Characters (GURPS, 4th Edition) - PDF Free Download (2024)

Basic Set: Characters


3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10


GURPS System Design ❚ STEVE JACKSON Managing Editor ❚ ANDREW HACKARD GURPS Line Editor ❚ SEAN PUNCH Production Manager ❚ MONIQUE CHAPMAN Art Director ❚ PHILIP REED Page Design ❚ PHILIP REED Production Artists ❚ JUSTIN DE WITT, ALEX FERNANDEZ, and PHILIP REED Prepress Checkers ❚ FADE MANLEY and MONICA STEPHENS Print Buyer ❚ MONICA STEPHENS Marketing Director ❚ PAUL CHAPMAN Sales Manager ❚ ROSS JEPSON Errata Coordinator ❚ ANDY VETROMILE ´ ´ GURPS FAQ Maintainer ❚ STEPHANE THERIAULT Infinite Worlds Concept by John M. Ford and Steve Jackson Iconic Characters Created by Kenneth Hite Editorial Assistance by Jeff Rose Proofreading by Steve Jackson and Sean M. Punch Additional Material: Kenneth Hite, Robert M. Schroeck, William H. Stoddard Fourth Edition Testing and Rules Refinement: James Cambias, Paul Chapman, Mark Cogan, Peter V. Dell'Orto, John M. Ford, Devin L. Ganger, Robert Gilson, Kenneth Hite, Roberto Hoyle, Steven Marsh, Phil Masters, Elizabeth McCoy, Walter Milliken, Bill Oliver, Kenneth Peters, Giles Schildt, Gene Seabolt, William H. Stoddard, Michael Suileabhain-Wilson, William Toporek, Brian J. Underhill, Andy Vetromile, Hans-Christian Vortisch, Jeff Wilson, Jonathan Woodward Helpful Comments: Michelle Barrett, Kim Bernard, T. Bone, C. Lee Davis, Shawn Fisher, Bob Portnell, Lisa Steele, Stéphane Thériault, Chad Underkoffler Credits for earlier editions: Additional Material: Steve Beeman, Craig Brown, Jerry Epperson, Jeff George, Scott Haring, Mike Hurst, Stefan Jones, Jim Kennedy, David Ladyman, Jeff Lease, Walter Milliken, Steffan O’Sullivan, Ravi Rai, W. Dow Rieder, Art Samuels, Scorpia, Curtis Scott Playtest: Norman Banduch, Jeb Boyt, Keith Carter, Caroline Chase, James Crouchet, Jim Gould, Scott Haring, Rob Kirk, David Ladyman, Martha Ladyman, Creede Lambard, Sharleen Lambard, C. Mara Lee, Mike Lopez, Michael Moe, David Noel, Susan Poelma, Warren Spector, Gerald Swick, Allen Varney, Dan Willems Blindtest: Aaron Allston, Mark Babik, Sean Barrett, Bill Barton, Vicki Barton, James D. Bergman, David Castro, Bruce Coleman, Jerry Epperson, Jeff Flowers, Dave Franz, Cheryl Freedman, Jeff George, Kevin Gona, Kevin Heacox, Carl Leatherman, Guy McLimore, Alexis Mirsky, Joseph G. Paul, Greg Poehlein, Greg Porter, Randy Porter, Mark Redigan, Glenn Spicer, John Sullivan, Rick Swan, Kirk Tate, David Tepool, Bob Traynor, Alexander von Thorn, and many others Reality Checking: Warren Spector, Monica Stephens, Allen Varney, Jim Gould, David Noel, Rob Kirk Research Assistance: Mike Hurst, Jeffrey K. Greason, Walter Milliken Helpful Comments: Many of the above, plus Tim Carroll, Nick Christenson, Jim Duncan, David Dyche, Ron Findling, Mike Ford, Steve Maurer, John Meyer, Ken Rolston, Dave Seagraves, Bill Seurer, Brett Slocum, Gus Smedstad, Karl Wu, and Phil Yanov Many thanks to everyone above – and for all the others we couldn’t list. And special thanks to everyone who enjoyed the first three editions and said so! GURPS, Warehouse 23, and the all-seeing pyramid are registered trademarks of Steve Jackson Games Incorporated. Pyramid and the names of all products published by Steve Jackson Games Incorporated are registered trademarks or trademarks of Steve Jackson Games Incorporated, or used under license. GURPS Basic Set: Characters is copyright © 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2008 by Steve Jackson Games Incorporated. All rights reserved. Printed in the Thailand. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal, and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.



CONTENTS INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . 5 About the Authors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . WHAT IS ROLEPLAYING? . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mini-Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Materials Needed for Play. . . . . . . . . QUICK START . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Metric Conversions. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

6 7 7 8 8 9

1. CREATING A CHARACTER . . . . . . . . . 10 Character Points . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Character Concept. . . . . . . . . . . . . How GURPS Works: Realism and Game Balance . . . . . . . . . . Character Types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Example of Character Creation: Dai Blackthorn . . . . . Character Creation Checklist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SAMPLE CHARACTER SHEET . . . . . . Things Not Shown on the Character Sheets . . . . . . . . . . . . BASIC ATTRIBUTES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Select Basic Attributes . . . . . . . . . . . . . Handedness. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How GURPS Works: IQ, Sentience, and Sapience . . . . . . SECONDARY CHARACTERISTICS . . . . . . . . DAMAGE TABLE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Machines and Fatigue . . . . . . . . . .

10 11 11 12 12 13 13 13 14 14 14 15 15 16 16

BASIC LIFT AND ENCUMBRANCE TABLE . . . . . . 17 Example of Character Creation (cont’d) . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 BUILD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Size Modifier (SM) . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 How GURPS Works: ST, Mass, and Move . . . . . . . . . 19 Shopping for the Big, Tall, Thin, and Small. . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 AGE AND BEAUTY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Age. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Physical Appearance . . . . . . . . . . . 21

Other Physical Features . . . . . . . . 21 Example of Character Creation (cont’d) . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 SOCIAL BACKGROUND . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Technology Level (TL). . . . . . . . . . 22 Culture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Sapience and Language . . . . . . . . . 23 Accents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Broken to Broken . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Example of Character Creation (cont’d) . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 WEALTH AND INFLUENCE . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Wealth. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Starting Wealth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Reputation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Tech Level and Starting Wealth . . . 27 Importance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Classless Meritocracies. . . . . . . . . . 28 Special Rules for Rank. . . . . . . . . . 29 Example of Character Creation (cont’d) . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Privilege . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Social Restraints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 FRIENDS AND FOES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Associated NPCs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Contacts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 IDENTITIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Alternate Identity vs. Secret Identity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

Modifying Existing Advantages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117 Designing Entirely New Advantages . . . . . . . . . . . 118

3. DISADVANTAGES . . . . . . 119 Disadvantages for Heroes . . . . . . Restrictions on Disadvantages . . Types of Disadvantages . . . . . . . . Secret Disadvantages . . . . . . . . . . Self-Control for Mental Disadvantages . . . . . . . . . . . . . Self-Imposed Mental Disadvantages . . . . . . . . . . . . . “Buying Off” Disadvantages . . . . DISADVANTAGE LIST . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Example of Character Creation (cont’d) . . . . . . . . . . . QUIRKS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mental Quirks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Example of Character Creation (cont’d) . . . . . . . . . . . Physical Quirks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . NEW DISADVANTAGES . . . . . . . . . . . . . Modifying Existing Disadvantages . . . . . . . . . . . . . Brand-New Problems . . . . . . . . .

119 120 120 120 120 121 121 122 162 162 162 164 165 165 165 166

2. ADVANTAGES . . . . . . . . . 32 Types of Advantages . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Advantage Origins . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Potential Advantages . . . . . . . . . . . 33 What’s Allowed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Turning Advantages Off and On . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 ADVANTAGE LIST . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Frequency of Appearance . . . . . . . . 36 Limited Defenses. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Alternative Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Perks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 MODIFIERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 Enhancements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102 Attack Enhancements and Limitations. . . . . . . . . . . . 102 Turning Enhancements Off and On. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102 Limitations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110 Optional Rule: Limited Enhancements. . . . . . 111 Examples of Modified Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114 Gadget Limitations . . . . . . . . . . . 116 Example of Character Creation (cont’d) . . . . . . . . . . . 116 NEW ADVANTAGES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117


4. SKILLS . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167 Controlling Attribute. . . . . . . . . . Choosing Your Beginning Skills. . . . . . . . . . . . Difficulty Level. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Technological Skills. . . . . . . . . . . Tech-Level Modifiers. . . . . . . . . . . Prerequisites. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Specialties. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Grouped Skills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Familiarity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BUYING SKILLS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Skill Notation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Improving Your Skills . . . . . . . . .

167 167 168 168 168 169 169 169 169 170 170 170


SKILL COST TABLE . . . . . . . . . . . . . MEANING OF SKILL LEVELS. . . . . . . . . Probability of Success. . . . . . . . . Relative Skill Level . . . . . . . . . . . Choosing Your Skill Levels . . . . . SKILL DEFAULTS: USING SKILLS YOU DON’T KNOW . . . . . . . SKILL LIST . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Optional Rule: Wildcard Skills . . Geographical and Temporal Scope . . . . . . . . . . . . Planet Types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Physiology Modifiers . . . . . . . . . . Skills for Design, Repair, and Use . . . . . . . . . . . . Example of Character Creation (concluded). . . . . . . . TECHNIQUES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Creating Techniques . . . . . . . . . . Buying and Improving Techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TECHNIQUE COST TABLE . . . . . . . . Using Techniques. . . . . . . . . . . . . Sample Combat Techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Double Defaults and Techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sample Noncombat Techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

170 171 171 171 172 173 174 175 176 180 181 190 227 229 229 230 230 230 230 232 232

5. MAGIC . . . . . . . . . . . . 234 Glossary of Magical Terms. . . . . . LEARNING MAGIC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Prerequistes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mana . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CASTING SPELLS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Distraction and Injury. . . . . . . . . Caster and Subject . . . . . . . . . . . Time Required . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Energy Cost . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Critical Spell Failure Table . . . . . . Magic Rituals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Limits on Effect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Duration of Spells and Maintaining Spells . . . . . . . . . Canceling Spells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Casting Spells While Maintaining Other Spells . . . Ceremonial Magic. . . . . . . . . . . . . DIFFERENT KINDS OF MAGIC . . . . . . . . Colleges of Magic. . . . . . . . . . . . . Spell Classes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Area Spells on a Battle Map. . . . . Magic Staffs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dissipating Held Melee and Missile Spells . . . . . . . . . . Long-Distance Modifiers . . . . . . . Alternative Magic Systems . . . . . . SPELL LIST . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Air Spells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Body Control Spells. . . . . . . . . . . Communication and Empathy Spells. . . . . . . . . . . . Earth Spells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Enchantment Spells . . . . . . . . . . Fire Spells. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gate Spells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


234 235 235 235 235 236 236 236 236 236 237 237

Healing Spells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Knowledge Spells . . . . . . . . . . . . Light and Darkness Spells . . . . . Meta-Spells. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mind Control Spells . . . . . . . . . . Movement Spells . . . . . . . . . . . . . Necromantic Spells . . . . . . . . . . . Protection and Warning Spells . . . . . . . . . . . . Water Spells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

248 249 249 250 250 251 251 252 253

6. PSIONICS . . . . . . . . . . . 254 Glossary of Psi Terminology . . . . POWERS, TALENTS, AND ABILITIES . . . . Pside Effects. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gaining New Psi Abilities. . . . . . USING PSI ABILITIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PSIONIC POWERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Antipsi. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ESP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Psychic Healing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Psychokinesis (PK) . . . . . . . . . . . Psionics and Magic . . . . . . . . . . . Telepathy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Teleportation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Examples of Psionic Powers . . . . Other Powers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

254 254 255 255 255 255 255 255 256 256 256 257 257 257 257

7. TEMPLATES . . . . . . . . . 258 CHARACTER TEMPLATES. . . . . . . . . . . . How to Use Character Templates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Are Character Templates “Character Classes”? . . . . . . . . Sample Character Templates . . . Uniqueness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . RACIAL TEMPLATES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How to Use Racial Templates . . Sample Racial Templates . . . . . . Omitting Racial Traits . . . . . . . . . META-TRAITS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

258 258 259 259 259 260 261 261 262 262

237 237

245 245 246 246 247

267 267 268 268 269 271 275 275 277 277 278 278 279 281 282 282 286 287 287 288

9. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. . . . . . . 290 IMPROVEMENT THROUGH ADVENTURE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Traits Gained in Play . . . . . . . . . . Money . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Quick Learning Under Pressure . . . . . . . . . . . . IMPROVEMENT THROUGH STUDY . . . . . Jobs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Finding a Teacher . . . . . . . . . . . . . Optional Rule: Maintaining Skills. . . . . . . . . . Learnable Advantages . . . . . . . . . TRANSFORMATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Body Modification. . . . . . . . . . . . Mind Transfer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Supernatural Afflictions . . . . . . . Death. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

290 291 291 292 292 292 293 294 294 294 294 296 296 296

TRAIT LISTS . . . . . . . . . . 297 ADVANTAGES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 297 DISADVANTAGES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 299 MODIFIERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 300 SKILLS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 301 TECHNIQUES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 304 SPELLS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 304

238 238 239 239 239 239 240 241 241 242 242 242 244

WEAPONS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Choosing Your Weapons. . . . . . . Weapon Statistics . . . . . . . . . . . . Glossary of Arms and Armor. . . . Optional Rule: Modifying Dice + Adds . . . . . . Melee Weapons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Silver Weapons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Muscle-Powered Ranged Weapons . . . . . . . . . . Bodkin Points . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hand Grenades and Incendiaries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Firearms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . “Smartgun” Electronics . . . . . . . . Optional Rule: Malfunction. . . . . Heavy Weapons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ARMOR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Armor Tables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wearing Armor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SHIELDS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Carrying Weapons and Other Gear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MISCELLANEOUS EQUIPMENT . . . . . . .

ICONIC CHARACTERS . . . . 307 COMBAT LITE . . . . . . . . . 324 8. EQUIPMENT . . . . . . . . . 264 Money . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . COST OF LIVING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . COST OF LIVING TABLE . . . . . . . . . What Cost of Living Gets You: A Modern Example . . . . . . . . . BUYING EQUIPMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Legality Class . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


264 265 265

266 266 267

COMBAT TURN SEQUENCE . . . . . . . . . . MANEUVERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . RANGED ATTACKS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ATTACKING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DEFENDING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DAMAGE AND INJURY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . RECOVERY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FATIGUE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

324 324 326 326 326 327 328 328

INDEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 329 CHARACTER SHEET . . . . . 335

INTRODUCTION GURPS stands for “Generic Universal RolePlaying System.” It was originally a joke . . . a code word to describe the game while we looked for a “real” name. Years went by – literally! – as the game developed. We never found a better name, and now that the Fourth Edition is in your hands, the name is more appropriate than ever. “Generic.” Some people like quick, fast-moving games, where the referee makes lots of decisions to keep things moving. Others want ultimate detail, with rules for every contingency. Most of us fall somewhere in between. GURPS starts with simple rules, and – especially in the combat system – builds up to as much optional detail as you like. But it’s still the same game. You may all use it differently, but your campaigns will all be compatible. “Universal.” I’ve always thought it was silly for game companies to publish one set of rules for fantasy, another one for Old West, another one for science fiction, and another one for super powers. GURPS is one set of rules that’s comprehensive enough to let you use any background. There are worldbooks and supplements that “fine-tune” the generic system for any game world you want. But they are still compatible. If you want to take your Wild West gunslinger and your WWII commando fortune hunting in Renaissance Italy . . . go for it! And because that’s exactly the kind of game that so many of our fans play, the Fourth Edition adds an overarching background created to support just such campaigns. “RolePlaying.” This is not just a hackand-slash game. The rules are written to make true roleplaying possible – and, in fact, to encourage it. GURPS is a game in which you take on the persona of another character – and pretend, for a little while, to be that character. “System.” It really is. Most other RPGs started out as a simple set of rules, and then were patched and modified, ad infinitum. That makes them hard to play. GURPS, more than ever in

the Fourth Edition, is a unified whole. We’ve gone to a great deal of effort to make sure that it all works together, and it all works. GURPS will let you create any character you can imagine, and do anything you can think of . . . and it all makes sense. GURPS has been in print now for nearly 20 years. It was not designed in a vacuum; every game builds on the ones that came before. We learn from our successes – and from the successes of others. I think the best games are those that are simple, clear and easy to read, and I’ve tried hard to make GURPS “friendly.” One important influence was Hero Games’ Champions, for the flexibility of its character-creation system. Another was Flying Buffalo’s Tunnels & Trolls, for its appeal to solitaire gamers. Finally, M.A.R. Barker’s Empire of the Petal Throne remains noteworthy, even after decades of competition and imitation, for the detail and richness of its alien game world. But there’s more to GURPS than trying to repeat past success. The failures of earlier systems are important, too. In GURPS, I’ve tried to achieve several things I think earlier designs missed. First and foremost, of course, is the flexibility of a “universal” system. Others have tried this, but have fallen into the twin traps of watered-down combat (where a lightning bolt is just like a .45 pistol) or incompatibility (where players have to learn so many alternate rules for each new game and characters don’t easily cross over). GURPS presents a single, unified system that allows for great diversity without losing its coherence. This Fourth Edition incorporates dozens of rules that originally appeared in supplements published for the Third Edition. They seemed important enough to bring into the Basic Set – so here they are. Second is organization. Every gamer has had the experience of hunting frantically through one book after another, looking for a rule . . . and not finding it.


GURPS is extensively cross-referenced, with a Table of Contents, an Index, and a Glossary of terms used in the game. Third is ease of play. In GURPS, most of the detailed calculations are done before you start play . . . they are entered on the character sheet, and saved until you need them. Once play actually begins, it should not be complex. I’ve tried to make GURPS as fastmoving yet realistic as possible. It’s up to you to decide whether I succeeded. Most roleplaying systems depend for their success on a continual flow of “official” supplements and adventures. GURPS is different. True, we’ve released a lot of material already, and we plan to do much more; a totally universal system offers great leeway, and we’ve got a supplement list as long as your arm. But GURPS is designed to be as compatible as possible with supplements written for different games. The reason? Simple. Suppose that you’re a GURPS player. You’re at the hobby shop, and you see a really interesting supplement package. But it’s by another publisher, for another game. No problem. The GURPS system breaks everything down into plain English and simple numbers. Distances are given in feet and miles, rather than arbitrary units; times are given in minutes and seconds. That’s what makes it generic. That also makes it easy to translate. If you see an interesting supplement for another game, go right ahead and get it. You can use it as a sourcebook for GURPS. Likewise, if your gaming group favors other systems . . . you can still use your GURPS adventures. As long as that other game uses units that you can translate into feet, minutes, and other plain-English terms, you can import your GURPS adventures. When GURPS was launched, we dreamed of its becoming the “standard” roleplaying system. The hobby has grown hugely since then! There will never be a single standard . . . but GURPS is one of the standards, and that’s fine. We have never tried to drive others out of the market, or even to force them to conform to us. Instead, we are conforming to them – by producing a system that will work with any clearly written adventure.


At any rate, here it is. I’m satisfied that GURPS is the most realistic, flexible, and “universal” system ever developed. This Fourth Edition is the culmination of 18 years of continuous development and two years of concerted revision. I hope you like it. In closing, I want to acknowledge and thank the two revisors of this edition. Sean Punch, the GURPS line editor, and David Pulver spent two years collating feedback, experimenting with variant systems, and knitting a decade and a half of rules material into a coherent whole. It would not have happened without them. – Steve Jackson

Notes on the Fourth Edition

Steve Jackson Steve Jackson has been playing games for entirely too many years, and designing them professionally since 1977. His other game-design credits include Ogre and G.E.V., the award-winning Illuminati, the best-selling Car Wars, the atrocious Munchkin and its offshoots, and many others. He has served as an officer and volunteer for various industry associations, and was the youngest person ever inducted into the Origins “Hall of Fame.” He is the founder of Steve Jackson Games, in Austin, Texas. Steve is an active member of the Science Fiction Writers of America. He is a semi-retired science fiction fan, and once spent a great deal of time writing for various zines and helping to run conventions. He now enjoys reading others’ writing and attending others’ cons. So it goes. His other hobbies include surfing the net, playing with Lego and rolling-ball toys, gardening (especially water lilies), and tropical fish.

This edition represents a leap forward in more ways than just rules. As the hobby has grown, standards have become higher. You expect more from a roleplaying game than you did a decade ago; it’s our job to deliver. So . . .

David L. Pulver

• The book is bigger. Future GURPS releases will also be large . . . most will be over 200 pages . . . and they’ll be hardback. Feedback has been clear on this point; most people want more material in each book, and they want the durability and looks of hardcover. • The art is better. It’s full-color throughout, and it’s treated as an integral part of the book, not as filler material. Many will find this the most dramatic change in the new edition! • Regular support will continue. We plan to release one high-quality hardcover sourcebook every month . . . indefinitely. As I write this in April of 2004, we’re already scheduled more than three years out.

Sean M. Punch

Holding this book, you might ask, “Why does this edition of the Basic Set come in two volumes? Why not one big book, like the Third Edition and lots of other RPGs?” The answer involves a bit of history . . . The first two editions of Basic Set – released in 1986 and 1987 – were boxed sets containing cardboard figures, combat maps, dice, and two rulebooks (sound familiar?). Book 1: Characters was aimed mainly at players, while Book 2: Adventuring was more of a GM’s guide. This was a logical division of content for a RPG, and quite common in the ’80s.


About the Authors

David L. Pulver grew up in Canada, England, and New Zealand. He has been a science fiction fan for most of his life, an avid gamer since 1978, and a professional author since 1988. GURPS Ultra-Tech was his first book. He has since written over 50 RPGs and supplements, among them Transhuman Space, GURPS Bio-Tech, and Big Eyes, Small Mouth, Second Edition. He lives in Victoria, British Columbia. Sean “Dr. Kromm” Punch set out to become a particle physicist and ended up as the GURPS Line Editor. Since 1995, he has compiled the two-volume GURPS Compendium and GURPS Lite, written GURPS Wizards and Undead, edited or revised more than 20 other GURPS books, and masterminded the rules behind dozens more. Sean has been a fanatical gamer since 1979. His nongaming interests include cinema, computers, and wine. He lives in Montréal, Québec, with his wife, Bonnie. They have three cats and one bird.

By the time of the third edition (1988), gamers had come to prefer economical all-in-one rulebooks to expensive boxed sets. We decided to dispense with the box and release Basic Set, Third Edition as a single book. We managed to shoehorn everything into one volume. We continued to call it the Basic Set – even though it was not a boxed set – so that retailers and customers would know that it was the same game. By 1995, we had published over 100 titles for GURPS. However, it just wasn’t feasible to keep them all in print, so it became progressively harder to find certain supplements. Meanwhile, gamers with large GURPS libraries were finding it increasingly difficult to locate specific rules. To solve these problems, we compiled the most frequently used rules from all of GURPS into two expansion volumes: Compendium I:


Character Creation and Compendium II: Combat and Campaigns. Most GURPS supplements written between 1996 and 2003 required one or both of the Compendia. The basic rules had effectively spread to three books. In the process, several internal inconsistencies became evident – the almost-inevitable result of growth by agglomeration. Basic Set, Fourth Edition addresses the inconsistencies by recasting Basic Set, Third Edition and the two Compendia as a unified system. It occupies two volumes not because we think we will make more money that way, but because condensing three books into one proved impossible – there was too much material! But these two volumes contain the best of 18 years of GURPS development, making Fourth Edition comprehensive in a way that few other RPGs are.

And because this edition’s Basic Set is comprehensive, there is no need to “bolt on” extra rules that will come to be seen as mandatory. This should

put the brakes on growth by agglomeration The Basic Set is truly all you need to run nearly any kind of game: fantasy, science fiction, supers, horror

. . . anything. We believe that’s a big win, and we think you will agree! – Sean Punch

WHAT IS ROLEPLAYING? In a roleplaying game (RPG), each player takes the part of a “character” participating in a fictional adventure. A referee, called the Game Master (GM), chooses the adventure. He determines the background and plays the part of the other people the characters meet during their adventure. The adventure may have a fixed objective – save the Princess, find the treasure, stop the invasion – or it may be open-ended, with the characters moving from one escapade to the next. A roleplaying “campaign” can be open-ended, lasting for years, as characters (and players) come and go. It’s all up to the GM and the players. No game board is necessary for a roleplaying game – although some systems, including GURPS, include optional “boardgame” rules for combat situations. Instead, the game is played verbally. The GM describes the situation and tells the players what their characters see and hear. The players then describe what they are doing to meet the challenge. The GM describes the results of these actions . . . and so on. Depending on the situation, the GM may determine what happens arbitrarily (for the best possible story), by referring to specific game rules (to decide what is realistically possible), or by rolling dice (to give an interesting random result). Part of the object of a roleplaying game is to have each player meet the situation as his character would. A roleplaying game can let a player take the part of a stern Japanese samurai, a medieval jester, a wise priest, a stowaway gutter kid on her first star-trip . . . or absolutely anyone else. In a given situation, all those characters would react differently. And that’s what roleplaying is about! Thus, good roleplaying teaches cooperation among the players, and broadens their viewpoints. But roleplaying is not purely educational. It’s also one of the most creative possible entertainments. Most entertainment is passive: the audience just sits and watches, without taking part in the creative process. In roleplaying,

the “audience” joins in the creation. The GM is the chief storyteller, but the players are responsible for portraying their characters. If they want something to happen in the story, they make it happen, because they’re in the story. Other types of media are

mass-produced to please the widest possible audience, but each roleplaying adventure is an individual gem, crafted by those who take part in it. The GM provides the raw material, but the final polish comes from the players themselves.

Mini-Glossary Below are a few important terms used in this book. The complete glossary appears on pp. 563-565. advantage: A useful trait that gives you an “edge” over another person with comparable attributes and skills. See Chapter 2. attributes: Four numbers – Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Health – that rate a character’s most basic abilities. Higher is always better! See pp. 14-15. cinematic: A style of play where the needs of the story outweigh those of realism, even when that would produce improbable results. See p. 488. d: Short for “dice.” “Roll 3d” means “roll three ordinary six-sided dice and add them up.” See p. 9. Dexterity (DX): An attribute that measures agility and coordination. See p. 15. disadvantage: A problem that renders you less capable than your other traits would indicate. See Chapter 3. enhancement: An extra capability added to a trait. This increases the point cost of the trait by a percentage. See pp. 102-109. Fatigue Points (FP): A measure of resistance to exhaustion. See p. 16. Health (HT): An attribute that measures physical grit and vitality. See p. 15. Hit Points (HP): A measure of ability to absorb punishment. See p. 16. Intelligence (IQ): An attribute that measures brainpower. See p. 15. limitation: A restriction on the use of a trait. This reduces the point cost of the trait by a percentage. See pp. 110-117. point: The unit of “currency” spent to buy traits for a character. The more points you have, the more capable you are. Point costs for traits are often written in brackets; e.g., “Combat Reflexes [15]” means the Combat Reflexes trait costs 15 points. See p. 10. prerequisite: A trait you must have to qualify for another trait. If the prerequisite is a skill, you must have at least one point in it. See p. 169. skill: A number defining your trained ability in an area of knowledge or broad class of tasks. See Chapter 4. Strength (ST): An attribute that measures physical muscle and bulk. See p. 14. trait: An advantage, attribute, disadvantage, skill, or other character “building block” that affects game play and costs points to add, modify, or remove.



Materials Needed for Play • GURPS Basic Set Characters. Everyone will need access to this book in order to create characters and look up character abilities. A large group will find it handy to have several copies available, especially during character creation. • GURPS Basic Set Campaigns. The GM will need a copy of this book, which contains rules for success rolls, physical feats, combat, injury, animals, and vehicles, as well as advice on how to run the game and design a campaign. •Character sheets. Each player will need a copy of the Character Sheet (pp. 335-336) on which to record his PC’s statistics. You may make as many copies as you like for your own use (but not for resale). • Three six-sided dice. A set of three dice for each player, and another set for the GM, is even better. • Pencils and scratch paper. For taking notes, sketching maps, etc.

The other important thing about roleplaying is that it doesn’t have to be competitive. In most roleplaying situations, the party will succeed or fail as a group, depending on how well they cooperate. The greatest rewards of good roleplaying come not in “winning,” but in character development. The more successfully a player portrays his character (as judged by the GM), the more that character will gain in ability. When it’s all said and done, the GM and the players will have created a story . . . the story of how the characters met, learned to work together, encountered a challenge, and (we hope) triumphed!

HOW TO LEARN GURPS If you have some experience with roleplaying games already, you should find GURPS easy to pick up. But if this is your first RPG, you’ll have a little more to learn. Relax – if you got this far, you’ll be fine! Don’t be alarmed by the physical size of the game. There’s a lot of material here – two thick books – but we’ve done our best to make it easy to use. The tables of contents (pp. 3-4 and 339-341) and the index (pp. 329-334 or 570-575) are as detailed as we could manage.

We’ve also added several features to make the rules easier to learn. The Quick-Start (below) and Conventions (p. 9) sections cover the most important game concepts. The Glossary (pp. 563-565) defines the terms used in the game – and an abridged version (see Mini-Glossary, p. 7) appears here so you can understand the Quick Start rules without flipping pages. The best way to learn GURPS is to join a group of friends who already play. If you’re starting out on your own, here’s what we recommend: 1. Quickly skim this book, just to get the flavor of the game. Don’t worry about the details yet. 2. Read the Mini-Glossary (p. 7) to learn the basic terminology. 3. Read the Quick-Start and Conventions sections to learn the basic game concepts. 4. Read Creating a Character (pp. 10-12) to get an idea of the different things characters can do. 5. Read the rest of the rules in detail, as your time permits. GURPS Lite may also be useful to you. It’s a 32-page distillation of the basic system; you can download it free at Once you have absorbed the rules, you can be the GM for your friends, and help them learn the game. You can do whatever you want . . . that’s the whole point of the system. Most important: Have fun!

QUICK START This section is a brief guide to the whole GURPS game system. The Basic Set spans two thick volumes, but most of that is detail, “color,” and special cases. The game system is actually easy. GURPS is designed to be “friendly,” both for the player and the Game Master. The rulebooks include a lot of detail, but they’re indexed and crossreferenced to make things easy to find. And all the detail is optional – use it only when it makes the game more fun. There are only three basic “game mechanics” in GURPS. Learn these and you can start to play. (1) Success Rolls. A “success roll” is a die roll made when you need to “test” one of your skills or attributes. For instance, you might test, or roll against,


your Strength to stop a heavy door from closing, or against your Guns skill to hit an enemy with your pistol. The only dice used in GURPS are six-sided ones. Roll three dice for a success roll. If your roll is less than or equal to the skill or ability you are testing, you succeeded. Otherwise, you failed. For example, if you are rolling against Strength, and your ST level is 12, a roll of 12 or less succeeds. Sometimes you will have modifiers to a roll. For instance, if you were trying to stop a very heavy door from closing, you might have to roll against Strength at -2 (or ST-2, for short). In that case, with a Strength of 12, you would need to roll a 10 or less to succeed. Rolling a 10 or less is harder than rolling a 12 or less, just as stopping a


heavy door is harder than stopping an ordinary one. For an especially easy task, you would get a bonus to your attempt. You might roll “Animal Handling+4” to make friends with a very friendly dog. If your Animal Handling skill were 12, a roll of 16 or less would succeed. Making a roll of 16 or less is easier than making the base skill roll of 12 or less, because a friendly dog is easy to deal with. For details on success rolls, see pp. 343-361. (2) Reaction Rolls. A “reaction roll” is a roll made by the Game Master (or GM) to determine how his nonplayer characters (NPCs) react to the player characters. This roll is always optional; the GM may predetermine reactions.

But sometimes it’s more fun to let the dice control the reactions. To check reactions, the GM rolls 3 dice and consults the Reaction Table (pp. 560-561). The higher his roll, the better the NPCs will react, and the better the treatment they will give the PCs. Many traits give reaction modifiers that add to or subtract from reaction rolls. If you have a +2 reaction due to your good looks, the GM will add 2 to any reaction roll made by someone who can see you. This is likely to improve the way they behave toward you! For details on reaction rolls, see p. 494. (3) Damage Rolls. A “damage roll” is a roll made in a fight, to see how much harm you did to your foe. Damage rolls use the “dice+adds” system (see Dice, below). Many things can affect the final injury inflicted by your attack. Armor reduces the damage received by the wearer. Certain attacks do extra damage if they get through armor. “Critical hits” can do extra damage. All these things are explained in the combat rules – see Chapters 11-13. But the combat system is “modular”; you can use all the rules for a complex, detailed, realistic combat simulation – or just those in Chapter 11 for a quick game. There’s another important system – but you don’t need to know it to start with. It’s the character creation system. The GM will give each player a number of points to spend on his character. High attribute levels cost points, as do advantages and skills. Disadvantages, such as Greed and Berserk, are also available; these give you extra points. Details appear in Chapters 1-4. These rules let you do all your calculations before play starts, and enter them on the Character Sheet (p. 13). That way, you don’t have to bother with calculations during play! Got all that? Good. Now you can play GURPS. The rest is just detail. Have fun.

CONVENTIONS GURPS uses the following mathematical conventions.

Dice GURPS uses six-sided dice only. All “success rolls,” and most other rolls, require you to throw three dice (“3d”) at once, add up the number of pips, and compare the total to a “target number.”

To figure combat damage, and for many other things, GURPS uses the “dice+adds” system. If a weapon does “4d+2” damage, this is shorthand for “roll 4 dice and add 2 to the total.” Likewise, “3d-3” means “roll 3 dice and subtract 3 from the total.” If you see just “2d,” that means “roll two dice.” For instance, if an adventure says, “The base is guarded by 5d human soldiers and 2d+1 robots,” that’s short for, “Roll five dice for the number of human guards at the base. Then roll two dice, and add 1, for the number of robots.” For really huge numbers, dice can be multiplied. For instance, “2d¥10” means “roll 2 dice and multiply by 10.”

Rounding A mathematical formula is often the best way to ensure that a rule is fair, realistic, or universal. But formulas sometimes yield inconvenient fractions. Except where instructed otherwise, round off fractions as follows:

Round up for point costs. When you modify a point cost by a percentage, or multiply it by a factor, round all fractions up. For instance, a 25% enhancement to a 15-point ability would result in 18.75 points, which would round to 19 points. For negative numbers, “up” means “in the positive direction”; e.g., if you multiply -7 points by 1/2 to get -3.5 points, round the result to -3 points. Round down for character feats and combat results. When you do math to determine what a character can do – how much he can lift, how far he can jump, etc. – or to calculate injury or other combat results, round all fractions down. For instance, for an attack that inflicts 3 points of injury with a 50% damage bonus, round down from 4.5 to 4 points. Exceptions and special cases (such as “round to the nearest whole number” or “do not round off”) are noted explicitly with the relevant rule.

Metric Conversions GURPS uses the old imperial units of measurement, rather than metric, because most of our readers are Americans who use the old system. But not all! Every year, more and more people in the rest of the world start GURPS campaigns. And outside the U.S., people think in metric. We can’t afford to do two editions of everything, but we can provide this conversion table. Note that there are two conversion columns. The first column is an approximation, easy to do in your head, and good enough for gaming. The second column is the real metric equivalent, for those times when you want to be exact. Imperial 1 inch (in.) 1 foot (ft.) 1 yard (yd.) 1 mile (mi.) 1 pound (lb.) 1 ton 1 gallon (gal.) 1 quart (qt.) 1 ounce (oz.) 1 cubic inch (ci) 1 cubic yard (cy)

Game Metric 2.5 cm 30 cm 1 meter 1.5 km 0.5 kg 1 metric ton 4 liters 1 liter 30 grams 16 cubic cm 0.75 cubic m

Real Metric 2.54 cm 30.48 cm 0.914 meters 1.609 km 0.454 kg 0.907 metric tons 3.785 liters 0.946 liters 28.349 grams 16.387 cu. cm 0.765 cubic m

Temperature: When dealing with changes in temperature, one Fahrenheit degree is 5/9 the size of a degree Celsius. So a change of 45°F is equal to a change of 25°C. To convert actual thermometer readings, subtract 32 from the Fahrenheit temperature and multiply the result by 5/9. So 95°F is 5/9 of (95-32), or 5/9 of 63, or 35°C.




CREATING A CHARACTER When you roleplay, you take the part of another person – a “character” that you create. GURPS lets you decide exactly what kind of hero you will become. Asteroid miner? Wizard? Professional time-traveler? You can take your inspiration from a fictional hero or heroine, or create your new “self” from the ground up. Once you know what role you want to play, it’s time to bring that character to life! The GM (Game Master – the person “running” the game) will give you a number of character points with which to “buy” your abilities. For instance, the stronger you want to be, the more points it will cost. You can also buy advantageous social traits, such as wealth, and special abilities called advantages (see Chapter 2). If you want more abilities than you can afford on the budget given to you by your GM, you can get extra points by accepting below-average strength, appearance, wealth, social status, etc., or by taking disadvantages – specific handicaps such as bad vision or fear of heights (see Chapter 3). Advanced players can fine-tune these traits by adding enhancements and limitations; see pp. 101-117. Such modifiers will raise or lower the basic point cost of the modified trait. Start with a character sheet (see p. 13) and fill it in as you go along, keeping track of the points you spend. We have included examples at each stage to illustrate the process.

CHARACTER POINTS Character points are the “currency” of character creation. Anything that improves your abilities costs character points: you must spend points equal to the listed price of an ability to add that ability to your character sheet and use it in play. Anything that reduces your capabilities has a negative cost – that is, it gives you back some points. For instance, if you start with 125 points, buy 75 points of advantages, and take -15 points of disadvantages, you have 125 - 75 + 15 = 65 points remaining.

Starting Points The GM decides how many character points the player characters (PCs) – the heroes – start with. This depends on how capable he wants them to be, and can range from under 25 points (small children) to 1,000 points or more (godlike beings), with 100-200 points being typical for career adventurers. This beginning point level is sometimes referred to as the power level of the campaign (see Power Level, p. 487). This is not the same as the “stakes” of the campaign! Heroes with abilities that let them overcome even the toughest opposition in an optimistic fantasy campaign might face mortal danger in a dark horror scenario. In most campaigns, all the PCs start at the same power level. This is simple and fair. However, not all people are equally capable in real life, and it is common in fiction for one character to be obviously superior. If everyone agrees, some players might play “lead protagonists,”





worth more points than the other PCs, or “sidekicks,” worth fewer points.

Disadvantage Limit A disadvantage is anything with a negative cost, including low attributes, reduced social status, and all the specific disabilities listed in Chapter 3. In theory, you could keep adding disadvantages until you had enough points to buy whatever advantages and skills you wanted. In practice, most GMs will want to set a limit on the disadvantage points a PC may have. The purpose of a disadvantage limit is to keep the game from becoming a circus, with the PCs’ troubles stealing the spotlight from the setting, the adventure, and everything else the GM has created. Most GMs find it difficult to run an engaging game if the PCs are completely dysfunctional – e.g., clumsy, one-eyed, alcoholic outlaws who are afraid of the dark. A disadvantage cap serves another purpose as well: it restricts the abilities available to starting characters, allowing the GM to set an upper limit on the capabilities of the PCs. A good rule of thumb is to hold disadvantages to 50% of starting points – for instance, -75 points in a 150-point game – although this is entirely up to the GM. However, if the GM rules that all PCs must have certain disadvantages

(e.g., all the PCs are spies, with a Duty to their agency), these “campaign disadvantages” should not count against the disadvantage limit. Disadvantages that are part of your racial makeup (your “racial template”; see p. 260) are also exempt.

Character Points in Play Your character’s starting point total is only relevant when he first enters play. Shortly thereafter, he will start to change. The GM will sometimes reward you with extra points to spend, or even new abilities . . . but you might lose capabilities, too. All of these things will change your point total. Eventually, your PC will be worth more or fewer points than those of your companions, even though you all started out equal. Don’t worry about it! Develop the habit of regarding your point total as a useful measure of your capability at this time – not as a gauge of overall campaign power level, or of your personal success or importance relative to the other players or PCs. For more on character evolution, see Chapter 9.

CHARACTER CONCEPT The two most important things to know about your character are who he is and what role you want him to play

How GURPS Works: Realism and Game Balance Character design in GURPS is intended to give a balanced hero, someone whose strengths and weaknesses more or less cancel each other out. In real life, of course, being super-strong doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up something else. And being weak in body doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be good at something else. A totally realistic system would be one in which a character’s strength (for instance) was determined randomly, with no relationship to his intelligence or social status . . . and so on for all his other capabilities. But random choices aren’t really satisfactory for heroes. You might end up with a superman . . . or a weak, stupid, boring clod. You avoid people like that in real life; why would you want to become one, even for a minute, in a game? In GURPS, two characters built on the same number of points start off “equal,” but not the same. You can design the type of character you want while leaving room for growth and improvement.




in his adventures. Find out what kind of game the GM plans to run and what kinds of characters he intends to allow. Then start filling in the details. There are several ways to approach this. You can choose the abilities you want, spend your character points, and work out a character concept that fits the abilities. A good character is much more than a collection of abilities, but “shopping” for abilities can be a great inspiration. You might instead decide on your character’s focal qualities first – the handful of things that define him, such as personal history, appearance, behavior, aptitudes, and skills. Think about how he acquired those qualities, then spend your points on features that go with these traits. (You might find it useful to work out a biography first, as described below.) Finally, you might find it helpful to answer some basic questions about your character, using the answers to develop a biography before you spend any points. For instance: • Where was he born and where did he grow up? Where does he live now? • Who were his parents? (Does he know?) Are they still alive? If not, what became of them? If so, does he get along with them? • What training does he have? Was he an apprentice? A student? Or is he self-taught? • What is his current occupation? What other jobs has he held? • What social class does he belong to? How wealthy is he? • Who are his friends? His enemies? His closest professional associates? • What were the most important moments of his life? • What are his likes and dislikes? Hobbies and interests? Morals and beliefs? • What are his motivations? Plans for the future? You can answer such questions in your head, on paper, or in an interview with the GM. You can even discuss them with the other players (but you will want to keep some secrets, even from your friends). Or you might prefer to answer them by writing a life history.


Life Histories To really solidify your character concept, you can write your character’s life history, or “character story.” You don’t have to write a character story – but it’s recommended. If you do, then you should show this story to the GM, but not necessarily to the other players. This can serve as a great aid to roleplaying, and can help the GM integrate your character into his campaign world. As your character adventures and gains experience, his “story” will get longer and more detailed. Not only will you have the adventures themselves to remember . . . the more you play your character, the more you’ll work out his background, history, and motivations.

Characterization Bonus Writing a life history amounts to roleplaying a character before the campaign begins. The GM might choose to reward players who write detailed character stories with a few extra character points for good roleplaying (see p. 498) – perhaps 1 to 5 points. The story need not be a literary masterpiece to merit bonus points, but it should be more than just a token effort, and should attempt to answer all of the questions listed under Character Concept that are relevant to the character.

CHARACTER TYPES A character can have any combination of abilities he can afford, provided the GM agrees. (Players of other RPGs take note: this means that GURPS does not use character classes.) However, all of his abilities should paint a picture consistent with his character concept. Some inspirations from heroic fiction: Exotic. An alien, angel, robot, “super” (a comic-book superhuman), or other hero defined by his unusual powers or nature. Most of his starting points should go toward high attributes, exotic or supernatural advantages (see p. 32), or a racial template (see p. 260). As a result, he probably has fewer mundane abilities than his fellow adventurers.


Example of Character Creation: Dai Blackthorn To illustrate character creation, we present Dai Blackthorn, thief extraordinaire! Dai hails from the Infinite Worlds setting in Chapter 20. Dai’s career started on Yrth, a medieval fantasy world populated by descendants of Crusades-era folk pulled from Earth by a dimensional rift. He remembers nothing of his birth or early childhood; he was a street kid. When he was about seven, he was taken in by an old thief who taught him to be a pickpocket and second-story man, and Dai learned well. But the Thieves’ Guild didn’t like the competition, and when Dai was 15, the Guild set fire to the old man’s house, and picked off the fleeing occupants with crossbows. Only Dai escaped. At the time, he thought that he had made a terror-fueled leap from the burning building’s roof to the next one. Later he realized that that jump had been impossible. Something else had happened. In fact, the fear of death had unlocked his psionic gift of teleportation, though it took time before he realized the truth and gained control of his abilities. When he did, he became a master thief indeed, living in quiet comfort and reveling in the marketplace talk of “impossible robberies” that no lock and no wizard could stop. Then Dai crossed paths, and swords, with an equally formidable rival . . . a world-jumping criminal using stolen technology to loot Yrth’s treasures. Matters were complicated further by the arrival of an ISWAT team pursuing the world-jumper. When the dust had settled, two of the agents owed their lives to the little thief . . . but he knew too much. They couldn’t just let him go. So they recruited him. After all, a good teleport is hard to find. As for Dai, he was ready for new challenges . . . We’ll create Dai as a full member of ISWAT. As an established hero, he’ll have a base of 250 points.

Jack-of-All-Trades. A many-skilled hero: mercenary, bush pilot, reporter, etc. DX and IQ are most important. Advantages such as Talent and Versatile can help. Pick one or two skills from those suggested for each of the other character types. A Jack-ofAll-Trades isn’t as good as a dedicated expert, but he has some skill in many areas. Mouthpiece. A bard, con man, or other person who exploits wit and charm. IQ is crucial. Charisma, Cultural Familiarity, Rapier Wit, Voice, and a good appearance are all useful. Most important are skills that emphasize social interaction: Carousing, Fast-Talk, Merchant, Public Speaking, and so on. Sage. A “wise man” – priest, professor, scientist, etc. High IQ is essential. Classic advantages are Eidetic Memory, Intuition, Language Talent, and Languages (and, in some campaigns, Illuminated!). He needs several




related IQ/Hard skills in obscure fields (Expert Skills are especially suitable), as well as Research, Teaching, and Writing. Scout. A seasoned outdoorsman or “ranger.” All attributes are equally important; some extra Basic Move and Perception can be extremely useful. The archetypal scout advantage is Absolute Direction. Valuable skills include Area Knowledge, Camouflage, Naturalist, Navigation, Survival, and Tracking. Sneak. Thieves and spies need high DX and IQ, as well as good Perception. Helpful advantages include High Manual Dexterity and Night Vision. Many skills are appropriate – Acting, Current Affairs, Disguise, and SavoirFaire suit a worldly spy, while a fantasy thief should pick Climbing, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, and Traps. Stealth skill is universal! Specialist. An expert at one skill. His knowledge runs deep and narrow; he is

the opposite of the Jack-of-All-Trades. His skill is very high (at least 18), with a good score in the attribute it is based on. Any advantage that gives a skill bonus is helpful – especially Talent. Tinkerer. An engineer, inventor, technician, or other mechanical genius. IQ is vital; DX is useful. Any kind of technological skill fits this sort of character (see Skills for Design, Repair, and Use, p. 190), and Scrounging skill is de rigueur. Cinematic inventors should also have High TL, Gadgeteer, and Gizmos. Warrior. A professional fighter needs high ST, DX, and HT, and might wish to buy up Hit Points and Basic Speed. Useful advantages include Combat Reflexes, Hard to Kill, and High Pain Threshold; cinematic warriors should also consider Extra Attack and Weapon Master. Combat skills are a must, and Leadership, Strategy, and Tactics can help. Modern commandos should add skills such as Explosives, Forward Observer, and Parachuting. Wizard. IQ and Magery are crucial. Extra Fatigue Points are useful for powering magic. Of course, a wizard needs spells – as many as he can afford! Although wizards are most common in magical worlds, the “surprise value” of a mage on a low-magic world can compensate for his reduced effectiveness.

CHARACTER CREATION CHECKLIST Be sure to visit all of the following sections during character creation: • Basic Attributes (p. 14) and Secondary Characteristics (p. 15). These affect almost everything else on your character sheet, so pick them first. • Build (p. 18) and Age and Beauty (p. 20). These sections describe the ingame effects of height, weight, age, looks, etc. • Social Background (p. 22), Wealth and Influence (p. 25), Friends and Foes (p. 31), and Identities (p. 31). Determine what kind of society you are from, where you stand in the game world, how others regard you, and who you can count on for support – or for a knife in the back!

See pp. 335-336 for a full-sized, two-page character sheet which you may copy for your own use. This and other GURPS forms may also be downloaded at

Things Not Shown on the Character Sheet There are several things you might want to keep track of separately: Job Details. It can be important to know what you do for a living when you’re not adventuring (unless adventuring is your job – lucky you!) and how long you spend doing it. This determines your income and on-the-job training opportunities. Military characters should keep a service record. Life History. If you write down your character story, keep it in a separate file so you can easily expand it as your adventures unfold. Spells. Wizards often know dozens of spells – more than easily fit on a character sheet. If you wish, you can just note the total point cost of all your spells under “Skills” and write out your full spell list on a separate “grimoire” or “spellbook” sheet. Vital Statistics. If you think your parents’ names, your place and date of birth (or zodiacal birth sign), your bloodline (or race – in some settings, you might need to specify that you are an ordinary human!), and similar traits are likely to matter, keep a separate “personnel file” on yourself that contains such details.





•Advantages (p. 32). Chapter 2 lists dozens of special talents and powers. Perks (p. 100) are special “mini-advantages” that can help individualize your character. • Disadvantages (p. 119). Chapter 3 lists a wide variety of negative traits, from inconvenient to crippling.

Mental disadvantages and Quirks (p. 162), special mini-disadvantages, can help you define your personality. • Skills (p. 167) and Techniques (p. 229). The abilities in Chapter 4 describe what you can actually do. Be sure to match your skills to your occupation and character type.

Aside from attributes, which you should normally select first, the order you work through these sections makes little difference . . . start with the one most important to you, and work from there.

BASIC ATTRIBUTES Four numbers called “attributes” define your basic abilities: Strength (ST), Dexterity (DX), Intelligence (IQ), and Health (HT). A score of 10 in any attribute is free, and represents the human average. Higher scores cost points: 10 points to raise ST or HT by one level, 20 points to raise DX or IQ by one level. Similarly, scores lower than 10 have a negative cost: -10 points per level for ST or HT, -20 points per level for DX or IQ. (Remember – negative point values mean you get those points back to spend on something else!) Most characters have attributes in the 1-20 range, and most normal humans have scores in the 8-12 range. Scores above 20 are possible but typically reserved for godlike beings – ask the GM before buying such a value. The exception is ST, which can range significantly beyond 20 even for normal humans. At the other end of the scale, a score of 0 is defined in special cases, but 1 is the minimum score for a human. No one may have a negative score.

Strength (ST) ±10 points/level Strength measures physical power and bulk. It is crucial if you are a

How to Select Basic Attributes The basic attributes you select will determine your abilities – your strengths and weaknesses – throughout the game. Choose wisely. 6 or less: Crippling. An attribute this bad severely constrains your lifestyle. 7: Poor. Your limitations are immediately obvious to anyone who meets you. This is the lowest score you can have and still pass for “ablebodied.” 8 or 9: Below average. Such scores are limiting, but within the human norm. The GM may forbid attributes below 8 to active adventurers. 10: Average. Most humans get by just fine with a score of 10! 11 or 12: Above average. These scores are superior, but within the human norm. 13 or 14: Exceptional. Such an attribute is immediately apparent – as bulging muscles, feline grace, witty dialog, or glowing health – to those who meet you. 15 or more: Amazing. An attribute this high draws constant comment and probably guides your career choices. All of the above assumes a human. For nonhumans, read each point above or below the human norm of 10 as a 10% deviation from the racial norm instead.

warrior in a primitive world, as high ST lets you dish out and absorb more damage in hand-to-hand combat. Any adventurer will find ST useful for

Handedness Decide whether you are right-handed or left-handed. Whenever you try to do anything significant with the other hand, you are at -4 to skill. This does not apply to things you normally do with your “off” hand, like using a shield. GURPS assumes you are right-handed unless you decide otherwise or buy Ambidexterity (p. 39). If you choose to be left-handed, any combat result that would damage your right hand affects your left instead, and vice versa. Left-handedness is a feature worth 0 points.





lifting and throwing things, moving quickly with a load, etc. ST directly determines Basic Lift (p. 15), basic damage (p. 15), and Hit Points (p. 16), and affects your character’s Build (p. 18). Lifting capacity is proportional to the square of ST. Compared to the average human adult (ST 10 – 10¥10 = 100), ST 14 is about twice as strong (14¥14 = 196), ST 17 is roughly three times as strong (17¥17 = 289), and ST 20 is four times as strong (20¥20 = 400 = 4¥100). Likewise, ST 7 is about half as strong (7¥7 = 49), ST 6 is approximately 1/3 as strong (6¥6 = 36), and ST 5 is only 1/4 as strong (5¥5 = 25 = 100/4).

Strength is more “open-ended” than other attributes; scores greater than 20 are common among beings such as large animals, fantasy monsters, and robots. Even a human could have a ST over 20 – record-setting weightlifters can be very strong! Those with nonhuman physiologies may, with the GM’s permission, purchase their ST with one or both of the limitations below. You may not reduce a point cost by more than 80% through limitations; treat any total over -80% as -80%. (For more on limitations, see p. 110.)

Special Limitations No Fine Manipulators: If you have either level of the disadvantage No Fine Manipulators (p. 145), you may purchase ST more cheaply. -40%. Size: Large creatures may purchase ST more cheaply; see p. 19 for details. -10% ¥ Size Modifier, to a maximum limitation of -80% (for Size Modifier +8 or higher).

Dexterity (DX) ±20 points/level Dexterity measures a combination of agility, coordination, and fine motor ability. It controls your basic ability at most athletic, fighting, and vehicle-operation skills, and at craft skills that call for a delicate touch. DX also helps determine Basic Speed (a measure of reaction time, p. 17) and Basic Move (how fast you run, p. 17).

How GURPS Works: IQ, Sentience, and Sapience Sentience is self-awareness. Any being with a GURPS IQ of at least 1 is sentient by definition. To create nonsentient beings – plants, brainless clone bodies, etc. – take IQ 0, for -200 points. Nonsentient creatures cannot learn skills or have any purely mental traits. Sapience is defined as the ability to use tools and language. In GURPS, this requires at least IQ 6. Those with IQ 5 or less cannot learn technological skills (see p. 168) or possess Languages (see p. 23) – not even the initial Language that most characters get for free. They can still communicate primitive concepts (such as hunger or danger) through gesture or vocalization, and may be trained to respond to a few commands (see Pets and Trained Animals, p. 458).

Those with nonhuman physiologies may, with the GM’s permission, purchase their DX with the following limitation.

Special Limitations No Fine Manipulators: If you have either level of the disadvantage No Fine Manipulators (p. 145), you may purchase DX more cheaply. -40%.

Intelligence (IQ) ±20 points/level Intelligence broadly measures brainpower, including creativity, intuition, memory, perception, reason, sanity, and willpower. It rules your basic ability with all “mental” skills –

sciences, social interaction, magic, etc. Any wizard, scientist, or gadgeteer needs a high IQ first of all. The secondary characteristics of Will (p. 16) and Perception (p. 16) are based on IQ.

Health (HT) ±10 points/level Health measures energy and vitality. It represents stamina, resistance (to poison, disease, radiation, etc.), and basic “grit.” A high HT is good for anyone – but it is vital for low-tech warriors. HT determines Fatigue Points (p. 16), and helps determine Basic Speed (p. 17) and Basic Move (p. 17).

SECONDARY CHARACTERISTICS “Secondary characteristics” are quantities that depend directly on your attributes. You can raise or lower these scores by adjusting your attributes. You can modify some of them directly: start with the value calculated from your attributes and spend the required points to adjust it away from that base level. This does not affect the related attribute scores.

Thrusting damage (abbreviated “thrust” or “thr”) is your basic damage with a punch, kick, or bite, or an attack with a thrusting weapon such as a spear or a rapier. Swinging damage (abbreviated “swing” or “sw”) is your basic damage with a swung weapon, such as an axe, club, or sword – anything that acts as a lever to multiply your ST.

Damage (Dmg)

Consult the Damage Table (p. 16) for your basic damage. This is given in “dice+adds” format; see Dice (p. 9). Note that specific attack forms and weapons can modify this! Add 1d to both thrust and swing damage per full 10 points of ST above 100.

see Striking ST (p. 88) Your ST determines how much damage you do in unarmed combat or with a melee weapon. Two types of damage derive from ST:




Damage is often abbreviated “Dmg.” On your character sheet, list thrust followed by swing, separated by a slash; e.g., if you had ST 13, you would list “Dmg 1d/2d-1.”

Basic Lift (BL) see Lifting ST (p. 65) Basic Lift is the maximum weight you can lift over your head with one hand in one second. It is equal to (ST¥ST)/5 lbs. If BL is 10 lbs. or more, round to the nearest whole number; e.g., 16.2 lbs. becomes 16 lbs. The average human has ST 10 and a BL of 20 lbs. Doubling the time lets you lift 2¥BL overhead in one hand. Quadrupling the time, and using two hands, you can lift 8¥BL overhead.


Damage Table ST 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Thrust 1d-6 1d-6 1d-5 1d-5 1d-4 1d-4 1d-3 1d-3 1d-2 1d-2 1d-1 1d-1 1d 1d 1d+1 1d+1 1d+2 1d+2 2d-1 2d-1 2d 2d 2d+1 2d+1 2d+2 2d+2

Swing 1d-5 1d-5 1d-4 1d-4 1d-3 1d-3 1d-2 1d-2 1d-1 1d 1d+1 1d+2 2d-1 2d 2d+1 2d+2 3d-1 3d 3d+1 3d+2 4d-1 4d 4d+1 4d+2 5d-1 5d

The amount of equipment you can carry – armor, backpacks, weapons, etc. – is derived from BL. For more on this, as well as a ST-to-BL table, see Encumbrance and Move (p. 17).

Hit Points (HP) ±2 points per ±1 HP Hit Points represent your body’s ability to sustain injury. By default, you have HP equal to your ST. For instance, ST 10 gives 10 HP. You can increase HP at the cost of 2 points per HP, or reduce HP for -2 points per HP. In a realistic campaign, the GM should not allow HP to vary by more than ±30% of ST; e.g., a ST 10 character could have between 7 and 13 HP. Nonhumans and supers are not subject to this limit. You can temporarily lose HP to physical attacks (such as swords), energy attacks (such as lasers), supernatural attacks, disease, poison, hazards, and anything else that can injure or kill. You can also “burn” HP to power certain supernatural abilities. If you lose enough HP, you will eventually fall unconscious; if you lose too many HP, you will die. Lost HP do not reduce ST, despite being based on ST.


ST 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100

Thrust 3d-1 3d-1 3d 3d 3d+1 3d+1 3d+2 3d+2 4d-1 4d-1 4d 4d 4d+1 4d+1 5d 5d+2 6d 7d-1 7d+1 8d 8d+2 9d 9d+2 10d 10d+2 11d

Swing 5d+1 5d+1 5d+2 5d+2 6d-1 6d-1 6d 6d 6d+1 6d+1 6d+2 6d+2 7d-1 7d-1 7d+1 8d-1 8d+1 9d 9d+2 10d 10d+2 11d 11d+2 12d 12d+2 13d

Injury is often compared to a multiple of your HP; e.g., “2¥HP” or “HP/2.” Where this is the case, use your basic HP score in the formula, not your current HP total. For information on the effects of injury and on recovering lost HP, see pp. 418-425. Those with nonhuman physiologies may, with the GM’s permission, buy additional HP with the following limitation.

Special Limitations Size: Large creatures may purchase HP more cheaply; see p. 19 for details. -10% ¥ Size Modifier, to a maximum

limitation of -80% (for Size Modifier +8 or higher).

Will ±5 points per ±1 Will Will measures your ability to withstand psychological stress (brainwashing, fear, hypnotism, interrogation, seduction, torture, etc.) and your resistance to supernatural attacks (magic, psionics, etc.). By default, Will is equal to IQ. You can increase it at the cost of 5 points per +1, or reduce it for -5 points per -1. You cannot raise Will past 20, or lower it by more than 4, without GM permission. Note that Will does not represent physical resistance – buy HT for that!

Perception (Per) ±5 points per ±1 Per Perception represents your general alertness. The GM makes a “Sense roll” against your Per to determine whether you notice something (see Sense Rolls, p. 358). By default, Per equals IQ, but you can increase it for 5 points per +1, or reduce it for -5 points per -1. You cannot raise Per past 20, or lower it by more than 4, without GM permission.

Fatigue Points (FP) ±3 points per ±1 FP Fatigue Points represent your body’s “energy supply.” By default, you have FP equal to your HT. For instance, HT 10 gives 10 FP. You can increase FP at the cost of 3 points per FP, or reduce FP for -3 points per FP. In a realistic campaign, the GM should not allow FP to vary by more than ±30% of HT; e.g., a HT 10 character could have between 7 and

Machines and Fatigue Those with the Machine meta-trait (p. 263) should list FP as “N/A,” regardless of HT. They can neither buy extra FP nor reduce FP to save points. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage: machines do not fatigue, but they cannot spend FP to use extra effort or fuel special abilities. When a machine operates beyond its normal limits, it risks lasting structural damage. This takes the form of reduced HT, not lost FP. A character with the Machine meta-trait should buy up HT to be more tolerant of being “redlined.” Overall, this is a 0-point feature (see Features and Taboo Traits, p. 261).




13 FP. Nonhumans and supers are not subject to this limit. Also, while HT is usually limited to 20, there is no such limit on FP. You burn FP gradually during strenuous activity. Disease, heat, hunger, missed sleep, and the like can also sap FP. You can deliberately “spend” FP to fuel extra effort (see p. 356) and supernatural powers (e.g., magic spells). As well, some attacks cause FP damage instead of or in addition to HP damage. If you lose enough FP, you will slow down or fall unconscious – and if you lose too many, you risk death from overexertion! Lost FP do not reduce HT, despite being based on HT. Fatigue is often compared to some multiple of your FP; e.g., “2¥FP” or “FP/2.” Where this is the case, use your basic FP score in the formula, not your current FP total. For more on losing and recovering FP, see pp. 426-427.

Basic Speed ±5 points per ±0.25 Speed Your Basic Speed is a measure of your reflexes and general physical quickness. It helps determine your running speed (see Basic Move, below), your chance of dodging an attack, and the order in which you act in combat (a high Basic Speed will let you “out-react” your foes). To calculate Basic Speed, add your HT and DX together, and then divide the total by 4. Do not round it off. A 5.25 is better than a 5! You can increase Basic Speed for 5 points per +0.25, or reduce it for -5 points per -0.25. In a realistic campaign, the GM should not allow characters to alter Basic Speed by more than 2.00 either way. Nonhumans and supers are not subject to this limit. Dodge: Your Dodge defense (see Dodging, p. 374) equals Basic Speed + 3, dropping all fractions. For instance, if your Basic Speed is 5.25, your Dodge is 8. Encumbrance reduces Dodge; see Encumbrance and Move (below). You must roll under your Dodge on 3d to duck or sidestep an attack.

Basic Move ±5 points per ±1 yard/second Your Basic Move is your ground speed in yards per second. This is how

fast you can run – or roll, slither, etc. – without encumbrance (although you can go a little faster if you “sprint” in a straight line; see p. 354). Basic Move starts out equal to Basic Speed, less any fractions; e.g., Basic Speed 5.75 gives Basic Move 5. An average person has Basic Move 5; therefore, he can run about 5 yards per second if unencumbered. You can increase Basic Move for 5 points per yard/second or reduce it for -5 points per yard/second. For normal humans, training or a sleek build can justify up to 3 yards/second of increased Basic Move, while disability or poor fitness can explain up to 3 yards/second of reduced Basic Move. Nonhumans and supers are not subject to these limits. Races and supers who can move very fast should see Enhanced Move (p. 52). Your Move score in combat is your Basic Move modified for your encumbrance level; see Encumbrance and Move (below).

Encumbrance and Move “Encumbrance” is a measure of the total weight you are carrying, relative to your ST. The effects of encumbrance are divided into five “encumbrance levels.” All but the lowest level will reduce your actual Move to a

fraction of your Basic Move and give a penalty to Dodge, as follows: No Encumbrance (0): Weight up to Basic Lift. Move = Basic Move. Full Dodge. Light Encumbrance (1): Weight up to 2¥BL. Move = Basic Move ¥ 0.8. Dodge -1. Medium Encumbrance (2): Weight up to 3¥BL. Move = Basic Move ¥ 0.6. Dodge -2. Heavy Encumbrance (3): Weight up to 6¥BL. Move = Basic Move ¥ 0.4. Dodge -3. Extra-Heavy Encumbrance (4): Weight up to 10¥BL. Move = Basic Move ¥ 0.2. Dodge -4. Drop all fractions. Encumbrance can never reduce Move or Dodge below 1. Note that these levels are numbered from 0 to 4. When a rule tells you to add or subtract your encumbrance level from a die roll, this is the number to use. For instance, encumbrance gives a penalty to Climbing, Stealth, and Swimming skills.

Home Gravity Gravity is measured in “Gs.” Earth’s gravity is 1G. Note the gravity of your home world if it differs from 1G; e.g., “1.2G” for a world with 1.2

Basic Lift and Encumbrance Table This table summarizes Basic Lift and encumbrance levels for ST 1-20. ST (lbs.) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

BL 0.2 0.8 1.8 3.2 5 7.2 9.8 13 16 20 24 29 34 39 45 51 58 65 72 80


Encumbrance Levels (lbs.) None (0) Light (1) Medium (2) Heavy (3) Extra-Heavy (4) 0.2 0.4 0.6 1.2 2 0.8 1.6 2.4 4.8 8 1.8 3.6 5.4 10.8 18 3.2 6.4 9.6 19.2 32 5 10 15 30 50 7.2 14.4 21.6 43.2 72 9.8 19.6 29.4 58.8 98 13 26 39 78 130 16 32 48 96 160 20 40 60 120 200 24 48 72 144 240 29 58 87 174 290 34 68 102 204 340 39 78 117 234 390 45 90 135 270 450 51 102 153 306 510 58 116 174 348 580 65 130 195 390 650 72 144 216 432 720 80 160 240 480 800




times Earth’s gravity. All weights are multiplied by local gravity, so to function like someone with a given BL on Earth, multiply the desired BL by your home gravity and buy the ST corresponding to the adjusted BL. For instance, to operate in 1.2G as if you were a ST 10 person in 1G, start with BL for ST 10, which is 20 lbs., and multiply by 1.2 for gravity to get a BL of 24 lbs. This BL corresponds to ST 11, so you’d need ST 11 in 1.2G to function as well as a ST 10 person in 1G.

Example of Character Creation (cont’d) Dai is on the small side: ST 8 (-20 points). A “thief extraordinaire” should have catlike grace, so we give him an amazing DX 15 (100 points). Dai is also cunning and tough enough to survive on the street; therefore, we take IQ 12 (40 points) and HT 12 (20 points) – above average without being extreme. Now we look at the secondary characteristics these choices give: ST 8 gives a thrust damage of 1d-3, a swing damage of 1d-2, a Basic Lift of 13 lbs., and 8 HP. But Dai is tough, and no easier to kill than the average man, so we raise HP to 10 (4 points). IQ 12 gives Dai a Will and Perception of 12. Since a talented thief must be able to spot traps and pursuers, we increase Per to 15 (15 points) – amazing, and a match for his DX! HT 12 gives Dai 12 FP, but Dai prefers to avoid fatiguing labor in the first place, so we lower FP to 10 (-6 points), which is average. Dai’s Basic Speed is (15 + 12)/4 = 6.75. To get Dodge 10 and Basic Move 7 – useful for evading enemies when his teleportation fails – we raise Basic Speed to an even 7.00 (5 points).

Move in Other Environments Water Move is normally Basic Move/5, rounded down. You can increase water Move directly for 5 points per yard/second, or reduce it for -5 points per yard/second. Members of land-dwelling races must have Swimming skill (p. 224) to increase water Move, and cannot buy more than +2 yards/second. If you’re Amphibious (p. 40), both water and ground Move equal Basic Move, and changes to Basic Move adjust both scores. If you’re Aquatic (p. 145), water move equals Basic Move and ground Move is 0.

You are free to select any height and weight the GM deems reasonable for a member of your race. These choices do occasionally matter in play – for instance, when you attempt to impersonate an enemy, wear someone else’s armor, cross a rickety bridge, reach a high ledge, or hide behind cover. If you are lighter or heavier than usual for your ST, you may qualify for a build-related disadvantage. The following table gives the thresholds for these disadvantages for normal humans.

Adding everything up, these traits cost Dai 158 points.

Air Move is 0 without special advantages. If you have Flight (p. 56), air Move equals Basic Speed ¥ 2 (not Basic Move ¥ 2). You can increase air Move directly for 2 points per


The extremes of each weight range usually match the extremes of the associated height range. Overlaps are intentional. Consider two ST 10 men who stand 5’8” and weigh 175 lbs.: one might be big-boned and lean, the other fine-boned and chubby. Depending on muscle tone, a 160-lb. man could have any ST from 9 to 13 and claim “Average” build. Regardless of weight, you never have to take a build-related disadvantage. If you want to be ST 9, 5’1,” and

yard/second, or reduce it for -2 points per yard/second. If you have Walk on Air (p. 97), your air Move equals your ground Move, because the air is like solid ground beneath your feet.

250 lbs. with “Average” build, the GM should allow it. Build-related disadvantages are described below. In some settings, the GM may require you to take reaction modifiers if you select these traits, but this is not automatic.

Skinny -5 points You have approximately 2/3 the average weight for your ST. This gives you -2 to ST when you resist

Build Table ST 6 or less 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 or more


Height Range 4’4”-5’2” 4’7”-5’5” 4’10”-5’8” 5’1”-5’11” 5’3”-6’1” 5’5”-6’3” 5’8”-6’6” 5’11”-6’9” 6’2”-7’

Skinny 40-80 lbs. 50-90 lbs. 60-100 lbs. 70-110 lbs. 80-120 lbs. 85-130 lbs. 95-150 lbs. 105-165 lbs. 115-180 lbs.

Average 60-120 lbs. 75-135 lbs. 90-150 lbs. 105-165 lbs. 115-175 lbs. 125-195 lbs. 140-220 lbs. 155-245 lbs. 170-270 lbs.



Weight Range by Build Overweight Fat 80-160 lbs. 90-180 lbs. 100-175 lbs. 115-205 lbs. 120-195 lbs. 135-225 lbs. 140-215 lbs. 160-250 lbs. 150-230 lbs. 175-265 lbs. 165-255 lbs. 190-295 lbs. 185-290 lbs. 210-330 lbs. 205-320 lbs. 235-370 lbs. 225-355 lbs. 255-405 lbs.


Very Fat 120-240 lbs. 150-270 lbs. 180-300 lbs. 210-330 lbs. 230-350 lbs. 250-390 lbs. 280-440 lbs. 310-490 lbs. 340-540 lbs.

knockback. You get -2 to Disguise – or to Shadowing, if you are trying to follow someone in a crowd. Your HT may not be above 14.

Overweight -1 point You have approximately 130% the average weight for your ST. You get -1 to Disguise – or to Shadowing, if you are trying to follow someone in a crowd. However, your extra fat gives you +1 to Swimming rolls, and +1 to ST when you resist knockback.

Fat -3 points You have approximately 150% the average weight for your ST. You get -2 to Disguise – or to Shadowing, if you are trying to follow someone in a crowd. However, your extra fat gives you +3 to Swimming rolls, and +2 to ST when you resist knockback. Your HT may not be above 15.

Very Fat -5 points You have approximately twice the average weight for your ST. You get -3 to Disguise – or to Shadowing, if you are trying to follow someone in a crowd. However, the extra fat gives you +5 to Swimming rolls, and +3 to ST when you resist knockback. Your HT may not be above 13.

Size Modifier Table Longest Dimension 0.05 yard (1.8”) 0.07 yard (2.5”) 0.1 yard (3.5”) 0.15 yard (5”) 0.2 yard (7”) 0.3 yard (10”) 0.5 yard (18”) 0.7 yard (2’) 1 yard (3’) 1.5 yards (4.5’) 2 yards (6’)

Size Modifier -10 -9 -8 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0

SIZE MODIFIER (SM) Size Modifier rates a person or object’s most significant dimension: length, width, or height. It is a modifier to rolls to hit you in combat and to Vision rolls made to spot you. Thus, it is a bonus for large creatures, a penalty for small ones. Although large creatures are easier targets, a positive SM qualifies them to buy ST and HP more cheaply by taking the “Size” limitation. Most humans – and humanoids, robots, etc. that can pass for human – have SM 0, and can ignore this rule. Nonhumans use the SM on their racial template. However, your SM may deviate from racial average if you are not full-grown, or if you are a genetic dwarf or giant. When creating a creature that is larger or smaller than a human, find its SM by looking up its longest dimension – height for upright creatures such as

How GURPS Works: ST, Mass, and Move It would be more realistic to calculate Basic Move from ST-to-mass ratio; for instance, a Fat character would move slower than one of Average build. If you want to simulate this, buy +1 Basic Move if your PC is Skinny, -1 if he is Overweight, -2 if he is Fat, or -3 if he is Very Fat, all at the usual point cost. Women are on average lighter and weaker than men. You can simulate this by buying -1 or -2 to ST for the usual point cost. Choose a weight appropriate to this lower ST. The GM should never require either of the above options. Most players prefer to choose ST, height, weight, and sex without being penalized! GURPS handles mass considerations descriptively for nonhumans; e.g., a race that stumbles along under excess body weight will have a racial penalty to Basic Move.




Longest Dimension 3 yards (9’) 5 yards (15’) 7 yards (21’) 10 yards (30’) 15 yards (45’) 20 yards (60’) 30 yards (90’) 50 yards (150’) 70 yards (210’) 100 yards (300’) 150 yards (450’)

Size Modifier +1 +2 +3 +4 +5 +6 +7 +8 +9 +10 +11

giants, length for horizontal creatures such as cats and dragons, diameter for blobs – on the Size Modifier Table (above). If a creature’s longest dimension falls between two entries on the table, base its SM on the higher value. Box-, sphere-, or blob-shaped characters add +2 to SM; elongated boxes, like most ground vehicles, add +1. It is neither an advantage nor a disadvantage to have a nonzero SM – the benefits and drawbacks tend to cancel out. The exceptions are genetic dwarfism and gigantism, as these conditions affect bodily proportions (notably relative arm and leg length) and have social ramifications (you stand out in a crowd).

Dwarfism (-1 SM) -15 points You are abnormally short for your species. Regardless of ST, your height falls below the lowest value on the Build Table – under 4’4,” for a human. This gives you Size Modifier -1. Choose your weight from the first line of the Build Table and reduce it by 15%. You have -1 to Basic Move (short legs). In combat, your reach is reduced by 1 yard. This is partly because you have short arms and partly because you must use scaled-down weapons (regardless of your ST, your arms lack the leverage to control fullsized weapons). You get -2 to Disguise – or to Shadowing, if your are trying to follow someone in a crowd. In backward settings, the GM may require you to take a Social Stigma if you suffer from Dwarfism.


Shopping for the Big, Tall, Thin, and Small If you are Skinny, Fat, or Very Fat, or have Dwarfism or Gigantism, clothing and armor tailored for average folk will not fit you! A shop in a city or large town, especially at TL6+, might have a selection that fits. Otherwise, you will have to pay an extra 10% or 20% for Gigantism or Very Fat – to have something made for you. This premium almost always applies to medieval/fantasy armor.

A member of any race may be a dwarf. Scale down height by a factor of 0.75 from the racial average, and modify racial SM by -1. Otherwise, the rules remain the same.

Gigantism (+1 SM) 0 points You are abnormally tall for your species. Regardless of ST, your height falls above the highest value on the

AGE Age and physical appearance play a major role in how others perceive you. Choose carefully! Except in settings with magic or advanced biotechnology, you will be unable to change your mind after the game begins.

AGE You are free to pick any age the GM agrees is within the usual lifespan for your race. Adventurers usually fall somewhere between “young adult” and “old” – 18 to 70 years, for humans – but fiction is full of heroic youths and sharp 90-year-old veterans.

Children In many game worlds, especially those based on cartoons and fairytales, children are just small adults. By real-world standards, such children would be exceptional. However, even in a realistic campaign, those who wish to roleplay “heroic” children do not have to play less-capable characters – they can create their characters normally. Players interested in complete realism are welcome to make children smaller and less capable than adults. To create a believable child, decide what his attributes will be when he is full-grown, reduce them, and purchase the reduced values instead of the full values.




A human infant has 30% of his adult ST score, 40% of his adult DX, 50% of his adult IQ, and Size Modifier -3. A 5-year-old has 60% of his adult ST, 70% of his adult DX and IQ, and SM -2. A 10-year-old has 80% of his adult ST, 90% of his adult DX and IQ, and SM -1. A 15-year-old has adult scores. Interpolate between these values for children in other age groups. HT is usually unaffected by age, but young children might be at -1 or so relative to their adult HT. Note that there is no point cost for Size Modifier; this is merely a special effect. For nonhumans, use the above rules, but adjust the age categories upward or downward in proportion to the race’s rate of development. For instance, a race that reaches adulthood at age 36 instead of age 18 doubles the age thresholds given above. Size Modifier is equal to the sum of the SM given for a human child and the racial SM. In many societies, children are subject to social restrictions. A child generally is Dead Broke (see p. 25), worth -25 points, and has Social Stigma (Minor) (see p. 155), for -5 points. These traits are usually balanced against Patron (Parents; 15 or less), worth 30 points – see Patrons (p. 72). As a child grows up, he should gradually improve his attributes toward their full adult values, reduce



Build Table – over 7’, for a human. This gives you Size Modifier +1 and +1 to Basic Move (long legs), and qualifies you to buy ST and HP at a discount. Choose your weight from the last line of the Build Table and increase it by 10%. You get -2 to Disguise – or to Shadowing, if you are trying to follow someone in a crowd. On the other hand, height often provides a bonus to Intimidation skill (see p. 202). In backward settings, the GM may require you to take a Social Stigma if you suffer from Gigantism. A member of any race may be a giant. Scale your height up by a factor of 1.25 from the racial average, and modify racial SM by +1. Otherwise, the rules remain the same.


the appearance roll for his Patron (and eventually get rid of it altogether), increase his wealth, and buy off his Social Stigma. These changes have their usual point costs.

The Elderly If you age in play, you will eventually have to make HT rolls to avoid attribute loss (see Age and Aging, p. 444). These rolls start at the first “aging threshold” for your race, becoming more frequent at the second threshold and again at the third. These thresholds are 50, 70, and 90 years for humans. If you start at an advanced age, you have no special disadvantages. Not everyone ages well, but heroes are exceptional, and you are free to make elderly characters as fit and as capable as you wish. There are plenty of examples of this kind of person in fiction – and in real life! To create a character who has declined with age, first decide what his attributes were before he got old. Reduce his ST, DX, and HT by 10% at the second aging threshold, or reduce ST, DX, and HT by 20% and IQ by 10% at the third aging threshold. Then purchase the reduced values instead of the values he had in his prime. Note that in many societies, the elderly enjoy great respect. Represent this by taking Social Regard (Venerated) – see p. 86.

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE Appearance is mostly a “special effect” – you may choose any physical appearance you like. At minimum, note the color of your skin, hair, and eyes (or other features appropriate to your race: scales, feathers, paint job, etc.). However, certain traits count as advantages or disadvantages.

Appearance Levels Appearance is rated in levels. Most people have “Average” appearance, for 0 points. Good looks give a reaction bonus; this is an advantage and costs points. Unappealing looks give a reaction penalty; this is a disadvantage, and gives you back points. These reaction modifiers only affect those who can see you! Those who cannot see you might have to make a new reaction roll upon first meeting you in person (GM’s option). Reaction modifiers due to appearance only affect members of your own race, a very similar race, or a dissimilar race that finds your race attractive (for whatever reason). In all cases, the GM’s word is final; humans are “very similar” to elves, but bug-eyed monsters are unlikely to care about a human’s appearance except in a silly campaign. Horrific: You are indescribably monstrous or unspeakably foul, and cannot interact with normal mortals. This gives -6 on reaction rolls. The GM may decide that this trait is supernatural and unavailable to normal characters. -24 points. Monstrous: You are hideous and clearly unnatural. Most people react to you as a monster rather than a sapient being. This gives -5 on reaction rolls. Again, this trait might not be appropriate for normal characters. -20 points. Hideous: You have any sort of disgusting looks you can come up with: a severe skin disease, wall-eye . . . preferably several things at once. This gives -4 on reaction rolls. -16 points. Ugly: As above, but not so bad – maybe only stringy hair and snaggle teeth. This gives -2 on reaction rolls. -8 points. Unattractive: You look vaguely unappealing, but it’s nothing anyone

can put a finger on. This gives -1 on reaction rolls. -4 points. Average: Your appearance gives you no reaction modifiers either way; you can blend easily into a crowd. A viewer’s impression of your looks depends on your behavior. If you smile and act friendly, you will be remembered as pleasant-looking; if you frown and mutter, you will be remembered as unattractive. 0 points. Attractive: You don’t enter beauty contests, but are definitely good-looking. This gives +1 on reaction rolls. 4 points. Handsome (or Beautiful): You could enter beauty contests. This gives +4 on reaction rolls made by those attracted to members of your sex, +2 from everyone else. 12 points. Very Handsome (or Very Beautiful): You could win beauty contests – regularly. This gives +6 on reaction rolls made by those attracted to members of your sex, +2 from others. Exception: Members of the same sex with reason to dislike you (more than -4 in reaction penalties, regardless of bonuses) resent your good looks, and react at -2 instead. As well, talent scouts, friendly drunks, slave traders, and other nuisances are liable to become a problem for you. 16 points. Transcendent: You are an “ideal specimen.” This gives +8 (!) on reaction rolls made by those attracted to members of your sex, +2 from others, and all the troublesome side effects of Very Handsome. The GM is free to reserve this trait for angels, deities, and the like. Such entities frequently possess Charisma (p. 41) or Terror (p. 93) as well. 20 points.

Special Options The following options are available for above-average appearance, and do not affect point costs: Androgynous: If your appearance is Handsome (Beautiful) or better, you may specify that your looks appeal equally to both sexes. You get a flat reaction modifier instead of a sexdependent bonus: +3 for Handsome, +4 for Very Handsome, or +5 for Transcendent. Impressive: If you are Attractive or better, you can specify that you have exceptional physical presence that doesn’t manifest as sexual magnetism. This is typical of tigers and aged




royalty. If your appearance is Handsome (Beautiful) or above, use the “flat” reaction bonuses given for Androgynous.

Special Enhancements Universal: Your reaction modifier applies to everyone who can see you, regardless of race. If your appearance is Handsome (Beautiful) or above, use the “flat” reaction bonuses given for Androgynous. This modifier is most common for Hideous or worse monsters and for Attractive or better gods, faeries, and the like. The GM may deem it off-limits to normal mortals. +25%.

Special Limitations Off-the-Shelf Looks: You can apply this to any appearance better than Attractive. Through ultra-tech or magic, your looks are a variation on a standard type or famous person. You’re as beautiful as ever, but you get half the usual reaction bonus with people from your own culture, because they’ve seen it all before. (“Oh, look! Another Mr. Universe 2003!”) -50%.

OTHER PHYSICAL FEATURES There is more to appearance than good (or not-so-good) looks. You may take any combination of the following traits in conjunction with any appearance level.

Fashion Sense 5 points Your look is always one step ahead of the crowd. You have the ability to create a fashion statement out of the cheapest and most nondescript materials. This gives +1 to reaction rolls in social situations when you have a chance to plan your attire in advance. You can also give someone else a +1 reaction bonus when you put together the outfit.

Mistaken Identity -5 points You are often mistaken for someone else. Your “double’s” allies approach you and tell you things you don’t want to know, and his acquaintances will treat you in strange and irritating ways. His enemies are after


you, too! You might eventually get things straightened out, but not without some effort. If every member of your race looks the same, your race qualifies for a bizarre feature (see Features and Taboo Traits, p. 261), but you do not have Mistaken Identity.

Odious Personal Habits -5, -10, or -15 points You usually or always behave in a fashion repugnant to others. An Odious Personal Habit (OPH) is worth -5 points for every -1 to reaction rolls made by people who notice your problem. Specify the behavior when you create your character, and work out the point value with the GM. Examples: Body odor, constant scratching, or tuneless humming would give -1 to reactions, and are worth -5 points apiece. Constant bad

puns or spitting on the floor would give -2 to reactions, worth -10 points apiece. We leave -15-point habits (-3 to reactions) to the imagination of those depraved enough to want them! The reaction penalty for an OPH applies only to members of your race. It is up to the GM to handle the reactions of other races. A constant drool will irritate other humans, but a Martian might not even notice – and a troll might think it was cute! Of course, an entire race can behave in a manner repugnant to most other races. These “Odious Racial Habits” are priced identically to OPHs.

Pitiable 5 points Something about you makes people pity you and want to take care of you. You get +3 on all reaction rolls from those who consider you to be in

Example of Character Creation (cont’d) We want Dai to look unremarkable – thieves who stand out don’t last long! So we choose an Average build. For ST 8, this suggests a height between 4’10” and 5’8,” and a weight of 90 to 150 lbs. We pick 5’6” and 115 lbs. We make Dai’s appearance Average as well. Since Dai is average in all respects, he pays 0 points. His point total remains at 158 points.

a position of helplessness, weakness, or need (which never includes those with the Callous disadvantage). Taken in conjunction with above-average looks, Pitiable means you are “cute” instead of “sexy”; in combination with below-average looks, it means you are “appealingly homely,” like a basset hound.

Unnatural Features -1 point/level You are superficially “normal” but have one or more disturbing cosmetic features. To qualify for points, these must be unnatural for your race. Pointed ears and eyes like hot coals would be unnatural for a human, but not for a demon from Hell! You must specify the origin of your Unnatural Features: magical curse, ultra-tech surgery, rare disease, etc. Unnatural Features need not be unattractive (if they are, you can also claim points for below-average appearance), but they make it easy for others to identify you and hard for you to blend into a crowd. Each level, to a maximum of five levels, gives -1 to your Disguise and Shadowing skills and +1 to others’ attempts to identify or follow you (including their Observation and Shadowing rolls), unless almost everyone else in the crowd happens to share your features.

SOCIAL BACKGROUND The next few sections discuss your society’s level of technological development, cultures, and languages. It is an advantage to be technologically advanced, culturally literate, or linguistically talented. Inadequacy in these areas can be a crippling disadvantage.

TECHNOLOGY LEVEL (TL) “Technology level” (or “tech level”) is a number that rates technological development. The more advanced the society, the higher its TL; see Tech Level and Starting Wealth (p. 27) for examples from Earth’s history. The GM will tell you the TL of his world. Be sure to note this, as it affects your


access to certain traits – notably skills – and equipment. Characters also have a TL, equal to that of the technology with which they are most familiar. Unless you are especially primitive or advanced, you should record the TL of your game world as your personal TL and move on. In some game worlds, your personal TL may differ from the campaign average. A world might be TL8 on average, but the citizens of one advanced nation might be TL9 while those from an underdeveloped region might be TL7. And the TL of a space, time, or dimension traveler might differ radically from that of his current surroundings. Being from a higher TL than the campaign norm is an advantage;




being from a lower TL is a disadvantage.

Low TL -5 points/TL below campaign TL Your personal TL is below that of the campaign world. You start with no knowledge (or default skill) relating to equipment above your personal TL. You will be able to learn DX-based technological skills (pertaining to vehicles, weapons, etc.) in play, if you can find a teacher, but fundamental differences in thinking prevent you from learning IQ-based technological skills. To overcome this limitation, you must buy off this trait, increasing your personal TL. This usually requires a lengthy period of re-education (see Chapter 9).

High TL 5 points/TL above campaign TL Your personal TL is above that of the campaign world. You may enter play with skills relating to equipment up to your personal TL. This is most useful if you also have access to highTL equipment (see Tech Level and Equipment, p. 27), but the knowledge of a high-tech doctor or scientist can be very useful in a low-tech setting, even without specialized equipment!

CULTURE You are automatically familiar with the social peculiarities of one major culture of your choice. You suffer no skill penalties when interacting with people from that culture. The GM will provide a list of cultures to choose from (or let you invent your own – many GMs appreciate players’ contributions to the game world!). When dealing with an unfamiliar culture, you have -3 to use any skill with a significant cultural component, including Carousing, Connoisseur, Criminology, Dancing, Detect Lies, Diplomacy, Fast-Talk, Games, Gesture, Heraldry, Intimidation, Leadership, Merchant, Poetry, Politics, Psychology, Public Speaking, Savoir-Faire, Sex

Appeal, Sociology, Streetwise, and Teaching. To get rid of this penalty, buy the following advantage:

Cultural Familiarity 1 or 2 points/culture You are familiar with cultures other than your own, and do not suffer the -3 penalty for unfamiliarity. This costs 1 point per culture of the same (or very similar) race, or 2 points per alien culture. To prevent point-cost inflation, the GM should use broad definitions of culture: East Asian, Muslim, Western, etc. A single nation would have to be very different to merit its own Cultural Familiarity. In fantasy worlds, the GM might wish to have one culture per

race; in a futuristic setting, an entire planet or even a galactic empire might have a single, monolithic culture. See Cultural Adaptability (p. 46) for additional options.

LANGUAGE GURPS assumes that most characters can read and write their “native” language. This ability costs no points, but you should note your native language on your character sheet; e.g., “English (Native) [0].” The rest of this section is only important if you can communicate in more than one language (an advantage) or have difficulty with your native tongue (a disadvantage).

Sapience and Language The Language rules are for sapient characters. You must have at least IQ 6 to receive a native tongue for free and be able to learn new languages. Sapience does not guarantee the physical capacity for speech, though – you might need to rely on sign language. Those with IQ 5 or less do not get a native tongue for free and cannot learn languages. They can only communicate basic concepts. They can be taught a few commands, however – see Chapter 16.





Comprehension Levels The point cost to learn an additional language depends on your “comprehension level”: a measure of how well you function in that language overall. There are four comprehension levels: None: You are completely incapable of functioning in the language. If you do not spend points on a non-native language, this comprehension level is assumed – there is no need to note it for every language you don’t know! 0 points/language. Broken: You can recognize important words and understand simple sentences if they are spoken slowly. You have -3 when using skills that depend on language, such as FastTalk, Public Speaking, Research, Speed-Reading, Teaching, and Writing. This doubles to -6 for artistic skills that rely on the beauty of the language (Poetry, Singing, etc.). In stressful situations – e.g., encounters involving combat or reaction rolls – you must roll against IQ to understand or make yourself understood in the language. On a failure, you convey no information, but you may try again. Critical failure means you convey the wrong information! For hurried

speech, bad phone connections, etc., this roll is at -2 to -8! Native speakers who already dislike foreigners (see Intolerance, p. 140) react to you at an extra -1. 2 points/language. Accented: You can communicate clearly, even under stress. However, your speech and writing are idiosyncratic, and it is obvious that this is not your native language. You have -1 when using skills that depend on language, doubled to -2 for artistic skills. You receive no reaction penalty from native speakers, but you will be unable to pass for a native (this can be a major problem for would-be spies!). 4 points/language. Native: You have full mastery of the language, including idioms. You can think in the language. You have no penalty to use skills that depend on language. You start with one language at this level for free. If you buy Native comprehension in a foreign tongue, you can pass for a native speaker. 6 points/language.

Exceptional Competence and Incompetence Great orators, writers, and other masters of the language should start with Native-level comprehension, then

Accents If your spoken comprehension is Broken or better, you can attempt to fake a regional accent. To fool someone, you must win a Quick Contest of Acting (p. 174) or Mimicry (Speech) (p. 210) vs. his IQ. You are at -6 for Broken comprehension, or -2 for Accented . . . but a non-Native listener has similar penalties to his IQ roll! Each accent is a separate familiarity (see p. 169) for Acting or Mimicry. To memorize a new accent, you must listen to that accent used in conversation for at least one hour and make a successful roll against the higher of IQ or Linguistics, at +5 for Eidetic Memory or +10 for Photographic Memory (see Eidetic Memory, p. 51).

Broken to Broken If you and the person with whom you are speaking both have a comprehension level of Broken, conversation will be difficult. This is definitely a “stressful situation”! Each of you must roll against IQ once per piece of information; all the usual modifiers apply. If you both succeed, you get the point across. If one of you fails, you just fail to communicate. But if both of you fail, the listener gets the wrong idea. This could be embarrassing or dangerous – possibly for both of you. The GM should be creative!





learn skills such as Public Speaking and Writing at very high levels. Poorly educated individuals who can barely get by in their native tongue should take the point difference between their actual level and Native level as a disadvantage. For instance, someone who has his native tongue at Broken level has a -4-point disadvantage.

Spoken vs. Written Language The point costs above assume that you read/write and speak the language equally well. If your written and spoken ability differ, select separate spoken and written comprehension levels and pay half cost for each. For instance, if you learned to write French from a book, you might have “French: Spoken (None)/Written (Native) [3].”

Literacy Your written comprehension level determines your degree of literacy in that language: Literacy is a written comprehension of Accented or better. You can read and write competently and at full speed. Semi-literacy is a written comprehension of Broken. A semi-literate person would require three minutes to read this sentence, and would have to make an IQ roll to understand the full meaning! Many words are always unintelligible to a semi-literate person, including some in this paragraph. Illiteracy is a written comprehension of None. If this is the case, you really can’t read! Signs, scrolls, books, and names on maps (though not the maps themselves) are completely incomprehensible to you. The player may pass secret notes to the GM (and vice versa), but the character cannot read anything. At TL4 and below, it is quite possible to go all your life without needing to read. In settings like this, illiteracy or semi-literacy is the norm. Most people have a spoken comprehension level of Native, but their written comprehension is Broken or None. Illiteracy in your native tongue – Spoken (Native)/Written (None) – is a disadvantage worth -3 points. Semiliteracy – Spoken (Native)/Written

Example of Character Creation (cont’d) Dai is from a TL3 (medieval) world, but that’s “background color” – his ISWAT trainers corrected this deficiency. He currently functions at TL8, which is standard in the Infinite Worlds setting. The cost to be at the campaign-average tech level is 0 points. Dai is familiar with Yrth’s culture and knows one of its languages: Anglish. This costs 0 points; everybody gets a culture and a language for free. But Dai is also familiar with the culture of ISWAT’s world, Homeline, and has passable English. Cultural Familiarity (Homeline) is 1 point, while English (Accented) is another 4 points. Dai pays a total of 5 points for his social background. This makes his current point total 163 points.

(Broken) – is worth -2 points. The GM should not count these points against the disadvantage limit if illiteracy is the norm in the game world.

Sign Language A true sign language – e.g., American Sign Language – is complex,

stylized, and can communicate almost any concept. Treat it as any other language, with one important difference: a sign language has one form (signed) instead of two (spoken and written). As a result, sign languages costs half as much: 1 point for Broken, 2 points for Accented, and 3 points for Native comprehension.

WEALTH Now you need to determine your position in your society: How much money do you have, what privileges do you enjoy, and how do others react to you?

WEALTH Wealth is relative. A middle-class American lives in more luxury than a medieval king, though he may have fewer gold coins in his basem*nt. It all depends on the game world – see Tech Level and Starting Wealth (p. 27). In most worlds, the range of standard starting wealth and income is relatively great, and your skills determine your job and income; see Economics (p. 514) for more information. Personal wealth is rated in “wealth levels.” A level of “Average” costs no points, and lets you support an average lifestyle for your game world. The rest of these rules apply if you are unusually poor or wealthy, have a source of income that does not require you to work, or are in debt.

Characters with the Deafness (p. 129) or Mute (p. 125) disadvantages start with one sign language and written ability in one regular language – both at Native level – instead of spoken and written ability in one language. Those who are illiterate, or incompetent at sign language, can buy down their language abilities using the usual rules.

Learning Languages To learn a new language, use the rules for learning skills (p. 292): 200 hours of learning gives you one point to spend. Note that language study is four times as hard without a teacher! If you live in another country and speak its language at all times, that is the automatic equivalent of 4 hours/day of training; there is no need to allocate specific study time unless you want to get more than this default. Thus, every 50 days, you get a character point to spend in that language.


Wealth Variable Above-average Wealth is an advantage; it means you start with two or more times the average starting wealth of your game world. Below-average Wealth is a disadvantage; it means you start with only a fraction of average starting wealth. The precise meaning of each wealth level in a particular game world will be defined in the associated worldbook. Dead Broke: You have no job, no source of income, no money, and no property other than the clothes you are wearing. Either you are unable to work or there are no jobs to be found. -25 points. Poor: Your starting wealth is only 1/5 of the average for your society. Some jobs are not available to you, and no job you find pays very well. -15 points. Struggling: Your starting wealth is only 1/2 of the average for your society. Any job is open to you (you can be a Struggling doctor or movie actor), but you don’t earn much. This is




appropriate if you are, for instance, a 21st-century student. -10 points. Average: The default wealth level, as explained above. 0 points. Comfortable: You work for a living, but your lifestyle is better than most. Your starting wealth is twice the average. 10 points. Wealthy: Your starting wealth is five times average; you live very well indeed. 20 points. Very Wealthy: Your starting wealth is 20 times the average. 30 points. Filthy Rich: Your starting wealth is 100 times average. You can buy almost anything you want without considering the cost. 50 points. Multimillionaire: “Filthy rich” doesn’t even begin to describe your wealth! For every 25 points you spend beyond the 50 points to be Filthy Rich, increase your starting wealth by another factor of 10: Multimillionaire 1 costs 75 points and gives 1,000 times average starting wealth, Multimillionaire 2 costs 100 points gives 10,000 times starting wealth, and so on. 50 points + 25 points/level of Multimillionaire.


Wealth and Status In some game worlds, Status (see p. 28) is closely tied to Wealth. In a setting like this, if you are Wealthy or better, you get +1 Status for free. This bonus increases to +2 at Multimillionaire 1 and to +3 at Multimillionaire 2. No one may claim more than +3 Status from Wealth.

Independent Income 1 point/level You have a source of income that does not require you to work: stock portfolio, trust fund, rental property, royalties, pension, etc. Your monthly

income is 1% of your starting wealth (adjusted for wealth level) per level of this trait, to a maximum of 20%. If your income derives from investments, you need not specify their value; this trait assumes that you cannot or will not invade your capital. This trait is unrelated to wealth level. A Filthy Rich heiress has Independent Income . . . but so do an Average pensioner and a Poor welfare recipient. Independent Income most often means your occupation is something like dilettante, retiree, or welfare recipient – not an actual “job.”

Starting Wealth “Starting wealth” covers both money and property. Start with the amount of money your wealth level entitles you to for your game world. Buy the possessions you want to start with (see Chapter 8, or consult the equipment list in the relevant worldbook). Any unspent money is your “bank account.” Realistically, if you have a settled lifestyle, you should put 80% of your starting wealth into home, clothing, etc., which leaves only 20% for “adventuring” gear. If you are a wanderer (pioneer, knight-errant, Free Trader, etc.), or Poor or worse, the GM might allow you to spend all your starting wealth on movable possessions. The GM should not allow wealthy PCs to bankroll their poorer associates. This makes below-average Wealth little more than “free points.” The GM might allow rich characters to hire poor ones. If so, he should make it obvious – through such means as NPC reactions (“Oh, so you’re the hired help?”) – that the poorer PC is earning his disadvantage points by giving up some of his independence.

Trading Points for Money If you need a little extra money, you may trade character points for it – either at the time of creation or in play. Each point yields 10% of the campaign’s average starting wealth. Money obtained this way can be saved, invested, gambled, spent on equipment, etc. You are free to spend as many points as you wish, but if you plan to spend more than 10 points, you would be better off just buying Wealth! Unlike Wealth, points traded for money do not appear on your character sheet – they are gone. If you exercise this option during character creation, you are worth fewer points than your associates (but you are better equipped!). You can also spend points on specific equipment, if it’s key to your character concept. See Signature Gear, p. 85.

Later Earnings You can depend on your adventures to bring in money . . . or you can get a job (see p. 516). Remember that in many worlds, unemployment is cause for grave suspicion and bad reaction rolls. If a poor PC becomes wealthy, the GM should require the player to “buy off” the disadvantage with character points – see p. 121.





However, you can have Independent Income and a job; just add the income from both sources. If you are wealthy, this allows you to work less than full time (e.g., 10 hours per week instead of 40, for 1/4 the usual salary) and still make a good living.

Debt -1 point/level You owe money. This could represent a loan, back taxes, child support, or alimony . . . or “hush money” paid to blackmailers . . . or “protection money” extorted by gangsters. You must make a monthly payment equal to 1% of your starting wealth (adjusted for wealth level) per level of this trait, to a maximum of 20%. Debt can accompany any wealth level above Dead Broke; plenty of multimillionaires owe significant amounts of money! Your monthly payment is deducted from your monthly earnings at your job. If your job cannot cover your Debt, you have to pay out of your cash reserves, take a second job, or steal. If you cannot pay – or choose not to pay – there will be trouble. For bank loans, this means repossession of your worldly goods. For alimony, child support, fines, or taxes, this means a court date. And if you owe money to the mob, you might end up being strongarmed into criminal activities . . . or staring down the barrel of a shotgun. The GM should be creative! It is assumed that you cannot easily rid yourself of this obligation. It takes more than money to buy off Debt – you must pay off the points and work out a logical in-game explanation with the GM.

REPUTATION It is possible to be so well-known that your reputation becomes an advantage or a disadvantage. This affects reaction rolls made by NPCs (see p. 494). A reputation has four elements: Details, Reaction Modifier, People Affected, and Frequency of Recognition.

Details The details of your reputation are entirely up to you; you can be known for bravery, ferocity, eating green

snakes, or whatever you want. However, you must give specifics. Reputation is, by definition, something noteworthy; there is no such thing as a “generic” reputation.

Reaction Modifier Specify the reaction-roll modifier that you get from people who recognize you. This determines the base cost of your reputation. For every +1 bonus to reaction rolls (up to +4), the cost is 5 points. For every -1 penalty (up to -4), the cost is -5 points.

People Affected The size of the group of people who might have heard of you modifies the base cost: Almost everyone in your game world (but not those from other universes – at least, not until they have met you!): ¥1. Almost everyone in your game world except one large class (everyone but the French, everyone but Elves, everyone but offworld visitors): ¥2/3 (round down). Large class of people (all people of a particular faith, all mercenaries, all tradesmen, etc.): ¥1/2 (round down). Small class of people (all priests of Wazoo, all literate people in 12th-century England, all mages in modern Alabama): ¥1/3 (round down). If the class of people affected is so small that, in the GM’s opinion, you would not meet even one in the average adventure, your reputation isn’t worth points. This depends on the setting; for instance, mercenary soldiers are rare in some game worlds, common in others.

Tech Level and Starting Wealth Tech level (p. 22) determines starting wealth, as technologically advanced societies tend to be richer. Below is a comparison of TLs and suggested starting wealth. TL0 TL1 TL2 TL3 TL4 TL5 TL6 TL7 TL8 TL9 TL10 TL11 TL12+

Stone Age (Prehistory and later). $250. Bronze Age (3500 B.C.+). $500. Iron Age (1200 B.C.+). $750. Medieval (600 A.D.+). $1,000. Age of Sail (1450+). $2,000. Industrial Revolution (1730+). $5,000. Mechanized Age (1880+). $10,000. Nuclear Age (1940+). $15,000. Digital Age (1980+). $20,000. Microtech Age (2025+?). $30,000. Robotic Age (2070+?). $50,000. Age of Exotic Matter. $75,000. Whatever the GM likes! $100,000.

GURPS gives wealth and prices in “$” for convenience. The $ can stand for “dollars,” “credits,” “pennies,” or even units of barter. In a contemporary setting, $1 is a modern U.S. dollar. In other periods, $1 equates roughly with the amount of local currency needed to buy a loaf of bread or equivalent staple – not with historical U.S. dollars. For example, in a high medieval society, each $ might be a copper farthing. In WWII-era America, each $ would convert to $0.10 in deflated 1940s-era dollars. And in a cyberpunk world with hyperinflation, each $ might equal $1,000 in grossly devalued 2030-era dollars! The GURPS $ is a constant, however. Variations in starting wealth by TL reflect increased prosperity due to civilization’s progress – not inflation. Worldbooks might give starting wealth, wages, and prices in local currency – historical U.S. dollars, British pounds, pieces of eight, etc. In such cases, they will always give a conversion factor to constant $.

Tech Level and Equipment You enter play with “starting wealth” appropriate to the campaign TL. If you are from a higher TL, you may start with access to the equipment of your personal TL. However, the price of an item of equipment is doubled for every TL by which its TL exceeds that of the campaign! For instance, a TL8 character in a TL3 game world starts with the same $1,000 as everyone else at TL3. If he wants a TL8 assault rifle that normally costs $1,500, it costs him 32 times as much (five TLs of difference results in five doublings, or a factor of 32) – or $48,000 – since the rifle is far more valuable in a lowtech setting. He’d need to start with some Wealth! There is no guarantee that high-TL adventurers will continue to have access to high-tech gear in play. If you want a piece of gear, then you should buy it when you start out. If your TL8 adventurer is dropped into a TL3 world with 100 rounds of ammunition for his assault rifle, then he had better use it wisely. Once it’s gone, it’s gone . . .

Frequency of Recognition Either your name or your face is enough to trigger a “reputation roll” to see if the people you meet have heard of you. Roll once for each person or small group you meet. For a large group, the GM may roll more than once if he likes. The frequency with which you are recognized modifies the cost of your reputation:





Classless Meritocracies In many societies, especially feudal ones, Status is the primary form of social rank. However, some societies, notably modern and futuristic ones, claim to be “classless.” This does not mean that social rank doesn’t exist! It just means that merit – most often in the form of wealth, education, or public service – replaces entitlement or birthright as the determiner of relative social position. In a classless society, the GM may wish to limit the amount of Status that PCs can buy directly to only two levels. This represents some combination of higher education, professional license (such as in law or medicine), respected family name, and cultural achievements (anything from “rock star” to “poet laureate”). The only way to obtain higher Status is to get it for “free” from high Wealth (p. 25) or Rank (p. 29). In a society where some form of Rank – not Status – is the official yardstick of power, it takes finesse to turn high Status to your advantage. For instance, you might come from a “good” family and have a decent education, allowing you to buy Status 2 outright. You might also be rich (Multimillionaire 1) for +2 Status and hold local office (Administrative Rank 3) for +1 Status. This would give you Status 5 in total. To overrule a senior bureaucrat with Administrative Rank 6 and Status 2, though, you’ll have to use your social connections. You might have more clout in high society (Status 5 vs. Status 2), but he outranks you in the eyes of the law (Rank 6 vs. Rank 3)!

All the time: ¥1. Sometimes (roll of 10 or less): ¥1/2 (round down). Occasionally (roll of 7 or less): ¥1/3 (round down). Of course, your reputation extends only within a certain area. If you travel far enough away, the GM may require you to “buy off” the disadvantage points you received for a bad reputation. (There is no corresponding bonus for losing a good reputation.)

Multiple Reputations You may have more than one reputation, and your reputations can overlap. The GM should check each one before determining how an NPC reacts to you. Your total reaction modifier from reputations cannot be better than +4 or worse than -4 in a given situation.

Multifaceted Reputations A single reputation can give different reaction modifiers with different groups, provided the groups do not overlap. Set the reaction modifier for each group, modify the cost for the size of the group, and then add up the


resulting costs. Modify this total for frequency of recognition. The reputation is an advantage if the net point cost is positive, a disadvantage if negative. The final point cost may be 0, but you should still record it on your character sheet! Example 1: Sir Anacreon has a reputation for fearless monster-slaying. This earns him a +2 reaction from those who recognize him. Everyone has heard of him (no modifier), and he is recognized on a roll of 10 or less (¥1/2). He has a 5-point advantage. Example 2: The Green Dragon has a reputation as a crimefighter. He gets +3 reactions from honest citizens – which is almost everyone except the large class of dishonest citizens (¥2/3) – for 10 points. He receives a -4 reaction from the underworld – a large group (¥1/2) – for -10 points. The net point cost for his reputation is 0 points. If his player wished, he could specify a frequency of recognition, but the final cost would still be 0 points.

IMPORTANCE Your formally recognized place in society is distinct from your personal




fame and fortune. To influence others through established channels (as opposed to relying on popularity or bribery), you must purchase one or more types of social rank, each of which has unique benefits and drawbacks.

Status 5 points/level Status is a measure of social standing. In most game worlds, Status levels range from -2 (serf or street person) to 8 (powerful emperor or godking), with the average man being Status 0 (freeman or ordinary citizen). If you do not specifically buy Status, you have Status 0. Status costs 5 points per level. For instance, Status 5 costs 25 points, while Status -2 is -10 points. Status also costs money to maintain (see p. 516). Status is not the same as personal popularity (see Reputation, p. 26) or the popularity of your racial or ethnic group (see Social Regard, p. 86, and Social Stigma, p. 155). Status can sometimes influence others’ reactions, but its main effect is to spell out where you stand in the social pecking order. In short, Status represents power.

High Status Status greater than 0 means you are a member of the ruling class in your culture. Your family may be hereditary nobles (e.g., Plantagenet, Windsor), successful businessmen or politicians (Rockefeller, Kennedy), or some other type of big shots. You may even have achieved Status by your own efforts. As a result, others in your culture only defer to you, giving you a bonus on all reaction rolls. High Status carries various privileges, different in every game world; your GM will give you this information. Note that any high-Status person is a likely target for kidnappers and social climbers, and that some criminal types hate “the ruling class.”

Low Status Status less than 0 means you are a serf or a slave, or simply very poor. This is not the same thing as Social Stigma (p. 155). In medieval Japan, for instance, a woman could have high Status, but still get a -1 on reactions due to the Social Stigma of being female. A modern-day criminal could theoretically have any level of Status

in conjunction with the Social Stigma of a criminal record. The interaction of Status, Social Stigma, and Reputation can give interesting results. For instance, a person who is obviously from a lower social class, or even a disdained minority group, might earn such a reputation as a hero that others react well to him.

Status as a Reaction Modifier When the GM makes a reaction roll (see p. 494), the relative Status of the characters involved can affect the reaction. The GM can roleplay NPCs as he likes, of course, but here are some general guidelines: Higher Status usually gives a reaction bonus. When dealing with a social inferior, apply the difference between your Status levels as a reaction bonus – except, of course, when dealing with someone who resents Status. For instance, if you have Status 3, those of Status 1 react to you at +2, and those of Status 0 react at +3. Lower Status may give a penalty. If you are dealing with a higher-Status NPC who is basically friendly, your Status doesn’t matter (as long as it’s positive). After all, the king has a far higher Status than his knights, but he reacts well to them . . . most of the time. But if the NPC is neutral or already angry, lower Status makes it worse (“How dare you, a mere knight, tell me my battle plan is foolish?”). Again, apply the difference in Status levels as a reaction modifier, but in this case it gives a penalty. Negative Status usually gives a penalty. If your Status is so low as to be negative, those of higher Status always react badly to you. Apply the difference between your Status and the NPC’s as a reaction penalty, but no worse than -4.

Recognizing Status Status only affects reaction rolls if it is obvious to those around you. In some settings, your bearing, dress, and speech communicate your Status. Indeed, if you have very high Status, your face may be easily recognized – or perhaps the gaggle of servants that surrounds you gets the message across. In other societies, you will have to produce physical proof (ID cards, signet rings, etc.), pass a test, or submit to ultra-tech or magical scans

before you will be recognized. Status costs no fewer points in such societies; you may get fewer reaction bonuses, but you can also live a normal life, and it is far more difficult for someone to impersonate you.

Rank 5 or 10 points/level Specific sectors of society – e.g., the civil service, the military, and certain powerful religions – often have internal ranking systems, distinct from Status. If an organization like this has significant social influence, or access to useful resources, then its members must pay points for their rank within the organization. Rank comes in levels. Each Rank has authority over those of lower Rank – regardless of personal ability. In most cases, there are six to eight levels of Rank. The GM should determine the highest Rank available to starting characters, usually Rank 3-5. Unlike Status, Rank costs no money to maintain. On the other hand, almost all forms of Rank come with a Duty (see p. 133). Rank often has stringent prerequisites, too –

typically one of the traits given under Privilege (p. 30) or a minimum skill level. These things have their own point costs, not included in the cost of the Rank. In a given society, there are usually several systems of Rank; the precise varieties depend on the game world. In most cases, you may hold more than one kind of Rank, although the GM is free to rule that holding one sort of Rank precludes holding another. Rank may coexist with Status. If so, then high Rank grants additional Status at no extra cost: +1 to Status at Rank 2-4, +2 to Status at Rank 5-7, and +3 to Status at Rank 8 or higher. This represents society’s respect for senior members of important social institutions. If you hold multiple types of Rank, then you may claim a Status bonus for each of them. Alternatively, one form of Rank might replace Status; for instance, Religious Rank in a theocracy. In societies like this, Status does not exist. Each level of Rank gives all its usual benefits plus the effect of an equivalent level of Status.

Special Rules for Rank A number of special situations might arise in play for those with Rank.

Temporary Rank Those of higher Rank may temporarily increase your Rank for a predetermined amount of time – until the end of a project, battle, etc. This process is called brevetting in the case of Military Rank. To keep temporary Rank, you must meet all the usual requirements and pay the appropriate point cost.

Courtesy Rank Those who have formerly held Rank may retain that Rank as “Courtesy Rank” for only 1 point per level. Those who currently hold a title that carries little real authority may also take Courtesy Rank. Courtesy Rank is for social situations only; it gives you a fancier title.

Rank for Spies Officers of national intelligence services often possess a special category of Military Rank, distinct from that of line soldiers. Employees of civilian intelligence agencies usually possess some variety of Administrative Rank instead. Finally, some counterintelligence officers are actually police, and hold Police Rank. Those playing spies should consult with the GM before purchasing Rank of any kind!





Rank is worth 5 points per level if it coexists with Status, or 10 points per level if it replaces Status. Common varieties of Rank include: Administrative Rank: Position within a governmental bureaucracy. When dealing with other administrators, differences in Rank work just like differences in Status (see p. 28). At TL5 and higher, a large bureaucracy might have several varieties of Rank: one per government department, and possibly extra categories for the senate, judiciary, etc. (Defense or law-enforcement officials use Military or Police Rank instead.) Note this on your character sheet; e.g., Administrative Rank (Judiciary). Merchant Rank: Position within a national or transnational organization of merchants. This could be anything from the mercantile culture of the Aztecs (where Merchant Rank verged on being Status) to the “merchant marine” of a modern or futuristic society (where Merchant Rank often parallels Military Rank during wartime). Military Rank: Position within a military organization. Each organization is structured differently. In general, personnel that are not specifically leaders will be Rank 0-2, while lowlevel officers and senior enlisted men will be Rank 3-4. Rank 5 and higher is normally limited to major commands and duties where the officer is responsible for extremely valuable or rare resources. Limited-duty officers, specialists, and personnel with little actual responsibility or command authority have a lower Rank in GURPS terms, despite possibly possessing titles identical to those of a higher Rank; represent this with one or more levels of Courtesy Rank (see Courtesy Rank, p. 29)


Example of Character Creation (cont’d) ISWAT feeds and clothes Dai, and issues him the equipment he needs on a mission, but does not let him fetch his loot from Yrth. Thus, he does not personally own much. We give him Wealth (Poor), for -15 points. This gives 1/5 starting wealth for TL8, or $4,000. Still, by Yrth standards (starting wealth at TL3 is only $1,000), he lives in more luxury than he knew as a master thief! Looking at the traits listed under Privilege and Social Restraints, we choose two to reflect Dai’s job. ISWAT is powerful, and its agents’ Legal Enforcement Powers (p. 65) reach across time and space, for 15 points. But these powers come with a Duty (p. 133), which occurs on 15 or less and is extremely hazardous, for -20 points. Dai’s wealth and influence are worth a net -20 points. This lowers his running point total to 143 points.

Police Rank: Position in a police force. Each agency has its own variety of Rank. You must buy Legal Enforcement Powers (p. 65) before you can buy Police Rank; this is the difference between a patrol officer (Police Rank 0, for 0 points) and an ordinary citizen (no Police Rank, also 0 points). Note that in a police state, there is no difference between Police Rank and Military Rank. Religious Rank: Position in a religious hierarchy. Each religion has its own variety of Rank. You must buy Clerical Investment (p. 43) before you can buy Religious Rank; this is the difference between a novice (Religious Rank 0, for 0 points) and a layperson (no Religious Rank, also 0 points). Other common requirements include a minimum level of Theology skill and being of a particular sex or race. Differences in Rank work just like differences in Status (see p. 28) when dealing with co-religionists and those who respect your faith.




PRIVILEGE You may buy special privileges within your society – e.g., a hard-toobtain license, an “in” with an influential social group, or an exemption from certain laws – that allow you more latitude in your actions. Such advantages are not directly linked to Rank or Status. For instance, a spy with low Rank might have a “license to kill,” while his commander, a bureaucrat with much higher Rank, is bound by all the rules of polite society. Privileges include the advantages of Claim to Hospitality (p. 41), Clerical Investment (p. 43), Legal Enforcement Powers (p. 65), Legal Immunity (p. 65), Security Clearance (p. 82), Social Regard (p. 86), and Tenure (p. 93).

SOCIAL RESTRAINTS Your social situation can instead deprive you of freedom. This can take many forms: an onerous obligation; the need to hide your deeds or lifestyle in order to avoid persecution; or widespread disdain for your cultural group, occupation, or social class. Such traits are considered disadvantages – see Duty (p. 133), Secret (p. 152), and Social Stigma (p. 155). All of these traits are externally imposed. If you are limited by your values, see Self-Imposed Mental Disadvantages (p. 121) instead.

FRIENDS You can claim to know just about anyone – and maybe you really do! Your life history should include at least some details about your relationships – good, neutral, or bad – with other people in the game world. It costs points to have associates you can rely on for assistance during an adventure. Likewise, individuals who complicate your life or actively seek to thwart you, personally, are worth points as disadvantages. Note that these NPCs need not be people– they might be spirits, animal sidekicks, or robots.

ASSOCIATED NPCS Some friends and foes physically enter play when they appear. These “Associated NPCs” have personalities,



life histories, and character sheets, just like PCs. In each case, the GM will interview you regarding the attitude, character story, and general abilities of the NPC, and then use this information to create a character sheet. Character sheets for Associated NPCs – like those of all NPCs – are for the GM’s eyes only. You will not have access to them! When these NPCs become involved in the game, the GM plays their roles and control their actions. Thus, even your closest associates are never 100% predictable. Buy advantageous Associated NPCs as Allies (p. 36) or Patrons (p. 72). Disadvantageous ones include Dependents (p. 131) and Enemies (p. 135). The GM’s word is final in all cases. The GM is free to forbid an Associated NPC that he feels would be disruptive, unbalanced, or

inappropriate. He might even choose to forbid entire classes of NPCs – Dependents, Enemies, Patrons, etc. – if he feels they would unduly disrupt the flow of the game.

CONTACTS You may also have associates who provide useful information or very minor favors, but who do not become physically involved in dangerous adventures. They appear only for long enough to help out, and then quickly depart. The GM will roleplay them and give them personalities, but since they are no more likely than any other friendly NPC to get involved in the action, they do not require full character sheets. Purchase such NPCs as Contacts (p. 44) or Contact Groups (p. 44).

IDENTITIES By now, you should have a good idea of what you look like and who you are . . . but this might be only one of several faces that you show the world. Most people have just one identity – but a criminal, spy, super, or vigilante might have multiple identities. A functional alternate identity costs points; see Alternate Identity (p. 39). On the other hand, keeping your identity a secret can be troublesome and expensive enough to qualify as a Secret Identity disadvantage (p. 153). And if you have no legal identity, you are Zeroed (p. 100).

Pseudonyms In many countries – including the present-day United States – it is legal to use a false name for privacy as long as you do not attempt to defraud or interfere with public records. You can rent an apartment as “Mr. Smith,” paying cash, without problems. But you can’t get a driver’s license, etc., legally. This sort of “weak identity” costs no points, and is popular with rock stars and actors (who often use a “stage name”), writers (in the form of a nom de plume), and traveling royalty.

Temporary Identities Anyone can have a hasty or lowquality Alternate Identity (p. 39).

Alternate Identity vs. Secret Identity A Secret Identity (p. 153) isn’t the same as an Alternate Identity (p. 39). If there are no false records to back up a Secret Identity, it doesn’t count as an Alternate Identity. And if you use an Alternate Identity only to hold a secret bank account (for instance), and never try to “live” that persona, it isn’t a Secret Identity.




While useful, such a false identity will eventually be noticed and eliminated (and the user sought after!). This kind of identity is not considered an advantage, and costs no points; buy it with cash. A standard Temporary Identity is guaranteed to be good for one week. At the end of that week, the GM rolls 3d. On a roll of 8 or less, the authorities have discovered the false records. Otherwise, the identity holds up for another week and the process repeats itself, but the “discovery roll” is at a cumulative +1 for every week past the first (9 or less at the end of the second week, 10 or less at the end of the third week, and so on). The price of a Temporary Identity is negotiable, and depends on your contacts, skills, and the setting. The cheaper the identity, the more frequently the GM will roll – a really cheap one might only be good for a day, with rolls every day! More expensive identities, lasting longer or starting at a lower number, might also be available. Someone who is Zeroed (p. 100) can use a Temporary Identity.



ADVANTAGES An “advantage” is a useful trait that gives you a mental, physical, or social “edge” over someone else who otherwise has the same abilities as you. Each advantage has a cost in character points. This is fixed for some advantages; others can be bought in “levels,” at a cost per level (e.g., Acute Vision costs 2 points/level, so if you want Acute Vision 6, you must pay 12 points). Advantages with “Variable” cost are more complicated; read the advantage description for details. You can start out with many advantages as you can afford – although some advantages are forbidden to certain kinds of characters. You can also add advantages in play, if the GM permits. For instance, all the beneficial social traits in Chapter 1 (Status, Wealth, etc.) are advantages, and you could realistically acquire any of these in the course of the game. Magic and high technology can often grant advantages as well. For information on adding advantages in play, see Chapter 9.




Advantages fall into several broad categories, each of which has affects who can possess those advantages and how they work in play.

Mental 2, Physical 3, and Social 4

Mental advantages originate from your mind, or perhaps even your soul. They stay with you even if your mind ends up in a new body due to possession, a brain transplant, etc. Magical, psionic, and spiritual traits usually fall into this category. Most mental advantages work automatically, but a few require a roll against IQ, Perception, or Will to use. Mental advantages are marked 2. Physical advantages are part of your body. You lose these traits if your mind moves to a new body – and if another mind takes over your body, the body’s new owner gains your physical advantages. Advantages provided by bionics and similar implants usually fall into this category. Make a HT roll to activate any physical advantage that does not work automatically. Physical advantages are marked 3. Social advantages are associated with your identity. Whether identity is a facet of mind or of body depends on the game world. In a fantasy setting, a demon might possess a duke and “become” a respected noble instead of a feared demon, while in a far-future society, people might routinely “upload” into new bodies with no effect on social standing. As with all things, the GM’s word is final. Note that this category includes Rank, Status, Wealth, and related traits from Chapter 1. Social advantages are marked 4. Many exotic and supernatural advantages (see below) could belong to more than one of these categories. This is noted (e.g., as 2/3) where especially appropriate. The GM has the final say. The 2, 3, and 4 markers are meant to assist GM judgment, not replace it.

Exotic 1, Supernatural 5, and Mundane

Exotic advantages are traits that ordinary humans cannot have without ultra-tech body modification or similar tampering; for instance, extra arms or death-ray vision. Nonhumans will often have exotic advantages on a racial basis, but this does not entitle them to add such traits freely. You need the GM’s permission to add exotic traits that do not appear on your racial template (see Chapter 7). Exotic advantages are marked 1.



Supernatural advantages are impossible in nature and cannot be justified by science – or even “superscience.” They rely on divine intervention, magic, psionics, etc. The classic example is magical talent (see Magery, p. 66). Supernatural traits differ from exotic ones in that anyone might be supernaturally gifted – even a “normal” human, if the GM permits. Having a trait like this does not automatically mark you as an alien or a mutant. Supernatural advantages are marked 5. Mundane advantages are inborn or learned edges and knacks that anyone might have. There are normally no restrictions on who may possess a mundane advantage. Mundane advantages are not specially marked – if you don’t see 1 or 5, the advantage is mundane and available to anyone with the GM’s permission. This last point is important! Some mundane traits are intended for cinematic campaigns (see The Cinematic Campaign, p. 488); the GM may forbid them in realistic games. Cinematic traits are always clearly indicated in the text.

ADVANTAGE ORIGINS When you select exotic or supernatural advantages, you must also choose an in-game justification for those abilities: biology, high technology, a divine gift, etc. Explaining your capabilities in terms that have meaning in the game world will give you a better “feel” for your character and give the GM some additional “adventure hooks.” Origins are usually just special effects. For instance, if you can sprout claws, they use the rules under Claws (p. 42) whether they are natural, cybernetic, or a gift from the Tiger God. Sometimes, though, you will encounter things that can only affect or be affected by a specific class of abilities. Furthermore, the GM may rule that talents with certain origins are more or less effective in a particular situation. In those cases, it is important to know how your advantage works. Most characters have only one origin for all of their abilities, but you may choose a separate origin for each

Potential Advantages You will sometimes see an advantage you would like to have but that would not make sense at the start of your career – or that you cannot afford on your starting points! Or you might just want to start your adventuring career with unrealized potential, like countless fictional heroes. In either situation, the GM may choose to let you set aside 50% of the cost of an advantage as a “down payment” against acquiring the advantage later on. When you take a potential advantage like this, sit down with the GM and work out the in-game conditions under which you will acquire the desired trait. When these conditions are met, you must use bonus character points to pay the other half of the price as soon as possible; see Improvement Through Adventure (p. 290). The GM is free to assess partial or uncontrollable benefits befitting the trait until you finish paying for the full, controllable advantage. Examples of potential advantages include: Heir: You stand to inherit wealth or a title. The GM decides when you will come into your inheritance. At that time, you acquire Status, Wealth, or other social privileges worth twice the points set aside for this trait. Until then, you enjoy extra money, reaction modifiers, etc. equal to half what you stand to gain. For instance, if you stood to inherit +2 to Status [10] and Comfortable wealth [10], Heir would cost 10 points, and give +1 to Status and a 50% bonus to starting wealth. Schrödinger’s Advantage: You can specify that at some critical juncture in an adventure, just when all seems lost, you will suddenly discover a new ability – worth twice the points you have set aside – that will help you out of trouble. You must immediately pay the remaining points to use your new ability. This is a powerful option. To keep things fair, points set aside this way provide no benefit until you discover your hidden talent. Secret Advantage: You have an advantage you don’t know about! The GM picks an advantage or set of advantages worth twice the points you have set aside . . . but he will not tell you what it is, or even give you a clue! The GM will reveal the truth at a suitably dramatic moment. Until then, the advantage provides the usual benefits – but it isn’t under your control, so you won’t be able to rely on it. The advantage functions normally once revealed and paid for.

of your advantages if you wish, subject to GM approval. The GM sets the origins available in his campaign. Examples include: Biological: Inborn features (unique to you or part of your racial makeup) and mutations. Medical science can detect and analyze these traits, and – at higher tech levels – add or remove them through genetic engineering, implants, or surgery. Chi: Powers that originate from the “inner strength” of martial artists and yoga masters (also known as ki and prana). Disease and similar afflictions can sometimes weaken such abilities –


for instance, by throwing your yin and yang out of balance. Cosmic: Abilities that emanate from the universe itself or otherwise defy explanation. This is reserved for gods, powerful spirits, supers, etc. If your ability produces effects that only other cosmic powers can counteract, this is an enhancement; see Cosmic (p. 103). Divine: Gifts from the gods (if you are a god, use Cosmic). In areas of low “sanctity” for your god – e.g., the temple of a rival god, or a foreign land where your god is unknown – you might find your abilities reduced or unavailable.


What’s Allowed The GM determines which exotic and supernatural traits are allowed – and to whom – in his campaign. In a futuristic “transhuman” game world, the GM might declare that it is possible to add specific exotic advantages via surgery or genetic modification, but rule that supernatural advantages simply do not exist. In a 1920s horror game, the GM might allow many supernatural abilities, but no exotic ones. And in a supers campaign, the GM could let the players buy anything they have points for, vetting troublesome traits on a case-by-case basis. Players should develop the habit of reading 1 and 5 as “requires GM permission.”

High-Tech: Nonbiological implants in biological characters, as well as all abilities of cyborgs, robots, and vehicles. Sensors can detect and analyze such traits, and certain high-tech countermeasures might be able to neutralize them. Magic: Talents that draw upon magical energy, or mana. You need not be a wizard yourself; this category includes such lasting sorcerous effects as personal enchantments. If your gifts do not function at all in areas without mana, and function at -5 to die rolls in low mana (like spells; see p. 235), then this is a limitation (see p. 110): Mana Sensitive, -10%.

Psionic: Advantages that originate from the power of the mind. In most settings where psi powers exist, there are drugs, gadgets, and specialized anti-psi powers that can detect and defeat them. As a result, they are bought with a special limitation; see Chapter 6. Spirit: Abilities enabled by invoking spirits. You only seem to be the focus of the effects; in reality, invisible supernatural beings are doing your bidding. Obviously, if the spirits cannot reach you, your abilities do not work.

TURNING ADVANTAGES OFF AND ON An advantage that never inconveniences you (e.g., Intuition), that has to be on at all times to be of benefit (e.g., Resistant), or that reflects a permanent trait of your species (e.g., Extra Arms) is always on. You cannot turn it off. Most other advantages are switchable: you can turn them off and on at will. To do so requires a one-second Ready maneuver, with activation or deactivation occurring as soon as you execute the maneuver. Unlike certain skills and magic spells, this does not require concentration; switching an advantage is second nature, and cannot be “interrupted.” The default condition (while sleeping, unconscious, etc.) is “on.” Attacks – notably Affliction (p. 35), Binding (p. 40), and Innate Attack (p. 61) – are only “on” while you are attacking. An advantage like this requires a one-second Attack maneuver to use; you cannot switch it on continuously without a special enhancement. Exceptions to these guidelines are noted explicitly.

ADVANTAGE LIST 360° Vision 3 1

Special Limitations 25 points

You have a 360° field of vision. You have no penalty to defend against attacks from the sides or rear. You can attack foes to your sides or rear without making a Wild Swing, but you are at -2 to hit due to the clumsy angle of attack (note that some Karate techniques do not suffer this penalty). Finally, you are at +5 to detect Shadowing attempts, and are never surprised by a danger that comes from behind, unless it also is concealed from sight. Extra eyes are merely a special effect of this trait – you can have any number of eyes, but the point cost remains the same.


Easy to Hit: Your eyes are on stalks, unusually large, or otherwise more vulnerable to attack. Others can target your eyes from within their arc of vision at only -6 to hit. -20%.

3D Spatial Sense see Absolute Direction, below

Absolute Direction 2/3

5 or 10 points

You have an excellent sense of direction. This ability comes in two levels: Absolute Direction: You always know which way is north, and you can always retrace a path you have followed within the past month, no matter how faint or confusing. This


ability does not work in environments such as interstellar space or the limbo of the astral plane, but it does work underground, underwater, and on other planets. This gives +3 to Body Sense and Navigation (Air, Land, or Sea). (Note: The navigational sense that guides migratory creatures to their destination is too crude to qualify; treat it as a 0-point feature.) 5 points. 3D Spatial Sense: As above, but works in three dimensions. This ability is useful in deep space – although it does not help you if you travel across dimensions. You get the skill bonuses given for Absolute Direction, plus +1 to Piloting and +2 to Aerobatics, Free Fall, and Navigation (Hyperspace or Space). 10 points.

Special Limitations Requires Signal: You rely on signals from a navigational satellite network (like Earth’s GPS) or similar system. Your ability does not function in the absence of such a system, and it can be jammed. -20%.

Absolute Timing 2

2 or 5 points

You have an accurate mental clock. This ability comes in two levels, both of which are somewhat cinematic: Absolute Timing: You always know what time it is, with a precision equal to the best personal timepieces widely available in your culture (but never better than a few seconds). You can measure elapsed time with equal accuracy. Neither changes of time zone nor sleep interferes with this ability, and you can wake up at a predetermined time if you choose. Being knocked unconscious, hypnotized, etc. may prevent this advantage from working, and time travel will confuse you until you find out what the “new” time is. 2 points. Chronolocation: As above, but time travel does not interfere – you always know what time it is in an absolute sense. Note that things like Daylight Savings Time and calendar reform can still confuse you! When you travel in time, the GM may tell you, “You have gone back exactly 92,876.3 days,” and let you – or your character – deal with questions like, “What about leap year?” 5 points.

Acute Senses 3

2 points/level

You have superior senses. Each Acute Sense is a separate advantage that gives +1 per level to all Sense rolls (p. 358) you make – or the GM makes for you – using that one sense. Acute Hearing gives you a bonus to hear something, or to notice a sound (for instance, someone taking the safety off a gun in the dark). 2 points/level. Acute Taste and Smell gives you a bonus to notice a taste or smell (for instance, poison in your drink). 2 points/level. Acute Touch gives you a bonus to detect something by touch (for instance, a concealed weapon when patting down a suspect). 2 points/level.

Acute Vision gives you a bonus to spot things visually, and whenever you do a visual search (for instance, looking for traps or footprints). 2 points/level. With the GM’s permission, you may also buy Acute Sense advantages for specialized senses such as Scanning Sense and Vibration Sense. You cannot usually buy Acute Senses in play – raise your Perception instead. However, if you lose a sense, the GM may allow you to spend earned points on other Acute Senses to compensate. For instance, if you are blinded, you might acquire Acute Hearing.

DR, add the Armor Divisor enhancement. The victim gets a further +3 if he is beyond 1/2D range. If the victim makes his HT roll, he is unaffected. If he fails, he suffers the effects of the Affliction. By default, he is stunned (see p. 420). He may roll vs. HT+1 once per second to recover, but once again at a penalty equal to the level of the Affliction (DR has no effect on this roll). If your Affliction causes an effect other than stunning, this is a special enhancement (see below). You can inflict more than one effect by giving your Affliction multiple special enhancements. These effects occur simultaneously, except where noted.

The GM determines which exotic and supernatural traits are allowed – and to whom – in his campaign.

Administrative Rank see Rank, p. 29

Affliction 3 1

10 points/level

You have an attack that causes a baneful, nondamaging effect: blindness, paralysis, weakness, etc. This might be an ultra-tech beam weapon, a chemical spray, a supernatural gaze attack, or almost anything else. Specify the details when you buy the advantage. By default, Affliction is a ranged attack with 1/2D 10, Max 100, Acc 3, RoF 1, Shots N/A, and Recoil 1, although you can apply modifiers to change these statistics (see pp. 101116). If you hit, your victim gets a HT+1 roll to resist. Apply a penalty equal to the level of the Affliction (so Affliction 1 gives an unmodified HT roll). The victim gets a bonus equal to his DR unless the Affliction has one of the following modifiers: Blood Agent, Contact Agent, Cosmic, Follow-Up, Malediction, Respiratory Agent or Sense-Based. To reduce the effects of


Successive Afflictions that produce the same effects are not normally cumulative. Use the single worst effect. Use the special enhancements below to create specific Afflictions. Many Attack Enhancements and Limitations (p. 102) are also logical. For instance, a blinding flash is SenseBased (p. 109); most drugs have Follow-Up (p. 105), Blood Agent (p. 102), or Contact Agent (p. 103); supernatural attacks like the “evil eye” use Malediction (p. 106); and touch attacks call for Melee Attack (p. 112). If an Affliction produces two or more effects due to the special enhancements below, some of these effects may be secondary. Secondary effects occur only if the victim fails his HT roll by 5 or more or rolls a critical failure. A secondary effect is worth 1/5 as much; e.g., Secondary Heart Attack is +60% rather than +300%. Once you have chosen all the modifiers on your Affliction, describe the nature of the attack as detailed for Innate Attack (p. 61).


Special Enhancements Advantage: The victim immediately experiences the effects of a specific physical or mental advantage. Advantages with instantaneous effects affect the target once, as soon as he is hit, if he fails his HT roll; e.g., Warp immediately teleports the subject. Advantages that can be switched on and off (such as Insubstantiality) are automatically “on” for one minute per point by which the victim fails his HT roll, and are not under the subject’s control. This is worth +10% per point the advantage is worth; e.g., Insubstantiality would be +800%! If the advantage comes in levels, specify the level. Attribute Penalty: The victim suffers temporary attribute loss. This is +5% per -1 to ST or HT, or +10% per -1 to DX or IQ. For instance, an attack that caused DX-3 and IQ-2 would be +50%. Lower all skills based on reduced attributes by a like amount. ST penalties also reduce BL and damage, while IQ reductions also apply to Will and Perception. Secondary characteristics are not otherwise affected; for instance, HT reduction does not affect Basic Speed or FP. Penalties last for one minute per point by which the victim fails his HT roll. Coma: The victim collapses, profoundly unconscious, and will likely die in days unless treated; see Mortal Conditions (p. 429). +250%. Cumulative: Repeated attacks are cumulative! You must take this in conjunction with Attribute Penalty, or with an Advantage, Disadvantage, or Negated Advantage Enhancement that inflicts a “leveled” trait. +400%. Disadvantage: The victim temporarily gains one or more specific physical or mental disadvantages (but not self-imposed mental disadvantages – see p. 121). This is worth +1% per point the temporary disadvantages are worth; e.g., Paranoia [-10] is worth +10%. If a disadvantage comes in levels, specify the level. The disadvantages last for one minute per point by which the victim fails his HT roll. Heart Attack: The victim suffers an incapacitating heart attack, and will die in minutes unless treated; see Mortal Conditions (p. 429). +300%.


Incapacitation: The victim is incapacitated for a number of minutes equal to the margin of failure on his HT roll. After that, he is stunned until he can make a HT roll (roll once per second). If you combine Incapacitation with other effects (such as Irritant), those effects occur after the Incapacitation wears off; they replace the stunning and last for the same length of time the Incapacitation did. Incapacitation can take the form of any of the following: Daze, +50%; Hallucinating, +50%; Retching, +50%; Agony, +100%; Choking, +100%; Ecstasy, +100%; Seizure, +100%; Paralysis, +150%; Sleep, +150%; or Unconsciousness, +200%. See Incapacitating Conditions (p. 428) for the game effects. Irritant: The victim suffers an impairing but non-incapacitating condition instead of being stunned. It lasts for a number of minutes equal to the margin of failure on his HT roll. The possibilities are Tipsy +10%; Coughing, +20%; Drunk, +20%; Moderate Pain, +20%; Euphoria, +30%; Nauseated, +30%; Severe Pain, +40%; or Terrible Pain, +60%. For definitions, see Irritating Conditions (p. 428). Negated Advantage: The victim loses a specific advantage for one minute per point by which he failed his HT roll. There is no effect if the

victim lacks that advantage! This enhancement is worth +1% per point the advantage is worth. If the advantage comes in levels, you must specify the level negated. Stunning: May only accompany Advantage, Attribute Penalty, Disadvantage, or Negated Advantage. If the victim fails to resist, he is stunned (per an unmodified Affliction) in addition to the effects of the other enhancement(s). +10%.

Allies 4


Many fictional heroes have partners – loyal comrades, faithful sidekicks, trusted retainers, or lifelong friends – who accompany them on adventures. These partners are “Allies.” The other PCs in your adventuring party are, in a sense, “allies.” But they can be unreliable allies indeed. Often they are chance acquaintances, first encountered at a roadside tavern only hours ago. They have their own hidden goals, ethics, and motives, which might not coincide with your own. An NPC Ally, on the other hand, is wholly reliable. Perhaps you fought side by side in a long war, trained under the same master, or grew up in the same village. The two of you trust each other implicitly. You travel

Frequency of Appearance Whether you pay points for a useful relationship with an NPC or collect points for a troublesome one, it is unlikely that the NPC will be a constant presence. Each friend or foe has a frequency of appearance, and will figure into a given adventure only if the GM rolls less than or equal to that number on 3d at the start of the adventure. How the NPC interacts with you if the roll succeeds depends on the nature of the relationship. Frequency of appearance multiplies the point cost for an Associated NPC (see p. 31) after determining power level and group size (as applicable), but before you apply any special modifiers: Constantly (no roll required): ¥4. The NPC is always present. This level is reserved for NPCs – usually Allies – that are implanted, worn like clothing, or supernaturally attached. Almost all the time (roll of 15 or less): ¥3. Quite often (roll of 12 or less): ¥2. Fairly often (roll of 9 or less): ¥1. Quite rarely (roll of 6 or less): ¥1/2 (round up).


together, fight back-to-back, share rations in hard times, and trade watches through the night. Your Ally is usually agreeable to your suggestions, but he is not your puppet. He will disagree with you from time to time. An Ally may try to dissuade you from a plan that seems foolish to him – and if he can’t talk you out of the plan, he may refuse to cooperate. An Ally may even cause problems for you: picking fights, landing in jail, insulting a high noble . . . Of course, the Ally will also try to bail you out when you make mistakes. The GM will not award you bonus character points for any play session in which you betray, attack, or unnecessarily endanger your Ally. Blatant, prolonged, or severe betrayal will break the trust between you and your Ally, and he will leave you permanently. If you drive your Ally off in this way, the points you spent on him are gone, reducing your point value. Leading your Ally into danger is all right, as long as you face the same danger and are a responsible leader. The point cost for an Ally depends on his power and frequency of appearance. Only PCs who take NPCs as Allies pay points for the privilege. Two PCs can be mutual “allies” for free, as can two NPCs – and NPCs never pay points for PCs as Allies. An Ally is specifically a skilled NPC associate for one PC.

Ally’s Power Consult the following table to determine how many points you must spend on your Ally. “Point Total” is the Ally’s point total expressed as a percentage of the PC’s starting points; “Cost” is the cost of the Ally. If the Ally’s point total falls between two percentages, use the higher. Point Total 25% 50% 75% 100% 150%

Cost 1 point 2 points 3 points 5 points 10 points

Allies built on more than 150% of the PC’s starting points are not allowed; treat such NPCs as Patrons (see p. 72). Exception: The progression above extends indefinitely for nonsentient (IQ 0) Allies; each +50% of the PC’s starting points costs a further +5 points.

Allies built on no more than 100% of the PC’s starting points may also be Dependents (see p. 131). Add the cost of Ally and Dependent together, and treat the combination as a single trait: an advantage if the total point cost is positive, a disadvantage if it is negative.

Allies, or even prohibit groups larger than a certain size – although he might permit an army or other large group as a Patron. Frequency of appearance multipliers and special modifiers (if any) apply to the final cost of the entire group.

Ally Groups

Frequency of Appearance

You may purchase as many Allies as you can afford. Each Ally is normally a separate advantage, but you can treat a group of related Allies as a single trait to save space on your character sheet. For a group of individuals – with their own unique abilities and character sheets – add the costs of the individual Allies to find the cost of the group, adjust the total cost for frequency of appearance, and then apply any special modifiers. For a group of more than five identical and interchangeable allies that share a single character sheet – for instance, an army of low-grade thugs or a swarm of robot drones – find the point cost to have one member of the group as an Ally, and then multiply that cost as follows to find the cost of the group:

Choose a frequency of appearance (see p. 36). If your Ally appears at the start of an adventure, he accompanies you for the duration of that adventure.

Size of Group 6-10 11-20 21-50 51-100

Multiplier ¥6 ¥8 ¥10 ¥12

Add ¥6 to the multiplier per tenfold increase in number (e.g., 100,000 Allies would be ¥30). The GM may require an Unusual Background (p. 96) if you wish to have hordes of


Allies in Play As with Dependents (p. 131), the GM will adjust your Ally’s abilities in order to keep his point total a fixed percentage of your own as you earn points. This will keep his value as an advantage constant. The GM decides how the Ally evolves, although he might ask you for your input. If your Ally dies through no fault of yours, the GM will not penalize you. You may put the points spent on the deceased Ally toward a new Ally. The new relationship should normally develop gradually, but the GM might allow an NPC to become an Ally on the spot if you have done something that would win him over (e.g., saving his life). This is especially appropriate in cultures where debts of honor are taken seriously! There is no penalty for amicably parting ways with your Ally. You may use the points spent on him to buy a new Ally met during play. At the GM’s discretion, you may trade in any remaining points for money (see p. 26), reflecting parting gifts.


Familiars Wizards, telepaths, and so on are often supernaturally linked to special Allies known as familiars. These are usually animals or spirits.

You can apply the following enhancements and limitations after calculating group cost (if applicable) and multiplying for frequency of appearance:

Your Ally is usually agreeable to your suggestions, but he is not your puppet. He will disagree with you from time to time.

Work out a familiar’s basic abilities with the GM, starting with the racial template of an ordinary creature of its kind. If its racial IQ is 5 or less, raise it to at least 6. Consider buying off Cannot Speak, if applicable. Most familiars have supernatural advantages: Extra Lives for a cat (it has nine lives, after all!), Mindlink and Telesend for a familiar that can transmit its thoughts, etc. Once you have determined the familiar’s abilities, work out its point total and its base value as an Ally. Select frequency of appearance as usual. This may be how often your familiar is available (on a failed appearance roll, it is sleeping, reporting to a demon lord, etc.) or how often its powers work (on a failure, it is no more capable than an ordinary member of its species, and cannot use or grant special powers) – your choice. This kind of Ally usually has one or more special modifiers. Minion, Summonable, and Sympathy are common. Unwilling is typical of demonic or otherwise evil familiars. Take Special Abilities only if your familiar grants you powers; e.g., extra Fatigue Points with which to fuel spells or exotic or supernatural advantages that emulate the familiar’s own abilities (such as Flight, for a bird). You have no access to these abilities on a failed appearance roll; if your familiar is stunned, unconscious, or dead; or in areas where your special link does not function (GM’s decision). Buy these abilities with a -40% Accessibility limitation: “Granted by familiar.”


Special Enhancements Minion: Your Ally continues to serve you regardless of how well you treat him. This might be due to programming, fear, awe, or lack of selfawareness. Examples include robots, zombies, and magical slaves. You are free of the usual obligation to treat your Ally well. Mistreatment might result in an inconvenient breakdown (mental or physical), but the Ally will not leave. See Puppet (p. 78) for additional options. +0% if the Minion has IQ 0 or Slave Mentality (p. 154), as the benefits of total loyalty are offset by the need for close supervision; +50% otherwise. Special Abilities: Your Ally wields power out of proportion to his point value. Perhaps he has extensive political clout or access to equipment from a TL higher than your own; perhaps he grants you exotic powers. Don’t apply this enhancement simply because your Ally has exotic abilities. If his powers are very uncommon, you will already be paying extra: your Ally requires an Unusual Background, which raises his point total and his value as an Ally. +50%. Summonable: You conjure your Ally instead of rolling to see whether he appears at the start of an adventure. To do so, take a Concentrate maneuver and roll against frequency of appearance. On a success, your Ally appears nearby. On a failure, you cannot attempt to summon him again for one full day. Dismissing your Ally is a free action, but you may only dismiss him if he is physically present. +100%.


Special Limitations Sympathy: If you are stunned, knocked out, mind-controlled, etc., your Ally is similarly affected. The reverse is also true, so you should take special care of your Ally! -25% if the death of one party reduces the other to 0 HP; -50% if the death of one party automatically kills the other. If your wounds affect your Ally, but your Ally’s wounds don’t affect you, reduce these values to -5% and -10%. Unwilling: You have obtained your Ally through coercion (e.g., blackmail or magical binding). You do not have to treat him as well as you would a normal Ally. However, he hates you and is likely to act accordingly, reducing his overall reliability level. If you endanger such an Ally or order him to do something unpleasant, he may rebel (GM’s option) if the consequences of doing so would be less severe than those of doing your bidding. An Ally who rebels is gone, along with the points you spent on him. -50%.

Altered Time Rate 2 1

100 points/level

Your rate of time perception is faster than that of a normal human. The first level of this advantage lets you experience time twice as fast as a normal – that is, you experience two subjective seconds for each real second that passes. Each level past the first increases this ratio by one: three times as fast at level 2, four times as fast at level 3, and so on. Each level of Altered Time Rate lets you take one additional maneuver on your turn in combat, allowing you to cast spells quickly by taking multiple Concentrate maneuvers, run very fast by taking multiple Move maneuvers, etc. Your turn doesn’t come any sooner, however! This advantage affects how fast you move when you react, but not how quickly you react in the first place. Out of combat, Altered Time Rate allows you the luxury of extensive planning, even in crisis situations, as everything seems to happen in slow motion. You may always attempt a Sense roll, or an IQ-based skill roll to make plans or recall information (GM’s decision), at no penalty to additional actions.

In order to do anything that depends on someone else’s reactions, you must deliberately “slow down” and function at his speed. This applies both when making a Feint in combat and when making an Influence roll (see p. 359) out of combat. For instance, if you choose to Feint, that is all you can do on your turn – you cannot take extra actions. (On the other hand, you could make an All-Out Attack followed by an Attack in order to beat down his defenses through sheer blinding speed!)

Alternate Identity 4

5 or 15 points per identity

You have multiple, seemingly legal identities. Each time you purchase this trait, your fingerprints (or other biometrics used to verify identity in your world) are registered under another name, and you have an extra set of identity documents (birth certificate, licenses, passport, etc.) good enough to pass close inspection. These identities may also have valid credit cards and bank accounts, but you must supply the money – additional wealth is not included in the package! If an intelligence or law-enforcement agency attempts to identify you with no clue as to your name – for instance, using biometrics or photoanalysis – there is an equal chance for each of your identities to come up. The search will stop . . . unless they have reason to believe you are a ringer. If the search continues, your other identities will eventually surface, and you will be unmasked. Once a government agency determines who you really are, your Alternate Identities are lost for good. There are two types of Alternate Identity: Legal: Some spies and undercover policemen – and even supers, in settings where they are backed by the government – may have a legal Alternate Identity. This requires at least 10 points in Legal Enforcement Powers, Legal Immunity, Police Rank, Security Clearance, etc.; the GM sets the precise prerequisites. If a super has official permission to conceal his original name (e.g., to protect his family) and to hold property in his “super” name, then that is a legal Alternate

Identity combined with a Secret Identity (see p. 153). 5 points. Illegal: A criminal or foreign agent may have an illegal Alternate Identity. This has the advantage of being completely unknown when you first start out, and of course it cannot be revoked by the government. On the other hand, should it ever be discovered, you will face a stiff fine, a jail sentence, or execution, depending on the time and place. 15 points.


Ambidexterity 3

5 points

You can fight or otherwise act equally well with either hand, and never suffer the -4 DX penalty for using the “off” hand (see p. 14). Note that this does not allow you to take extra actions in combat – that’s Extra Attack (p. 53). Should some accident befall one of your arms or hands, assume it is the left one.


Amphibious 3 1

10 points

You are well-adapted to movement in the water. You do not suffer skill penalties for working underwater, and you can swim at your full Basic Move. You still require air (but see Doesn’t Breathe, p. 49). Typical features include smooth, seal-like skin and webbed fingers and toes. If you can move only in the water, take the Aquatic disadvantage (p. 145) instead.

Animal Empathy 2

5 points

You are unusually talented at reading the motivations of animals. When you meet an animal, the GM rolls against your IQ and tells you what you “feel.” This reveals the beast’s emotional state – friendly, frightened, hostile, hungry, etc. – and whether it is under supernatural control. You may also use your Influence skills (see p. 359) on animals just as you would on sapient beings, which usually ensures a positive reaction. This ability frequently accompanies some level of Animal Friend (see Talent, p. 89), and often Sense of Duty (Animals) or Vow (Vegetarianism).

Animal Friend see Talent, p. 89

Appearance see Appearance Levels, p. 21 Above-average appearance is treated as an advantage.

Arm DX 3 1

12 or 16 points per +1 DX

Some of your arms have extra DX relative to the DX of your body. This DX applies only to things done with those arms or hands. It does not affect Basic Speed! If a task requires two or more hands, and they don’t have the same DX, use the lowest DX. Combat skills rely on bodily DX, and do not benefit from this DX at all. Arm DX costs 12 points per +1 DX for one arm and 16 points per +1 DX for two arms. To raise the DX of three or more arms, buy up overall DX. If you bought your DX with the No Fine Manipulators limitation, apply this limitation to Arm DX as well.


Arm ST 3 1

3, 5, or 8 points per +1 ST

Some of your arms have extra ST relative to the ST of your body. This ST applies only to efforts to lift, throw, or attack with those arms or hands. It does not affect HP or overall Basic Lift! If a task requires multiple hands, and they don’t have the same ST, use the average ST. Arm ST costs 3 points per +1 ST for one arm, 5 points per +1 ST for two arms, and 8 points per +1 ST for three arms. To raise the ST of four or more arms, buy up overall ST. If you bought your ST with the No Fine Manipulators or Size limitations, apply the same limitation(s) to Arm ST.

Artificer see Talent, p. 89

Binding 3 1

2 points/level

You have an attack that can hold your target in place. Specify how this works when you buy the advantage: entangling your victim in vines, tying him up with webs, freezing him inside a block of ice, turning the ground to quicksand beneath his feet, etc. Binding is a ranged attack with 1/2D –, Max 100, Acc 3, RoF 1, Shots N/A, and Recoil 1. You can add modifiers to change these statistics (see pp. 101-116). On a hit, your victim is grappled (see p. 370) and rooted in place. He cannot select the Move or Change Posture maneuvers or change facing, and is at -4 to DX. The ST of this effect is equal to your Binding level, but you can layer additional attacks on a successfully bound victim. Each extra layer gives +1 to ST. To break free, the victim must win a Quick Contest of ST or Escape skill against the ST of your Binding. Each attempt takes one second. If the victim fails to break free, he loses 1 FP but may try again. Alternatively, he may try to destroy the Binding. Innate Attacks hit automatically; other attacks are at -4. External attacks on the Binding take no penalty, but risk hitting the victim on a miss (see Striking Into a Close Combat, p. 392). The Binding has DR equal to 1/3 your level (rounded down). Each point of


damage reduces ST by one. At ST 0, the Binding is destroyed and the victim is freed. To simulate vines, webs, and so forth, add one or more of Area Effect (p. 102), Persistent (p. 107), and Wall (p. 109) – and possibly some of the special modifiers below.

Special Enhancements Engulfing: Your attack pins the target. He cannot move his limbs or speak; his only options are to use purely mental abilities, to attack the Binding with an Innate Attack, or to try to break free using ST (not Escape skill). If he tries to break free and fails, he is only allowed a repeated attempt every 10 seconds – and on a 17 or 18, he becomes so entangled that he cannot escape on his own! +60%. Only Damaged By X: Only specific damage types can damage your Binding. +30% for one of burning, corrosion, crushing, or cutting; +20% for any two; +10% for any three. Sticky: Your Binding is treated as Persistent (p. 107), but only affects those who actually touch the original target of your attack. +20%. Unbreakable: Your Binding cannot be destroyed. The only way to escape is to break free. +40%.

Special Limitations Environmental: Your Binding manipulates an existing condition or object in the environment, and won’t work in its absence. This is worth from -20% (victim must be touching the ground) to -40% (victim must be standing in dense vegetation), at the GM’s option. One-Shot: You cannot layer your Binding to increase its ST. -10%.

Blessed 2 5

10 or more points

You are attuned to a god, demon lord, great spirit, cosmic power, etc. This can take various forms, but in all cases, you will lose this advantage if you fail to act in accordance with your deity’s rules and values. Blessed: You sometimes receive wisdom from your deity. After communing with your god (meditating, praying, etc.) for at least one hour, you see visions or witness omens that have some bearing on future events. Work out the details with your GM; for

instance, the God of Fire might require you to stare into flames for an hour, after which you hear a voice in the flames. The GM rolls secretly against your IQ to determine whether you gain any useful insight from this experience. The ritual is fatiguing, however; at the end of the hour, you lose 10 FP. As a side benefit, followers of your deity sense your special status and react to you at +1. 10 points. Very Blessed: As above, but your IQ roll to interpret visions is at +5 and the reaction bonus from your god’s followers is +2. 20 points. Heroic Feats: Your blessing gives you the ability to perform a particular heroic feat. Once per game session, you may add 1d to one of ST, DX, or HT (other traits, such as Basic Move, are at the GM’s discretion). You must specify which trait is boosted when you buy the advantage. This bonus lasts 3d seconds, after which your abilities revert to normal and you suffer any penalties amassed during the “heroic” period. (For instance, if your blessing boosts HP and you are reduced to -5 ¥ your normal HP but not -5 ¥ your “blessed” HP, you will die when the bonus HP wear off unless you receive some sort of healing.) 10 points. The GM may choose to allow other blessings as well.

Brachiator 3 1

5 points

You can travel by swinging on vines, tree branches, ropes, chandeliers, etc. You get +2 to Climbing skill, and can move at half your Basic Move while brachiating.

Breath-Holding 3 1

2 points/level

You are adept at holding your breath. Each level doubles the length of time you can do so (see Holding Your Breath, p. 351). Normal humans may not take this advantage – to be a world-record diver, learn Breath Control (p. 182). Nonhumans and supers can combine this advantage with Breath Control!

Business Acumen see Talent, p. 89

Catfall 3 1

10 points

You subtract five yards from a fall automatically (treat this as an automatic Acrobatics success – don’t check again for it). In addition, a successful DX roll halves damage from any fall. To enjoy these benefits, your limbs must be unbound and your body free to twist as you fall.

Chameleon 3 1

5 points/level

You can change your surface pattern to blend into your surroundings. In any situation where being seen is a factor, you get +2 per level to Stealth skill when perfectly still, or +1 per level if moving. Clothing reduces this bonus to +1 per level when you are motionless, with no bonus if you are moving (unless the clothing is, in the GM’s opinion, camouflaged relative to your current environment). Chameleon does not normally help in the dark or against someone relying upon senses other than sight. However, you can specify that your ability is effective against a particular visual or scanning sense (e.g., Infravision or Radar) instead of normal vision.

Special Enhancements Extended: Your ability affects more than one visual or scanning sense. Each sense beyond the first is +20%.

Special Limitations Always On: You cannot turn this ability off. Strangers react at -1; the flickering effect is irritating. -10%.

Channeling 2 5

10 points

You can become a conduit for the spirit world, allowing spirits to speak through you. To do so, you must enter a trance, achieved through one minute of concentration and a Will roll (at +2 if you have Autotrance, p. 101). You are unaware of the world around you while you are in this state. Once you have entered your trance, any spirit in the immediate vicinity can enter your body and use it to speak or write messages. The GM controls what the spirit does or says. The spirit answers questions put to it by others, but it is not bound to tell the truth.


This is a minor form of possession: the spirit can use your body only to communicate. However, if it has the Possession ability (p. 75), it is considered to be touching you, and can attempt full possession while you are in a trance. You are considered “wary,” and thus get +5 to resist.

Charisma 2

5 points/level

You have a natural ability to impress and lead others. Anyone can acquire a semblance of charisma through looks, manners, and intelligence – but real charisma is independent of these things. Each level gives +1 on all reaction rolls made by sapient beings with whom you actively interact (converse, lecture, etc.); +1 to Influence rolls (see Influence Rolls, p. 359); and +1 to Fortune-Telling, Leadership, Panhandling, and Public Speaking skills. The GM may rule that your Charisma does not affect members of extremely alien races.

Chronolocation see Absolute Timing, p. 35

Claim to Hospitality 4

1 to 10 points

You belong to a social group that encourages its members to assist one another. When you are away from home, you may call on other members of this group for food, shelter, and basic aid. The point cost depends on the extent and wealth of the group. A single friend with a house in another city is worth 1 point; a small family, 2 points; a society of merchants along an important trade route, 5 points; and a vast alliance of wealthy figures, such as “every merchant in the world,” 10 points. In the appropriate situation, members of the group should be easy to find (14 or less after 1d-1 hours of searching), but the chance of meeting one at random is small (6 or less to meet one in a small crowd in an appropriate place). Claim to Hospitality mainly saves the cost and trouble of finding lodging while “on the road” (although if you are wealthy, you might be expected to give gifts to your hosts), but there are side benefits. Members of the group are friendly to each other


(+3 reactions), and may provide advice, introductions, and small loans, if asked. The level of assistance might occasionally approach that of Contacts (p. 44). If you expect anything more, though, buy Allies (p. 36) or Patrons (p. 72). This advantage cuts both ways. If you take it, you can be asked, when at home (at the GM’s whim), to provide NPCs with exactly the same sort of hospitality you claim while away. This may become an adventure hook! If you refuse such aid, you will eventually get a bad name and lose this advantage.

Clairsentience 2 5

50 points

However, a viewpoint inside a moving object (e.g., a car) will move with that object with no special concentration on your part. You can only have one viewpoint at a time – you cannot put hearing in one location, vision in another, etc.

Special Limitations Clairaudience: Only your sense of hearing is displaced. -30%. Clairosmia: Only your sense of smell is displaced. -60%. Clairvoyance: Only your sense of sight is displaced. -10%. ESP: Your ability is part of the ESP psi power (see p. 255). -10%. Visible: Your senses have a visible manifestation – for instance, a floating face. -10%.

You can displace all of your ranged senses (for humans: sight, hearing, and smell) to a point outside your body. This “viewpoint” must be a specific location within 10 yards. You can modify this range with Increased Range (p. 106) or Reduced Range (p. 115). You can double your range temporarily by spending 2 FP per minute. To initiate Clairsentience, pick the desired viewpoint (which can be inside something) and its facing, concentrate for one minute, and then make an IQ roll. If the viewpoint is out of sight, you must specify distance and direction, and the roll is at -5. On a success, you can use your ranged senses as if you were physically present at the viewpoint (this means you cannot sense the environment around your body!). Your vision ignores darkness penalties completely. You cannot see through solid objects, but if your viewpoint were inside (for example) a closed chest, you would see what was inside despite the lack of light. If you are using or subjected to range-dependent abilities (e.g., spells), calculate all ranges from your body, not your viewpoint. You can maintain Clairsentience for as long as you like. On failure by 1, your senses go to some other viewpoint of the GM’s choosing. On any greater failure, nothing happens at all. Critical failure cripples your ability for 1d hours. To return your displaced senses, move them elsewhere, or change their facing (usually only important for vision), you must concentrate for one second and make another IQ roll.



Claws 3 1


You have claws. This advantage modifies all your hands and feet; there is no discount for claws on only some of your limbs. There are several variations: Blunt Claws: Very short claws, like those of a dog. Add +1 per die to the damage you inflict with a punch or kick; e.g., 2d-3 becomes 2d-1. 3 points. Hooves: Hard hooves, like those of a horse. Add +1 per die to the damage you inflict with a kick, and give your feet (only) +1 DR. 3 points. Sharp Claws: Short claws, like those of a cat. Change the damage you inflict with a punch or kick from crushing to cutting. 5 points.

Talons: Longer claws – up to 12” long. Change the damage you inflict with a punch or kick from crushing to your choice of cutting or impaling (choose before you roll to hit). 8 points. Long Talons: Huge claws, like sword blades extending from your body! Treat these as Talons, but damage is +1 per die. 11 points.

Clerical Investment 4

5 points

You are an ordained priest of a recognized religion. You enjoy a number of privileges that a layman lacks, notably the authority to preside over weddings, funerals, and similar ceremonies. This gives you a +1 reaction bonus from co-religionists and those who respect your faith, and entitles you to use a title – Father, Sister, Rabbi, etc. Remember that not all clerics are “good”! Aka’Ar, high priest of the unholy Cult of Set, is also a vested priest. The blessings and marriages he performs are as meaningful to his followers as those of a vicar are to his parish. And – if Set so wills – Aka’Ar can perform exorcisms as potent as those of a Christian priest, if not more so. After all, Aka’Ar has a better working knowledge of demons . . . Clerical Investment is purely social in nature. It does not confer miraculous powers. If you wish to wield divine power by proxy, take Blessed (p. 40), Power Investiture (p. 77), or True Faith (p. 94). Clerical Investment includes Religious Rank 0 (see p. 30). If you want more influence within your church, buy up your Rank.

Clinging 3 1

20 points

You can walk or crawl on walls and ceilings. You can stop at any point and stick to the surface without fear of falling. Neither feat requires a roll against Climbing skill, provided the surface is one you can cling to. Move while clinging is half your Basic Move. If you are falling and try to grab a vertical surface to break your fall, the GM must first decide whether there is anything in reach. If there is, make a DX roll to touch the surface, and then make a ST roll at -1 per 5 yards already fallen. If you succeed, you stop your fall. Otherwise, you continue to fall – but you may subtract 5 yards

from the height of the fall thanks to the slowing effect of the failed Clinging attempt. Variations in gravity affect these distances; e.g., in 0.5G, the ST roll would be at -1 per 10 yards.

Special Limitations Specific: You can only cling to a particular substance. Common materials, such as brick, metal, rock, or wood, are -40%; uncommon materials, such as adobe, ice, or rubber, are -60%; absurd materials, such as chocolate, are -80%.

Combat Reflexes 2

15 points

You have extraordinary reactions, and are rarely surprised for more than a moment. You get +1 to all active defense rolls (see Defending, p. 374), +1 to Fast-Draw skill, and +2 to Fright Checks (see Fright Checks, p. 360). You never “freeze” in a surprise situation, and get +6 on all IQ rolls to wake up, or to recover from surprise or mental “stun.” Your side gets +1 on initiative rolls to avoid a surprise attack – +2 if you are the leader. For details, see Surprise Attacks and Initiative (p. 393). Combat Reflexes is included in Enhanced Time Sense (p. 52). If you have ETS, you cannot also take Combat Reflexes.

Common Sense 2

10 points

Any time you start to do something the GM feels is STUPID, he will roll against your IQ. A successful roll means he must warn you: “Hadn’t you better think about that?” This advantage lets an impulsive player take the part of a thoughtful character.

Compartmentalized Mind 2 1

50 points/level

Your mental coordination gives you, in effect, more than one mind. Each mind – or “compartment” – functions independently and at full capability. Your compartments are identical, but hypnotism, magic, psionics, and the like affect them separately (e.g., one compartment could be hypnotized without affecting any of the others). This advantage does not allow your body to perform more than one task. A normal character may select one maneuver on his turn in combat. This


may be physical or mental. Each level of Compartmentalized Mind adds one extra mental maneuver to this allotment. For instance, Compartmentalized Mind 1 would let you perform one mental maneuver and one physical maneuver (e.g., Concentrate on a spell and Attack) or two mental maneuvers (e.g., Concentrate on two spells), but never more than one physical maneuver – for that, see Extra Attack (p. 53). If one compartment is under external influence, roll a Quick Contest of Will to see whether it gains control of the body. The compartment currently in control of the body rolls at +1. Battling compartments may attempt to use mental powers on each other. Treat them as completely separate minds for this purpose, each with your IQ, Will, and mental abilities (such as Mind Shield). Two variations on this advantage are available for vehicles built as characters: Controls: Each level buys one set of controls. Controls let an operator perform his own physical or mental maneuvers using your abilities (e.g., Innate Attack or Radar), as per the rules for vehicular combat (see p. 467). The operator directs all actions of an IQ 0 vehicle with this advantage. Physical limits still apply; for instance, a vehicle can make no more attacks than it has ready weapons. Resolve conflicts between operators by rolling a Quick Contest of vehicle operation skill. 25 points/level. Dedicated Controls: As Controls, but each set of controls handles a specific task; e.g., “tail gunner.” The person manning them can’t operate anything else. 10 points/level.

Constriction Attack 3 1

15 points

Your musculature is optimized for crushing your opponents – whether by “hugging” like a bear or constricting like a python. To use this ability, you must first successfully grapple your intended victim, whose Size Modifier (p. 19) cannot exceed your own. On your next turn, and each successive turn, roll a Quick Contest: your ST vs. your victim’s ST or HT, whichever is higher. If you win, your victim takes damage equal to your margin of victory; otherwise, he takes no damage.


Contact Group 4


You have a network of Contacts (see Contacts, below) placed throughout a particular organization or social stratum. You must specify a corporation, criminal syndicate, military unit, police department, or similar organization, or the underworld, merchants, upper class, etc. of one particular town. Broader Contact Groups are not allowed. You may request information from a Contact Group exactly as you would an individual Contact, using the same rules for frequency of appearance, effective skill, and reliability. The difference is that a Contact Group’s effective skill reflects ability at an entire category of skills – e.g., “business skills” if your Contact Group is a corporation, or “military skills” if your Contact Group is a military unit – as opposed to one specific skill. You must define this area of knowledge when you purchase the Contact Group, and it must be appropriate to the organization. The GM rolls against the group’s effective skill when you request any information that it could reasonably provide. However, this is an abstract success roll, not a roll against a specific skill. For instance, a police Contact Group could provide ballistics comparisons, criminal profiles, legal advice, police records, and introductions to criminals. It would not specifically use Forensics, Criminology, Law, Administration, or Streetwise skills for this, but the information provided might be appropriate to any of these “police skills.” To determine the point cost of a Contact Group, select its effective skill, frequency of appearance, and reliability level just as you would for a simple Contact, then multiply the resulting cost by 5.

Contacts 4


You have an associate who provides you with useful information, or who does small (pick any two of “quick,” “nonhazardous,” and “inexpensive”) favors for you. The point value of a Contact is based on the skill he uses to assist you, the frequency with which he provides information or favors, and his reliability as a person.


Effective Skill of Contact First, decide on the type of Contact you have. He might be anything from a wino in the right gutter to a head of state, depending on your background. What is important is that he has access to information, knows you, and is likely to react favorably. (Of course, offering cash or favors is never a bad idea; the GM will set the Contact’s “price.”) Next, choose the useful skill your Contact provides. This skill must match the Contact’s background; e.g., Finance for a banker or Forensics for a lab technician. Since the GM rolls against this skill when you request aid from your Contact, you should select a skill that can provide the results you expect. If you want ballistics comparisons, take a Contact with Forensics, not Finance! After that, select an effective skill level. This reflects the Contact’s connections, other skills, Status, etc. It need not be his actual skill level (the GM will set this, if it matters). For instance, the president of a local steel mill might have business-related skills of 12-14, but his effective skill might be 18 because of his position in the company. This skill level determines the Contact’s base cost: Effective Skill 12 15 18 21

Base Cost 1 point 2 points 3 points 4 points

Add 1 point to these costs for Contacts who can obtain information using supernatural talents (ESP, magical divination, etc.). This is common for spirits, wizards, etc.

Frequency of Appearance Select a frequency of appearance, as explained under Frequency of Appearance (p. 36), and apply its multiplier to the base cost of the Contact. When you wish to reach your Contact, the GM rolls against his frequency of appearance. On a failure, the Contact is busy or cannot be located that day. On a 17 or 18, the Contact cannot be reached for the entire adventure! On a success, the GM will roll against the Contact’s effective skill once per piece of information or minor favor you request.


No Contact may be reached more than once per day, even if several PCs share the same Contact. If you have several questions to ask, you should have them all in mind when you first reach your Contact. The Contact answers the first question at his full effective skill. Each subsequent question is at a cumulative -2. Don’t overuse your Contacts! A Contact can never supply information outside his area of knowledge. Use common sense. Likewise, the GM must not allow a Contact to give information that short-circuits an important part of the adventure. You must explain how you normally get in touch with your Contact. Regardless of frequency of appearance, you cannot reach your Contact if those channels are closed.

Reliability Contacts are not guaranteed to be truthful. Reliability multiplies the Contact’s point cost as follows: Completely Reliable: Even on a critical failure on his effective skill roll, the Contact’s worst response will be “I don’t know.” On an ordinary failure, he can find information in 1d days. ¥3. Usually Reliable: On a critical failure, the Contact lies. On any other failure, he doesn’t know now, “. . . but check back in (1d) days.” Roll again at that time; a failure then means he can’t find out at all. ¥2. Somewhat Reliable: On a failure, the Contact doesn’t know and can’t find out. On a critical failure, he lies – and on a natural 18, he lets the opposition or authorities (as appropriate) know who is asking questions. ¥1. Unreliable: Reduce effective skill by 2. On any failure, he lies; on a critical failure, he notifies the enemy. ¥1/2 (round up; minimum final cost is 1 point).

Money Talks Bribery, whether cash or favors, motivates a Contact and increases his reliability level. Once reliability reaches “usually reliable,” further levels of increase go to effective skill; bribery cannot make anyone completely reliable! A cash bribe should be about equivalent to one day’s income for a +1 bonus, one week’s income for +2, one month’s for +3, and one year’s

for +4. Favors should be of equivalent worth, and should always be something that you actually play out in the game. The bribe must also be appropriate to the Contact. A diplomat would be insulted by a cash bribe, but might welcome an introduction into the right social circle. A criminal might ask for cash but settle for favors that could get you in trouble. A police detective or wealthy executive might simply want you to “owe him one” for later . . . which could set off a whole new adventure, somewhere down the road.

Contacts in Play You may add new Contacts in play, provided you can come up with a good in-game justification. The GM might even turn an existing NPC into a Contact for one or more PCs – possibly in lieu of character points for the adventure in which the PCs developed the NPC as a Contact. For instance, the reward for an adventure in which the party helped solve a bank robbery might be a knowledgeable, reliable police Contact.

Examples of Contacts The list of all possible Contacts – and their skills – would fill an entire book.


Here are just a few examples: Business. Business owners, executives, secretaries, and even the mailroom flunky can supply information on business dealings. They generally provide a business skill, such as Accounting, Administration, or Finance. A mail boy or typist might have effective skill 12; the president’s secretary has skill 15; a senior executive or accountant has skill 18; and the CEO, president, or chairman of the board has skill 21. Military. This could be anyone from an enlisted grunt to a general. Such Contacts might provide information on troop movements, details on secret weapons or tactics, or top-level strategy. This could take the form of SavoirFaire (Military), Strategy, or Tactics skill – or perhaps a technical skill, such as Engineer. A Rank 0 soldier would have effective skill 12, a Rank 12 NCO would have skill 15, a Rank 35 officer would have skill 18, and a Rank 6 or higher officer would have skill 21. Police. Anyone connected with law enforcement and criminal investigations: beat cops, corporate security, government agents, forensics specialists, coroners, etc. Typical skills are Criminology, Forensics, Intelligence Analysis, and Law. Beat cops and regular private security officers have effective skill 12; detectives, federal agents, and records clerks are skill 15; administrators (lieutenants, captains, Special Agents in Charge, etc.) are skill 18; and senior officers (sheriffs, chiefs of police, District Superintendents, Security Chiefs, etc.) are skill 21. Street. Thugs, fences, gang members, mobsters, and the like can provide information on illicit activities, local criminal gossip, upcoming crimes, etc. Most provide Streetwise skill. “Unconnected” crooks (those who are not part of the local criminal organization) have effective skill 12; “connected” ones are skill 15; mob lieutenants and other powerful criminals are skill 18; and an actual crime lord (e.g., the Don, clan chief, or Master of the Thieves’ Guild) has skill 21.


Courtesy Rank see Rank, p. 29

Cultural Adaptability 2

10 or 20 points

You are familiar with a broad spectrum of cultures. When dealing with those cultures, you never suffer the -3 “cultural unfamiliarity” penalty given under Culture (p. 23). This is definitely a cinematic ability! Point cost depends on the scope of your familiarity: Cultural Adaptability: You are familiar with all cultures of your race. 10 points. Xeno-Adaptability: You are familiar with all cultures in your game world, regardless of race. 20 points.

Cultural Familiarity see p. 23

Cybernetics 3


Treat most cybernetic implants as equivalent advantages: Infravision for

a bionic eye, Damage Resistance for dermal armor, etc. Some implants may qualify for the Temporary Disadvantage limitation (p. 115); suitable temporary disadvantages include Electrical (p. 134) and Maintenance (p. 143). These apply to the implant, not to your overall capabilities.

Damage Resistance 3 1

5 points/level

Your body itself has a Damage Resistance score. Subtract this from the damage done by any physical or energy attack after the DR of artificial armor (you can normally wear armor over natural DR) but before multiplying the injury for damage type. By default, natural DR does not protect your eyes (or windows, if you are a vehicle) or help against purely mental attacks, such as telepathy. Normal humans cannot purchase DR at all. Creatures with natural armor can buy DR 1 to 5. Thick skin or a pelt would be DR 1; pig hide, armadillo shell, a heavy pelt, or scales like those of a lizard would be DR 2;

rhinoceros hide or a pangolin’s armor plates would be DR 3; alligator scales or elephant hide would be DR 4; and a giant tortoise would have DR 5. Robots, supers, supernatural entities, etc. can purchase any amount of DR, subject to GM approval. Many special modifiers are available to change the basic assumptions of this advantage.

Special Enhancements Absorption: You can absorb damage and use it to enhance your abilities. Each point of DR stops one point of damage and turns it into one character point that you can use to improve traits (anything but skills) temporarily. You store these points in a “battery” with capacity equal to DR (e.g., DR 10 gives a 10-point battery). Once this battery is full, each point of DR will still stop one point of damage, but will not convert it into a character point. You do not have to use stored points immediately, but you cannot reallocate points once used. You lose absorbed points – unused ones first – at the rate of one

Limited Defenses When you buy Damage Resistance – or any advantage that protects against damage (as opposed to nondamaging effects) – you may specify that it is only effective against certain damage types. This is a limitation that reduces the cost of the advantage. Attacks fall into four rarity classes for this purpose: Very Common: An extremely broad category of damage that you are likely to encounter in almost any setting. Examples: ranged attacks, melee attacks, physical attacks (from any material substance), energy attacks (e.g., beam weapons, electricity, fire, heat and cold, and sound), or all damage with a specified advantage origin (chi, magic, psionics, etc.). -20%. Common: A broad category of damage. Examples: a standard damage type (one of burning, corrosion, crushing, cutting, impaling, piercing, or toxic), a commonly encountered class of substances (e.g., metal, stone, water, wood, or flesh), a threat encountered in nature and produced by exotic powers or technology (e.g., acid, cold, electricity, or heat/fire), or a refinement of a “Very Common” category (e.g., magical energy). -40%.


Occasional: A fairly specific category of damage. Examples: a common substance (e.g., steel or lead), any one specific class of damage that is usually produced only by exotic abilities or technology (e.g., particle beams, lasers, disintegrators, or shaped charges), or a refinement of a “Common” category (e.g., magical electricity, piercing metal). -60%. Rare: An extremely narrow category of damage. Examples: charged particle beams, dragon’s fire, piercing lead, ultraviolet lasers, or an uncommon substance (e.g., silver or blessed weapons). -80%. Unless specified otherwise, limited DR works only against direct effects. If you are levitated using magic and then dropped, the damage is from the fall; “DR vs. magic” would not protect. If a magic sword struck you, “DR vs. magic” would only protect against the magical component of its damage. Similarly, “DR vs. trolls” would not help against a boulder hurled by a troll – the damage is from a boulder, not a troll. Be sure to work out such details with the GM before setting the value of the limitation. If the GM feels that a quality would never directly influence damage, he need not allow it as a limitation!


point per second. You lose enhanced abilities as the points drain away. (Exception: If you are missing HP or FP, you can heal yourself. Restoring one HP drains 2 stored points immediately; restoring one FP drains 3 points. Such healing is permanent. Only HP or FP in excess of your usual scores drain away.) You cannot absorb damage from your own ST or attack abilities. +80% if absorbed points can only enhance one trait (determined when you create your character) or can only heal; +100% if you can raise any trait. Force Field: Your DR takes the form of a field projected a short distance from your body. This protects your entire body – including your eyes – as well as anything you are carrying, and reduces the damage from attacks before armor DR. Effects that rely on touch (such as many magic spells) only affect you if carried by an attack that does enough damage to pierce your DR. +20%. Hardened: Each level of Hardened reduces the armor divisor of an attack by one step. These steps are, in order: “ignores DR,” 100, 10, 5, 3, 2, and 1 (no divisor). +20% per level. Reflection: Your DR “bounces back” any damage it stops at your attacker. The remaining damage affects you normally. The attacker doesn’t get an active defense against the first attack you reflect back at him, but gets his usual defenses against subsequent reflected attacks. Reflection only works vs. direct hits! It cannot reflect damage from explosions, fragments, poison gas, or anything else that affects an entire area. This enhancement is mutually exclusive with Absorption. +100%.

Special Limitations Ablative: Your DR stops damage once. Each point of DR stops one point of basic damage but is destroyed in the process. Lost DR “heals” at the same rate as lost HP (including the effects of Regeneration, p. 80). Use this to represent supers who can absorb massive punishment but who lack the mass to justify a large HP score. -80%. Can’t Wear Armor: Your body is designed in such a way that you

modifiers. You must specify the order of the layers – from outermost to innermost – when you create your character. You may not change this order once set.

cannot or will not wear body armor or clothing. -40%. Directional: Your DR only protects against attacks from one direction. -20% for the front (F); -40% for the back (B), right (R), left (L), top (T), or underside (U). Humanoids may only take this limitation for front and back. Flexible: Your DR is not rigid. This leaves you vulnerable to blunt trauma (see p. 379). -20%. Limited: Your DR applies only to certain attack forms or damage types. See Limited Defenses (box) for details. Partial: Your DR only protects a specific hit location. This is worth -10% per -1 penalty to hit that body part (see p. 398). For instance, an animal with butting horns and a thick skull might have “Skull only,” for -70%. “Torso only” is -10%, and also protects the vital organs. When you take this limitation for arms, legs, hands, or feet, the DR protects all limbs of that type. If it only protects one limb, the limitation value doubles (e.g., arms are -2 to hit, so a single arm would be -40%). If you have arms, legs, etc. with different penalties, use the least severe penalty to calculate limitation value. Semi-Ablative: When an attack strikes semi-ablative DR, every 10 points of basic damage rolled removes one point of DR, regardless of whether the attack penetrates DR. Lost DR “heals” as for Ablative (and you cannot combine the two). -20%. Tough Skin: By default, Damage Resistance is “hard”: armor plate, chitin, etc. With this limitation, your DR is merely tough skin. Any effect that requires a scratch (e.g., poison) or skin contact (e.g., electrical shock or Pressure Points skill) affects you if the attack carrying it penetrates the DR of any armor you are wearing – even if it does exactly 0 damage! Your natural DR, being living tissue, provides no protection at all against such attacks. This limitation includes all the effects of the Flexible limitation (see above); you cannot take both. It is mutually incompatible with Force Field. -40%.

ESP: Your ability is part of the ESP psi power (see p. 255). -10%.

“Layered” Defenses

Special Enhancements

You may have multiple “layers” of DR with different combinations of


Danger Sense 2

15 points

You can’t depend on it, but sometimes you get this prickly feeling right at the back of your neck, and you know something’s wrong . . . If you have Danger Sense, the GM rolls once against your Perception, secretly, in any situation involving an ambush, impending disaster, or similar hazard. On a success, you get enough of a warning that you can take action. A roll of 3 or 4 means you get a little detail as to the nature of the danger. Danger Sense is included in Precognition (p. 77); if you have the latter trait, you cannot also have Danger Sense.

Special Limitations

Daredevil 2

15 points

Fortune seems to smile on you when you take risks! Any time you take an unnecessary risk (in the GM’s opinion), you get a +1 to all skill rolls. Furthermore, you may reroll any critical failure that occurs during such high-risk behavior. Example: A gang of thugs opens fire on you with automatic weapons. If you crouch down behind a wall and return fire from cover, Daredevil gives no bonuses. If you vault over the wall and charge the gunmen, screaming, it provides all of its benefits!

Dark Vision 3 1

25 points

You can see in absolute darkness using some means other than light, radar, or sonar. You suffer no skill penalties for darkness, no matter what its origin. However, you cannot see colors in the dark. Color Vision: You can see colors in the dark. +20%.


Destiny 2 5


Your fate is preordained. This is considered an advantage if you are destined for great things – although this might not always be clear, and might even be inconvenient at times. For a disadvantageous Destiny, see p. 131. When you choose this advantage, you may only specify its point value. The GM will secretly determine the nature of your Destiny, according to its point value and the dictates of the campaign. You might discover some clues about your Destiny via magical divination or similar techniques, but you are highly unlikely to learn its full extent until it is fulfilled. Note also that a Destiny may change as the campaign develops. Be aware that this advantage gives the GM absolute license to meddle with your life – the GM must make the Destiny work out! Working out a good Destiny and making sure it comes to pass require considerable ingenuity on the part of the GM. The GM may wish to forbid this advantage if he feels it would send the campaign off the rails. The point value of the Destiny determines its impact: Great Advantage: You are fated to achieve greatness within your lifetime. In the end, everyone will know and praise your name! Sooner or later, something will happen to bring this Destiny to fruition. Note that this does not guarantee “success.” If you choose to jump in front of an assassin’s knife during your first game session, the GM might just decide the Destiny is fulfilled . . . you died a hero! 15 points. Major Advantage: As above, but to a lesser extent. Alternatively, you might be doomed to die in a particular place or in a particular fashion: at sea, by the hand of an emperor, underground, or whatever. You can be grievously wounded – even maimed – under other circ*mstances, but you will not die. If you avoid the circ*mstances that would fulfill your Destiny, knowingly or otherwise, you might find that Fate has a few surprises. The sea might flood your home while you sleep, the general against whom you march might be the future emperor, or


Mt. Vesuvius might bury you under tons of ash. 10 points. Minor Advantage: You are fated to play a small part in a larger story, but this part will reflect to your credit. In game terms, you are guaranteed one significant victory. 5 points. If you fulfill your Destiny and survive, it’s over – but you might feel its repercussions for years to come. In general, the GM should let you put the character points spent on an advantageous Destiny toward a positive Reputation. A Destiny that goes unnoticed once fulfilled is not much of a Destiny!

Detect 2/3 1


You can detect a specific substance or condition, even when it is shielded from the five human senses. This requires one second of concentration, after which the GM will secretly make a Sense roll for you (see Sense Rolls, p. 358). The range modifiers from the Size and Speed/Range Table (p. 550) apply. You may buy a special Acute Sense (p. 35) to improve the roll, thereby increasing your effective range. On a success, the GM tells you the direction to the nearest significant source of the substance, and give you a clue as to the quantity present. On a failure, you sense nothing. Detect also includes the ability to analyze what you detect. This requires an IQ roll; the better the roll, the more precise the details. For instance, if you had Detect (Metal), you could tell gold from iron on a successful IQ roll, and might learn details – such as whether the gold is in the form of ore or bars, and its precise purity – on a critical success. The base cost of Detect is as follows: Rare (sorceresses, fire magic, zombies, gold, radar, radio): 5 points. Occasional (spellcasters, magic, undead, precious metal, electric fields, magnetic fields, radar and radio): 10 points. Common (humans, supernatural phenomena, supernatural beings, metal, electric and magnetic fields): 20 points.


Very Common (all life, all supernatural phenomena and beings, all minerals, all energy): 30 points. Note that the ability to detect certain phenomena can often justify other advantages. For instance, Detect (Magnetic Fields) could explain Absolute Direction.

Special Enhancements Precise: On a successful Sense roll, you also learn the distance to whatever you detect. +100%. Signal Detection: You can detect an active transmission of some sort, such as a radio, radar, or laser; see Scanning Sense (p. 81) and Telecommunication (p. 91). You suffer no range penalties, but must be within twice the signal’s own range and (if the signal is directional) within in its path. +0%.

Special Limitations Vague: You can only detect the presence or absence of the target substance. Direction and quantity are revealed only on a critical success, and you cannot analyze what you detect. This limitation is mutually exclusive with Precise. -50%.

Digital Mind 3 1

5 points

You are a sentient computer program – possibly an artificial intelligence or an “upload” of a living mind. By default, you inhabit a body that includes a computer with Complexity equal to at least half your IQ; see Computers (p. 472). You are completely immune to any power defined as “Telepathic,” and to magic spells that specifically affect living minds. However, computer viruses and abilities that affect Digital Minds can affect you; you can be taken offline (or even stored, unconscious, as data); and those with Computer Hacking or Computer Programming skill can gain access to your data . . . and possibly read or alter your consciousness! You are likely to have the Machine meta-trait (p. 263), but this is not mandatory, as you could be a computer-like mind inside an organic body (e.g., a bio-computer or a brain implant). The Reprogrammable disadvantage (p. 150) is also common for Digital Minds, as is the Automaton meta-trait (p. 263), but you do not

have to possess either trait. Many advantages are also possible but not automatic: Computing Power: If you operate faster than a human mind, buy Enhanced Time Sense (p. 52). If you can add advantages or skills temporarily by running programs, buy Modular Abilities (p. 71). Copies: If you can run multiple copies of your mind on a single computer system, buy Compartmentalized Mind (p. 43). If you can create loyal copies that run on other systems, buy Duplication (p. 50) with the Digital limitation. If you have copies backed up offline, buy Extra Life (p. 55). Uploading: If you can actively “upload” yourself into other computers, buy Possession (p. 75) with the Digital limitation. If you can do this easily, buy extra bodies as Puppets (p. 78).

Discriminatory Hearing 31

15 points

You have a superhuman ability to distinguish between sounds. You can always identify people by voice, and can recognize individual machines by their “sound signature.” You may memorize a sound by listening to it for at least one minute and making a successful IQ roll. On a failure, you must wait at least one full day before making a repeated attempt. You get +4 (in addition to any Acute Hearing bonuses) on any task that utilizes hearing, and receive +4 to Shadowing skill when following a noisy target. To simulate the passive sonar used by submarines, add a -30% Accessibility limitation, “Only underwater.”

Discriminatory Smell 3 1

15 points

Your sense of smell is far beyond the human norm, and can register distinctive odors for practically everything you may encounter. This allows you to recognize people, places, and things by scent. You may memorize a scent by sniffing it for at least one minute and making a successful IQ roll. On a failure, you must wait at

least one full day before making a repeated attempt. You get +4 (in addition to any Acute Taste and Smell bonuses) on any task that utilizes the sense of smell, and receive +4 to Tracking skill.

you, and you are immune to inhaled toxins. You are still affected by contact poisons, pressure, and vacuum; take Sealed (p. 82), Pressure Support (p. 77), and Vacuum Support (p. 96), respectively, to resist those threats.

Destiny is considered an advantage if you are destined for great things – although this might not always be clear, and might even be inconvenient at times.

If you actually become ill when exposed to the odor of a particular substance, take the Temporary Disadvantage limitation (p. 115). The most common effect is Revulsion (p. 151), but the GM may choose to allow other temporary disadvantages.

Special Enhancements Emotion Sense: You can detect a person or animal’s emotional state by odor. This functions as the Empathy advantage (p. 51), but you must be within 2 yards of the subject. +50%.

Discriminatory Taste 31

10 points

This talent functions in most ways like Discriminatory Smell (above), but enhances the sense of taste instead, so tracking is not possible. You must ingest a small quantity of the material to be examined; for a living subject, this means bodily fluids. This gives you an IQ roll to recognize the taste, identify whether a substance is safe to eat, etc. You can perform a detailed “analysis” with a roll against a suitable skill (Chemistry, Cooking, Pharmacy, Poisons . . .). You get +4 (in addition to any Acute Taste and Smell bonuses) on any task that utilizes the sense of taste.

Doesn’t Breathe 3 1

20 points

You do not breathe or require oxygen. Choking and strangulation attempts cannot harm (or silence!)


Special Limitations Gills: You can extract oxygen from water, allowing you to remain submerged indefinitely. You suffocate if the water contains no dissolved oxygen. You are immune to strangulation and “the bends.” If you can only survive underwater, and suffocate in air as quickly as a normal human would drown underwater, Doesn’t Breathe (Gills) is a 0-point feature; otherwise, -50%. Oxygen Absorption: As Gills, but you can absorb oxygen through the surface of your body whether it is in the air, a liquid, or another medium. Your body does not absorb poisonous gases, but you will suffocate if there is no oxygen available. You can use breathing equipment in space (your lungs are capable of working normally). You may not have the Sealed advantage. -25%. Oxygen Combustion: As Oxygen Absorption, but you cannot breathe underwater or anywhere else fire cannot burn. -50%. Oxygen Storage: You need to breathe, but you can go for extended periods of time without doing so; perhaps you store oxygen (like a whale) or have superior blood oxygenation. This differs from Breath-Holding in that you are completely immune to “the bends” while your oxygen supply holds out. If you can effectively “hold your breath” for 25 times as long as usual, this is -50%; 50 times, -40%; 100 times, -30%; 200 times, -20%; 300 times, -10%.


Doesn’t Eat or Drink 3 1

10 points

You do not require food, water, or fuel. Your body is powered in some other manner: solar power, ambient magical energy, etc. A sufficiently rare energy source might qualify you for Dependency (p. 130).

Doesn’t Sleep 3 1

20 points

You do not have to sleep at all. You can ignore all ill effects from missed nights of rest.

Dominance 2 5

20 points

You can “infect” others with a supernatural condition – vampirism, lycanthropy, etc. – and exert absolute control over them. This trait is only appropriate for supernatural beings that spread their “curse” through infection, and only affects members of susceptible races (typically your original race and very similar races). The GM is the judge of which curses are spread this way and who is susceptible. When you buy Dominance, you must specify one natural attack – Claws, Innate Attack, Vampiric Bite, etc. – that delivers the infection. Anyone you damage this way must roll 3d vs. the HP of injury he received (maximum one roll per day). If he rolls under the damage amount, he becomes infected, and will change into the same kind of creature as you in 2d days, or at the GM’s discretion, without suitable supernatural intervention. The GM is free to impose additional conditions for infection; for instance, the victim might have to suffer three attacks, or share your blood, or even die before making the roll above. Once the transition is complete, the victim acquires your supernatural racial template (Vampire, Werewolf, etc.) plus Slave Mentality (p. 154). He becomes your subordinate. If he goes on to infect others, his victims will acquire the same traits and serve you as well. Dominance itself costs 20 points, but to control a new victim, you must have sufficient unspent points to buy


him as an Ally (p. 36) with the enhancements “Minion” (due to his Slave Mentality) and “Special Abilities” (because he can create new servitors for you). You can choose any frequency of appearance, and may improve this later on with earned points. If you lack the points to buy you victim as an Ally – even at a frequency of “6 or less” – he will still be infected but he will not become your slave. Dominance persists until you die (truly die, for undead), or your slave grows in power and you cannot (or choose not to) spend the points to keep him as an Ally, or the GM rules the curse is broken via supernatural means. If any of these things occur, your victim will lose Slave Mentality


and become free-willed. You may use the points spent on your former Ally to dominate new victims. See Infectious Attack (p. 140) for the disadvantageous form of Dominance.

Double-Jointed see Flexibility, p. 56

Duplication 2/3 1

35 points/copy

You can split into two or more bodies (“Dupes”), each possessing your full knowledge and powers (but not copies of your equipment, unless you buy a special enhancement). It takes one second and a Concentrate maneuver to separate or merge. When your Dupes

merge, your FP and HP are the average of all your copies’ FP and HP at that time. Your combined self remembers everything experienced by any Dupe. Dupes have no special ability to coordinate with one another. For that, buy Telesend (see Telecommunication, p. 91). If your Telesend works only with your Dupes, you may take the Racial limitation. You may combine Telesend with a Mindlink (p. 70) with your Dupes, in which case you are in constant telepathic contact – no die rolls required. If one of your Dupes dies, all the others immediately take 2d damage and are stunned. This is mental stun if you define Duplication as a mental trait, physical stun if you define it as a physical trait. The IQ or HT roll to recover is at -6. You also lose the points you spent for that Dupe. The GM may allow you to buy back a dead Dupe with unspent points. Alternatively, an Extra Life (p. 55) will let you bring back any one dead Dupe. Your point value drops by the price of the Extra Life, but this is cheaper than buying back a Dupe.

Special Enhancements Duplicated Gear: Your Dupes appear with copies of Signature Gear (p. 85) that you are carrying or wearing. Duplicated equipment vanishes when you merge, even if it becomes separated from you. Treat your equipment’s HP, ammunition, energy supply, etc. just like your own HP and FP when you merge. +100%. No Sympathetic Injury: If one of your Dupes is killed, the others are not stunned or hurt. +20%.

Special Limitations Digital: Your Dupes are software copies of your mind, not physical copies of your body. They can possess other computers or occupy spare Puppets (p. 78). You may only take this limitation if you have both Digital Mind (p. 48) and Possession (Digital) (p. 75). -60%. Shared Resources: Your Dupes do not share your full FP and HP; instead, you must distribute your FP and HP among them. For instance, if you had 15 HP and one Dupe, you could split your HP 7 and 8, 2 and 13, or in any other combination that totaled 15. You need not distribute FP and HP proportionally; with 15 HP

and 15 FP, you could give one copy 3 FP and 9 HP and the other 12 FP and 6 HP. When your bodies re-combine, add their FP and HP instead of averaging. -40%.

Eidetic Memory 2

5 or 10 points

You have an exceptionally good memory. Anyone may attempt an IQ roll to recall the general sense of past events – the better the roll, the truer the memory, but the details are sketchy. With this talent, you automatically succeed at these “memory rolls,” and you often recall precise details. This trait comes in two levels: Eidetic Memory: You automatically remember the general sense of everything you concentrate on, and can recall specific details by making an IQ roll. It is possible to “learn” this advantage in play (bards and skalds often acquire it to recall poems and songs). 5 points. Photographic Memory: As above, but you automatically recall specific details, too. Any time you, the player forget a detail your character has seen or heard, the GM or other players must remind you – truthfully! 10 points. This trait affects recall, not comprehension, and so does not benefit skills. However, it gives a bonus whenever the GM requires an IQ roll for learning: +5 for Eidetic Memory, +10 for Photographic Memory.

Elastic Skin 3 1

20 points

You can alter your skin and facial features (but not clothing or makeup) to duplicate those of another member of your race or a very similar race. This takes 10 seconds, and requires a Disguise roll if you try to duplicate a particular individual. It takes three seconds to return to your original form. This ability gives +4 to all Disguise rolls.

Empathy 2

5 or 15 points

You have a “feeling” for people. When you first meet someone – or are reunited after an absence – you may ask the GM to roll against your IQ. He will tell you what you “feel” about that person. On a failed IQ roll, he will lie!


This talent is excellent for spotting impostors, possession, etc., and for determining the true loyalties of NPCs. You can also use it to determine whether someone is lying . . . not what the truth is, but just whether they are being truthful with you. This advantage comes in two levels: Sensitive: Your ability is not entirely reliable; the IQ roll is at -3. You get +1 to your Detect Lies and FortuneTelling skills, and to Psychology rolls to analyze a subject you can converse with. 5 points. Empathy: Your ability works at full IQ, and the bonus to Detect Lies, Fortune-Telling, and Psychology is +3. 15 points. This advantage works only on sapient (IQ 6+), natural beings. The equivalent talents for animals, plants, and supernatural entities are Animal Empathy (p. 40), Plant Empathy (p. 75), and Spirit Empathy (p. 88), respectively.

Enhanced Defenses 2


You are unusually adept at evading attacks! This may be due to careful observation of your foe, focusing chi, or anything else that fits your background. There are three versions: Enhanced Block: You have +1 to your Block score with either Cloak or Shield skill. You must specialize in one particular Block defense. 5 points. Enhanced Dodge: You have +1 to your Dodge score. 15 points. Enhanced Parry: You have +1 to your Parry score. You may take this advantage for bare hands (5 points), for any one Melee Weapon skill (5 points), or for all parries (10 points). 5 or 10 points. This talent is definitely cinematic! The GM might require Trained By A Master (p. 93) or Weapon Master (p. 99) as a prerequisite. He may choose to allow warriors to buy this trait with earned points. He might even permit multiple levels of each Enhanced Defense, in which case the point cost is per +1 bonus. Note that bonuses larger than +3 are almost certainly unbalanced, even in “over-thetop” games!


Enhanced Move 3 1

20 points/level

You can really move! Each level of Enhanced Move doubles your top speed in one environment: Air, Ground, Space, or Water. You may also take a half-level of Enhanced Move, either alone or with any whole number of levels; this costs 10 points and multiplies Move by 1.5. Example 1: A super buys Enhanced Move 4 (Ground), for 80 points. He multiplies his Move by 2 ¥ 2 ¥ 2 ¥ 2 = 16. If his Basic Move were 8, he could run at 128 yards/second (262 mph). Example 2: An avian race has Enhanced Move 2.5 (Air), for 50 points. All members of the race multiply their top airspeed by 2 ¥ 2 ¥ 1.5 = 6.

(Air) requires Flight (p. 56). Enhanced Move (Space) requires Flight with the Space Flight or Newtonian Space Flight enhancement, and affects movement in space – not airspeed. To move faster in air and in space, buy both Enhanced Move (Air) and Enhanced Move (Space).

Special Enhancements Handling Bonus: You get a bonus to DX or vehicle operation skill (e.g., Driving) for the sole purpose of maintaining control at speeds above your Basic Move. +5% per +1, to a maximum of +5.

Special Limitations Handling Penalty: You have a penalty to DX or vehicle operation skill at high speeds. -5% per -1, to a maximum of -5.

Extra Attack: The “default” assumption in GURPS is that you can make one attack per turn, no matter how many limbs you have.

Your multiplied Move is your top speed. Record it in parentheses after your Enhanced Move trait; for instance, the super in the example above would write “Enhanced Move 4 (Ground Speed 128).” You can always choose to accept a slightly lower top speed if you want your speed to match that of a real-world or fictional creature or vehicle with a known top speed. This does not give you back any points. Enhanced Move does not affect Basic Speed, Basic Move, or Dodge. Its benefits apply only when moving along a relatively straight, smooth course (see Sprinting, p. 354). It does have some defensive value, however: those who attack you with ranged attacks must take your speed into account when calculating speed/range modifiers (see p. 550). Most forms of Enhanced Move have prerequisites. Enhanced Move (Water) requires Amphibious (p. 40) or Aquatic (p. 145). Enhanced Move


Newtonian: This is a limitation for Enhanced Move (Space). Your space “top speed” is actually your “delta-v”: the total velocity change you can manage before running out of reaction mass. Once you have made velocity changes equal to your top speed, you must refuel before you can change velocity again. -50%. Road-Bound: This is a limitation for Enhanced Move (Ground). Your Enhanced Move is effective only on a smooth, flat surface, such as a road or building floor. This is often taken in conjunction with the Wheeled disadvantage (p. 145). -50%.

Enhanced Time Sense 2 1

45 points

You can receive and process information dramatically faster than the human norm. This improves your mental speed – notably your reaction time – but not how fast you physically


move once you react. This has several game benefits. First, Enhanced Time Sense (ETS) includes Combat Reflexes (p. 43), and provides all the benefits of that advantage. You cannot buy Combat Reflexes if you have ETS; the two advantages are not cumulative. In combat, you automatically act before those without ETS, regardless of Basic Speed. If more than one combatant has ETS, they act in order of Basic Speed, and they all get to act before those who lack ETS. You can perceive things that happen too fast for most people to discern. For example, you cannot be fooled by a projected image, because you can see the individual frames of the film. If secret information is being sent as a high-speed “burst,” you can detect it if you’re monitoring the transmission (you cannot necessarily decipher it, but you know it’s there). At the GM’s discretion, you get a Sense roll to spot objects moving so fast that they are effectively invisible; for instance, bullets in flight. ETS is extremely valuable if you possess magical or psionic defenses that work at the speed of thought. If you have ETS, your rapid thought processes always allow you to ponder a problem thoroughly and respond in the manner you think best. You never suffer skill penalties for being mentally “rushed” – although you still need the usual amount of time to complete a physical task, and suffer the usual penalties for hasty work. The GM can almost never tell you to make up your mind right now. (But don’t abuse this privilege by taking half an hour to decide what to do in each turn in combat!) The exception is when something happens so fast that most people can’t perceive it at all. In that case, the GM is justified in asking you for an immediate response, since those without ETS get no response. ETS does not “slow down” the world from your viewpoint. You can still enjoy a movie by simply ignoring the frames, much as a literate person can choose whether or not to notice the individual letters in the words he’s reading. ETS also does not let you violate the laws of physics. Some things (e.g., laser beams) simply travel too fast for you to react.

Enhanced Tracking 3 1

5 points/level

You can “track” more than one target – whether with a built-in sensor array or eyes that can swivel independently, like those of a chameleon. An Aim (p. 364) or Evaluate (p. 364) maneuver normally applies to a single target. Each level of Enhanced Tracking allows your maneuver to apply to one additional target. You can only track targets that you can detect, and you cannot Aim at more targets than you have ready weapons to Aim with.

Extended Lifespan 3 1

2 points/level

An average life cycle is defined as maturity at age 18, with aging effects (see p. 444) starting at age 50 and accelerating at ages 70 and 90. Each level of Extended Lifespan doubles all these values. Note that if you need to take more than seven levels of this trait (giving maturity at age 2,304 and the onset of aging at age 6,400), it is more efficient to take Unaging (p. 95).

use a shield and one-handed weapon at the same time. No matter how many arms you have, though, you do not get additional attacks (or other extra maneuvers) in combat unless you buy Extra Attacks (see below).

Close Combat With Extra Arms Extra arms give a huge advantage in close combat. You cannot punch with more than one arm at a time unless you have Extra Attack, but you may grapple with all of your arms at once. Each extra arm of regular length or longer, over and above the generic set of two, gives +2 to any attempt to grapple or break free from a grapple. Having more arms than your opponent also gives +3 on any attempt to pin or resist a pin.

Special Enhancements

In GURPS, a limb with which you can manipulate objects is an arm, regardless of where it grows or what it looks like. A normal arm can strike a blow that inflicts thrust-1 crushing damage based on ST. The human norm is two arms for 0 points. Extra arms have a base cost of 10 points apiece.

Extra-Flexible: Limbs with this enhancement are more flexible than human arms, like tentacles or an elephant’s trunk. These limbs can always reach and work with other limbs, regardless of body positioning, general layout, or “right” and “left.” +50%. Long: Your arm is longer in proportion to your body than a human arm relative to the human body. This increases your effective SM for the purpose of calculating reach with that arm (see Size Modifier and Reach, p. 402). This does affect the reach of melee weapons wielded in that hand. Each +1 to SM also adds +1 per die to swinging damage. +100% per +1 to SM.


Special Limitations

Extra Arms 3 1


You can use extra arms freely for multiple noncombat tasks. For instance, with three arms, you could perform a one-handed task (e.g., use a computer mouse) and a two-handed task (e.g., type) simultaneously. You need Enhanced Tracking (p. 53) to perform tasks that require attention to events in more than one place at a time, however. You can also use all of your arms in concert for a single combat maneuver where extra arms would be helpful; e.g., grappling in close combat. And if you have at least three arms, you can use a shield normally with one arm and still wield a two-handed weapon, just as a normal human fighter can

Foot Manipulators: Your “arm” is really an unusually dextrous leg. You cannot walk while you are manipulating objects with it (although you can sit, float, or fly). This is a Temporary Disadvantage limitation, the disadvantage being Legless (p. 141). This kind of arm is usually – but not always – Short (see below). -30%. No Physical Attack: The limb can manipulate but cannot punch or wield melee weapons, and gives no bonus in close combat. It can still wield a firearm or similar ranged weapon. -50%. Short: The arm has reach “C” (close combat only), and lacks the leverage to use any weapon that must be


swung. Subtract one yard from the reach of any melee weapon wielded by that limb. If all of your arms are short, you are at -2 on any attempt to grapple. -50%. Weak: The arm has less than your full body ST for lifting, striking, and grappling. -25% if the arm has half your body ST, or -50% if it has 1/4 your body ST (round down in both cases). Weapon Mount: Instead of an arm, you have a “hardpoint” where you can mount a weapon. This may be biological, mechanical, or a hybrid of the two, depending on whether you are a living being, a machine, or a cyborg. You cannot use this mount for any purpose other than bearing a weapon. This limitation is incompatible with Feet Manipulator, No Physical Attack, Short, and Weak. -80%.

Modifying Beings With One or Two Arms Beings with one or two arms can use the special modifiers above. Point cost is equal to 1/10 the percentile modifier per affected arm. Thus, enhancements become advantages and limitations become disadvantages. For instance, Short is -50%, so it is worth -5 points per arm. Someone with two short arms would have a -10point disadvantage. Those with one arm can only apply these modifiers once, but also get the -20 points for One Arm (p. 147). For instance, an elephant’s trunk would be Extra-Flexible (+50%), Long (+100%), and Weak (-50%). These modifiers total +100%, for a 10-point advantage. The -20 points for One Arm would make the net cost -10 points.

Extra Attack 3

25 points/attack

You can attack more than once per turn. The “default” assumption in GURPS is that you can make one attack per turn, no matter how many limbs you have. Each Extra Attack allows one additional attack per turn. You may not have more attacks than you have limbs (arms, legs, etc.), natural weapons (Strikers, Teeth, etc.), and attack powers (Afflictions, Bindings, and Innate Attacks) with which to attack. The GM’s word on what constitutes an “attack” is final. A normal human can purchase one Extra Attack. This lets him attack with


both hands at once, and represents unusually good coordination. Supers and nonhumans have no such limitation. A super-powered cop could buy two Extra Attacks, enabling him to shoot rays from his eyes, fire his pistol, and swing his nightstick all at once. A dragon might take four Extra Attacks and attack five times with any combination of his four clawed limbs, teeth, horns, tail, and fiery breath! Extra Attack is exactly that: an extra Attack maneuver on your turn in combat. It does not eliminate the -4 penalty for an “off” hand (see Ambidexterity, p. 39) or let you take multiple Aim maneuvers (see Enhanced Tracking, p. 53). You may use some of your attacks for Feint maneuvers, but you many not take multiple actions of other kinds – that requires Altered Time Rate (p. 38).

Extra Attacks and All-Out Attack When an individual with Extra Attacks makes an All-Out Attack, he must select one type of bonus for all his attacks that turn. He could not, for instance, take All-Out Attack (Determined) with one attack and AllOut Attack (Strong) with another. If he chooses All-Out Attack (Double) to increase his number of attacks, he gets one additional attack.

Extra Attacks and Rapid Strike You may use one of your melee attacks to make a Rapid Strike (see p. 370) on your turn, at the usual penalty. Your remaining attacks are in addition to this Rapid Strike, and receive no penalty. You may not use Rapid Strike with two or more attacks in one turn.

Extra Head 3 1

15 points/head

You have more than one head, each with fully functional ears, eyes, mouth, etc. Each Extra Head gives you one Extra Mouth (p. 55) and one level of Enhanced Tracking (p. 53) at no extra charge. Each head also contains an extra brain with a complete copy of your memories, personality, and skills. These extra brains are “backups,” however, and do not grant additional mental actions – for that, take Compartmentalized Mind (p. 43).


You cannot suffer more than 2 ¥ (your HP/number of heads) points of injury from any single attack to your head or neck. Any head blow that causes unconsciousness only knocks out that one head; the others continue to function! A critical head blow that would normally kill you simply destroys that head, inflicting the maximum injury noted above and crushing, severing, or exploding the head (GM’s option).

Special Limitations Extraneous: Your Extra Head grants Extra Mouth and Enhanced Tracking, but does not contain a backup brain. A single blow to an Extraneous head can do no more than


HP/(1.5 ¥ number of heads) points of injury, but blows to your real head can cause stun, knockout, or death even if your other heads are unharmed. -20%.

Extra Legs 3 1


If you can walk on a limb but cannot use it to manipulate objects, it is a leg in GURPS (for legs that double as arms, see Extra Arms, p. 53). A normal leg can kick for thrust/crushing damage at your usual reach (1 yard for a human). The human norm is two legs, which costs 0 points. It costs points to have more than two legs: Three or four legs: If you lose a leg, you can continue to move at half

Move (round down). Loss of a second leg causes you to fall. 5 points. Five or six legs: Each leg lost reduces Move by 20% until only three legs are left. At that point, your Move is 40% normal. Loss of another leg causes you to fall. 10 points. Seven or more legs: Each leg lost reduces Move by 10% until only three legs are left. At that point, your Move is 40% normal. Loss of another leg causes you to fall. 15 points. You can apply the following modifiers to all your legs:

Special Enhancements Long: Your legs are longer in proportion to your body than human legs relative to the human body. This increases your effective SM for the purpose of calculating reach when kicking (see Size Modifier and Reach, p. 402) and when clambering over obstacles. +100% per +1 to SM.

Special Limitations Cannot Kick: You cannot use your legs to kick for damage. -50%.

Modifying Beings With Two Legs The modifiers above can be applied to creatures with only two legs. Point cost is equal to 1/10 the percentile modifier. For instance, a human with Cannot Kick (-50%) would have a -5point disadvantage.

Extra Life 2 1

copy exists before you die. You must tell the GM where you store it. You will return to life at that location . . . and if your enemies discover where you store your copy, they may tamper with it! -20%. Requires Body: You come back in disembodied state – for instance, as a spirit or a digital copy on a computer. All your experiences and abilities are intact (unless you took Copy), but you cannot interact with the physical world at all until you acquire a new body. This might be a clone, an undead corpse, or even a robot “shell.” -20%, or -40% if the required body is illegal, rare, or expensive (GM’s decision).

Extra Mouth 3 1

5 points/mouth

You have more than one functional mouth, which can be anywhere on your body. All of your mouths are capable of breathing, eating, and speaking. An Extra Mouth lets you bite more than once if you have Extra Attacks (p. 53). If you have Compartmentalized Mind (p. 43), you can carry on multiple conversations, or cast two spells that require spoken words. Other benefits include being hard to silence or suffocate, and being able to sing in harmony with yourself!

Fashion Sense see p. 21

25 points/life

You can come back from the dead! No matter how sure your foes were that they killed you, you didn’t really die. Work out the details with the GM. Every time you come back from the dead, you use up one Extra Life – remove it from your character sheet and reduce your point total by 25 points. The GM may wish to let players spend earned points to buy Extra Lives in play.

Special Limitations Copy: When you die, you revert to a “backup copy.” To create this copy takes minutes or hours, possibly at a special facility. Details are up to the GM. Make a copy of your character sheet whenever you update your backup. If you die, you revert to those statistics, losing any traits or character points acquired since then. Note that a

Favor 4


You saved someone’s life, kept silent at the right time, or otherwise did someone a good turn. Now he owes you one. A Favor is a one-shot Ally, Contact, Contact Group, or Patron. Work out the point cost of the parent advantage, and then divide it by 5 (round up) to get the cost of the Favor. The catch is that the NPC(s) in question will help you out once . . . and only once. When you wish to “collect” on your Favor, the GM rolls against the frequency of appearance of the underlying advantage. On a failure, you couldn’t reach your “friend” in time, or he couldn’t comply, but you still have your Favor coming. You may try again on a later adventure.


On a success, you get what you want (subject to the limits of the advantage). But this discharges the obligation: remove the Favor from your character sheet and reduce your point total appropriately. However, if the roll is a 3 or 4, your “friend” still feels indebted to you, and you retain the Favor . . . at least until next time. You may buy a Favor in play, just like any trait of this kind. The GM may also wish to include a Favor as part of the reward for a successful adventure.

Fearlessness 2

2 points/level

You are difficult to frighten or intimidate! Add your level of Fearlessness to your Will whenever you make a Fright Check or must resist the Intimidation skill (p. 202) or a supernatural power that induces fear. You also subtract your Fearlessness level from all Intimidation rolls made against you.

Filter Lungs 3 1

5 points

Your respiratory system can filter out ordinary contaminants; e.g., dust, pollen, smoke, and even tear gas (but not nerve gas or other contact agents). You suffer no ill effects from such things. This is especially useful in polluted cities and on alien worlds. Note that if you have Doesn’t Breathe (p. 49), you do not need this advantage!

Fit 3

5 or 15 points

You have better cardiovascular health than your HT alone would indicate. This comes in two levels: Fit: You get +1 to all HT rolls (to stay conscious, avoid death, resist disease or poison, etc.). This does not improve your HT attribute or HTbased skills! You also recover FP at twice the normal rate. 5 points. Very Fit: As above, but the bonus to HT rolls is +2. In addition, you lose FP at only half the normal rate. 15 points. In both cases, this advantage applies only to FP lost to exertion, heat, etc. It has no effect on FP spent to power psi or magic spells.


Flexibility 3

5 or 15 points

Your body is unusually flexible. This advantage comes in two levels: Flexibility: You get +3 on Climbing rolls; on Escape rolls to get free of ropes, handcuffs, and similar restraints; on Erotic Art skill; and on all attempts to break free in close combat (see p. 391). You may ignore up to -3 in penalties for working in close quarters (including many Explosives and Mechanic rolls). 5 points. Double-Jointed: As above, but more so. You cannot stretch or squeeze yourself abnormally, but any part of your body may bend any way. You get +5 on Climbing, Erotic Art, and Escape rolls, and on attempts to break free. You may ignore up to -5 in penalties for close quarters. 15 points.

Flight 3 1

40 points

You can fly. The “default” is fullfledged, self-powered flight without wings or gliding surfaces. This works at any altitude where there is still significant atmosphere – but in the upper atmosphere, you’ll need a way to survive in very thin, cold air (e.g., Doesn’t Breathe and Temperature Tolerance). You cannot fly in a trace atmosphere or vacuum. Your flight Move is Basic Speed ¥ 2 (drop all fractions). As explained in Move in Other Environments (p. 18), you can adjust this for ±2 points per ±1 yard/second. For very high speeds, take Enhanced Move (Air). If you do not have any of the Controlled Gliding, Gliding, Lighter Than Air, Small Wings, Space Flight Only, or Winged Flight limitations, you can also “fly” at half-speed underwater. Flight includes the ability to hover at Move 0 as well. Flight does not confer the ability to do complex acrobatics and tight turns; for that, buy Aerobatics skill (p. 174). Flight skill (p. 195) improves endurance. You can alter most of the above assumptions through special modifiers.

Special Enhancements Newtonian Space Flight: As Space Flight (below), except that your space


Move – or your space top speed, if you have Enhanced Move (Space) – is actually your “delta-v”: the total velocity change you can manage in space before running out of reaction mass. For instance, you could accelerate up to your delta-v and stay there (like a missile), or to half your delta-v and then decelerate to a stop at the end of your trip (like a conventional spacecraft). Once you have made velocity changes equal to your delta-v, you must refuel before you can change your velocity in space again. +25%. Space Flight: You can fly in space or a vacuum (such as on the moon). Your space Move is Basic Speed ¥ 2. If you want to be able to accelerate constantly to reach a higher top speed, like a rocket, buy Enhanced Move (Space) (p. 52). This will let you accelerate or decelerate each turn by an amount equal to your space Move, up to your enhanced top speed. For a “realistic” space move that lets you accelerate indefinitely in a vacuum (up to the speed of light), you’ll want Enhanced Move 25-27 (Space). This is incompatible with all other special modifiers except Space Flight Only. +50%.

Special Limitations Cannot Hover: You must always move at least 1/4 your top airspeed (round up) when flying. This is incompatible with Controlled Gliding and Gliding. -15%. Controlled Gliding: Like Gliding (below) in most respects, but you can gain altitude by riding updrafts or “thermals.” A typical ascent rate is one yard per second. You can locate thermals, if any are present, on a successful IQ or Meteorology roll (one attempt per minute). -45%. Gliding: You cannot gain altitude. With a running leap, you can launch yourself with an air Move equal to Basic Move. Each turn, you can change velocity by up to 10 yards/second ¥ local gravity in Gs (Earth’s gravity is 1G). To accelerate, you must descend by 1 yard for each 1 yard/second added to velocity; top speed is Basic Move ¥ 4 (but you can go faster if towed). To decelerate, you must fly level. If you do not descend at least 1 yard, you automatically decelerate by 1 yard/second that turn. When working out turning radius, your basic air Move is 10 ¥ local gravity in Gs. Each


level of Enhanced Move (Air) either doubles top speed or halves deceleration in level flight (e.g., one level means you only lose 0.5 yard/second in level flight); specify which when you buy it. -50%. Lighter Than Air: You fly by becoming lighter than air (or gaseous). A wind moves you 1 yard/second, in the direction it is blowing, per 5 mph of wind speed. If the wind happens to be blowing in the direction you wish to travel, this adds to your Move; otherwise, your Move goes down as you fight against the breeze. -10%. Low Ceiling: You cannot fly very high. This does not limit speed in any way, but the GM may require Aerobatics rolls to dodge obstacles near the ground. A 30-foot ceiling is -10%; a 10-foot ceiling is -20%; and a 5-foot ceiling is -25%. Small Wings: As Winged (below), except that your wingspan is no more than half your height. You use your wings to steer and to stabilize your flight – not to lift. If your wings are crippled in flight, roll against Aerobatics skill (or default) to land safely. -10%. Space Flight Only: You can only take this in conjunction with Space Flight or Newtonian Space Flight. You can fly only in space; you have air Move 0 in atmosphere. You require a boost to reach space from any planet with an atmosphere, and are incapable of atmospheric reentry. -75%. Winged: You use large wings or skin flaps to fly. Wingspan is at least twice your height. In order to take off, land, or maneuver, you must have an open area with a radius equal to your wingspan in all directions. If your wings are bound, or if a wing is crippled (more than 1/3 of your wings, if you have more than two), you cannot fly. Treat wings as arms for the purpose of targeting and crippling. If you wish to strike blows or manipulate objects with your wings, you must pay for them as Strikers or Extra Arms in addition to the cost of Flight. -25%.

Gadgeteer 2

25 or 50 points

You are a natural inventor. You can modify existing equipment and – given sufficient time and money – invent entirely new gadgets as described under Gadgeteering (p. 475).

This trait costs 1 point per gravity field with which you have experience. For instance, an Earth native who works on the moon might have G-Experience (0.16G). To enjoy the benefits of G-Experience in all gravity fields, buy G-Experience (All) for 10 points.

Gifted Artist see Talent, p. 89

Gizmos 2

5 points/gizmo

You always seem to have just the piece of gear you need. Once per game session per level of this advantage, you may pull out one small item of equipment that you could have been carrying. This “Gizmo” remains undefined until you reveal it. It does not even “enter play” until you take it out; thus, it cannot be damaged, lost, stolen, or found in a search. A Gizmo must be small enough to fit in an ordinary coat pocket, and must meet one of three criteria:

This lets you design gadgets quickly, and makes it easy to realize higher-TL innovations. This advantage comes in two levels: Gadgeteer: You are a “cinematic” gadgeteer, but your work still takes days or months, and requires a good deal of money and expensive equipment. 25 points. Quick Gadgeteer: You can throw together wondrous gadgets in minutes or hours, and can get by with scrounged-together spare parts that cost a few percent of what a “realistic” inventor would have to spend. This level is definitely unsuitable for realistic campaigns! 50 points.

G-Experience 2

1 to 10 points

You have experience working in one or more gravitational fields other than your native one, and your reflexes adapt quickly to the way objects move and fall in those fields. You suffer only half the usual DX penalty for different gravity (see Different Gravity, p. 350). In situations where low gravity would make a task easier, you roll at full DX, plus the bonus for low gravity, plus an extra +1. For instance, if a normal person would get +2 to catch a ball in low gravity, you would get +3.


1. An item you own but did not specifically state you were carrying. For instance, if you own a handgun, and get ambushed while driving to church, you could pull out your pistol – even if the police searched your vehicle five minutes ago and found no weapons! 2. An item that you probably own, and that is in keeping with your character concept, but that is minor or ignorable enough to leave unspecified. For instance, a policeman might happen to be carrying a spare handcuff key, while a wizard might have some eye of newt. The GM has the final say, but should be lenient if the item you wish to have is consistent with your character story. 3. An inexpensive device widely available at your tech level. For instance, if you need to light the fuse on some dynamite, you could pull out a box of matches – and they would work, even if you just took an involuntary swim in the creek. Each Gizmo you can use per game session (maximum of three) costs 5 points. Note that this ability is not realistic! The GM may wish to limit it further, or forbid it, in a realistic campaign.


Gadgeteers and Gizmos Those with the Gadgeteer advantage (p. 56) have more latitude. In addition to the usual items available, a Gadgeteer may specify that his Gizmo is one of his inventions (which must still be small). Instead of pulling an existing gadget “out of his pocket,” a Gadgeteer can use his Gizmo to let him build what he needs on the spot. He must still possess or find the appropriate materials, and know any required skills. The GM should roll secretly against the relevant skill, at -2 or worse. A failed roll means the device doesn’t work (this still “uses up” the Gizmo). A critical failure means the device backfires spectacularly!

Green Thumb see Talent, p. 89

by +1 (or by -1 as you return to normal size). If you attempt to grow in a room, vehicle, container, etc. that isn’t large enough to hold you, your growth normally stops. However, if maximum thrust damage for your current ST is greater than the wall or ceiling’s DR, you burst through it. This takes one second per point of DR. You must buy the ST necessary to support your form separately. This is 5 ¥ final height in yards. If your ST increases with height and is only available when you grow, you may buy it with the Size limitation (see Strength, p. 14). Use your maximum SM to determine the limitation value. At intermediate SMs, find your height as a fraction of your maximum height. This is the fraction of your extra ST available to you at that SM (round down).

Gizmos: You may pull out one small item of equipment that you could have been carrying. This “Gizmo” remains undefined until you reveal it. It cannot be lost, stolen, or found in a search.

Growth 3 1

10 points/level

You can grow – really grow! As your size increases, so must your ST (or you would collapse under your own weight). Your equipment doesn’t change size! Each level of Growth lets you increase your Size Modifier by +1. Find your final height from the Size Modifier Table (p. 19). Increases in SM affect your arm and leg length when calculating reach and determining whether you can negotiate obstacles; see Size Modifier and Reach (p. 402). It takes one second to modify your SM


Example: A 6’-tall character (SM 0) has Growth 4. He can grow to SM +4, giving him a maximum height of 10 yards. He must buy ST 50 to support himself. If he has ST 15 and gains +35 ST only at full height, he may buy his +35 ST with a -40% Size limitation. At SM +1, he will be 3 yards tall. This is 30% of his final height, so he will have 30% of +35 ST, or +10 ST, for ST 25. Similarly, he’ll be 5 yards tall with ST 32 at SM +2, 7 yards tall with ST 39 at SM +3, and 10 yards tall with ST 50 at SM +4.

Special Modifiers Maximum Size Only: You can only assume normal or maximum size.


Instead of growing at +1 SM per second, you grow to your maximum SM – or revert back to your usual SM – in one second. The limitation of no intermediate SMs (restricting your use of this ability in close quarters) cancels out the enhancement of rapid growth (a useful benefit in combat). +0%.

Gunslinger 2

25 points

You can make uncannily precise shots without aiming. This ability works with any weapon that uses Beam Weapons, Gunner, Guns, or Liquid Projector skill. It gives no bonuses when using muscle-powered missile weapons (but the GM is free to introduce a low-tech version that works with Blowpipe, Bow, Crossbow, Sling, etc.). When firing single shots (RoF 1-3) from a one-handed weapon, you get the Accuracy bonus of your weapon without the need for an Aim maneuver. When using a two-handed weapon or automatic fire, you get half the Accuracy bonus (round up) without the need to Aim. If you do Aim, you always get full Acc, and bracing, scopes, and additional seconds of Aim provide the usual benefits. This ability is intended for cinematic games with an “action movie” ambience. The GM may wish to forbid it in a completely realistic campaign.

Hard to Kill 3

2 points/level

You are incredibly difficult to kill. Each level of Hard to Kill gives +1 to HT rolls made for survival at -HP or below, and on any HT roll where failure means instant death (due to heart failure, poison, etc.). If this bonus makes the difference between success and failure, you collapse, apparently dead (or disabled), but come to in the usual amount of time – see Recovering from Unconsciousness (p. 423). A successful Diagnosis roll (or a Mechanic roll, for machines) reveals the truth. Example: Bruno has HT 12, 15 HP, and Hard to Kill 4. He takes 45 points of damage, which reduces him to -30 HP. He must make two HT rolls to survive: one at -15 HP, one at -30 HP. He rolls an 11 for the first one, but on the second roll, he gets a 14. This is above his HT (12), but below his modified

HT (12 + 4 = 16). He passes out, and his foes leave him for dead. Roughly a day later, he’ll regain consciousness – injured, but not dead! In a realistic campaign, the GM may wish to limit characters to Hard to Kill 1 or 2.

Hard to Subdue 3

2 points/level

You are hard to knock out. Each level of Hard to Subdue gives +1 to any HT roll to avoid unconsciousness – whether as a result of injury, drugs, or ultra-tech weapons – and to resist supernatural abilities that cause unconsciousness. In a realistic campaign, the GM may wish to limit characters to Hard to Subdue 1 or 2.

Healer see Talent, p. 89

Healing 2 1

30 points

You have the ability to heal others. You must be in physical contact with the subject. To activate your power, concentrate for one second and make an IQ roll. Roll at -2 if the subject is unconscious. You can use Healing in two ways: Heal Injuries: On a success, you can heal any number of HP. This costs you 1 FP per 2 HP healed (round up). Failure costs 1d FP, but you can try again; critical failure also causes the recipient 1d damage. Even 1 HP of healing will stop bleeding. By rolling at -6, you can repair a crippled but whole limb if you completely heal the HP lost to the crippling injury. For instance, to heal a hand crippled by 4 points of damage, make an IQ-6 roll and spend 2 FP. Each healer gets only one attempt per crippled limb. Healing cannot restore lost limbs or bring back the dead. Cure Disease: This requires an IQ roll at a modifier determined by the GM – from +1 for the common cold to -15 for AIDS. The FP cost is equal to twice the penalty, minimum 1 FP. For instance, it would cost 6 FP to cure a disease that calls for an IQ-3 roll. If used more than once per day on a given subject, apply a cumulative -3 per successful healing of the same type

(injury or disease) on that subject. This penalty accumulates until a full day has passed since the most recent healing. Healing works on your own race and on all “similar” races. In a fantasy campaign, for instance, all warmblooded humanoid races (elves, dwarves, orcs, halflings, etc.) would be “similar.”

all DX-based rolls against Artist, Jeweler, Knot-Tying, Leatherworking, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, Sewing, Sleight of Hand, and Surgery, as well as DX-based rolls to do fine work with Machinist or Mechanic (e.g., on clockwork). This bonus doesn’t apply to IQbased tasks or large-scale DX-based tasks, nor does it apply to combatrelated die rolls of any kind.

Special Enhancements

High Pain Threshold 3

Faith Healing: Your power works by channeling spiritual energy. This lets you cure anyone the spirits or gods deem worthy of healing, regardless of race. However, you (and possibly your subject) must behave in a manner consistent with the interests and moral codes of your supernatural allies, or this ability will not work. You may not combine Faith Healing with Own Race Only or Xenohealing. +20%. Xenohealing: You can heal beings quite dissimilar from yourself. Examples, assuming you are human: All Mammals, +20%; All Earthly Life, +40%; All Carbon-Based Life, +60%; Anything Alive, +80%; Anything Animate (including undead, golems, etc.), +100%.

Special Limitations Disease Only: You can only cure disease. -40%. Injuries Only: You can only heal injuries. -20%. Own Race Only: This is only available in campaigns with multiple sapient races. -20%. Psychic Healing: Your ability is part of the Psychic Healing psi power (see p. 256). -10%.

Hermaphromorph 3 1

5 points

You can switch among fully functional neuter, male, and female forms. The process takes 10 seconds (Preparation Required, Takes Extra Time, and Takes Recharge are common limitations).

High Manual Dexterity 3

5 points/level

You have remarkably fine motor skills. Each level (to a maximum of four) gives +1 to DX for tasks that require a delicate touch. This includes


10 points

You are as susceptible to injury as anyone else, but you don’t feel it as much. You never suffer a shock penalty when you are injured. In addition, you get +3 on all HT rolls to avoid knockdown and stunning – and if you are tortured physically, you get +3 to resist. The GM may let you roll at Will+3 to ignore pain in other situations. High Pain Threshold is included in Supernatural Durability (p. 89); if you have the latter advantage, you cannot take this one.

High TL see p. 23

Higher Purpose 2 5

5 points

You are driven to exceed your normal limits in one specific pursuit. You must state this exactly as if it were a Code of Honor disadvantage (p. 127): “Defend all women,” “Slay all demons,” etc. If, in the GM’s judgment, you are unfaltering in your pursuit of your Higher Purpose, you get +1 to all die rolls that pertain directly to the pursuit of your cause. If you deviate from your Higher Purpose, you lose this bonus . . . and the GM is free to penalize you for bad roleplaying just as if you had ignored a Code of Honor. A Higher Purpose must be specific. Higher Purposes such as “Fight evil” or “Oppose authority figures” are too broad to be balanced. In addition, a Higher Purpose must entail genuine risk and inconvenience. The GM should not allow pragmatic Higher Purposes like “Faithfully serve my superiors.” All Higher Purposes are subject to GM approval.


Hyperspectral Vision 3 1

25 points

Your vision extends across the infrared, visible, and ultraviolet portions of the spectrum. This integrated picture often reveals details that are invisible to those who merely possess normal vision, Infravision (p. 60), or Ultravision (p. 94). Hyperspectral Vision grants nearperfect night vision: you suffer no vision or combat penalties if there is any light at all. In total darkness, it functions exactly like Infravision. This trait also gives +3 on all Vision rolls; on all rolls to spot hidden clues or objects with Forensics, Observation, or Search skill; and on all Tracking rolls. If you possess Hyperspectral Vision, you cannot also have Infravision or Ultravision. This trait is essentially a higher level of both those advantages. Its game effects replace the specific effects of those traits. As described, this trait emulates realistic TL7+ sensors. The GM may permit supers to take the two special enhancements below. Neither is appropriate for real-world sensors!

Special Enhancements Extended Low-Band: You perceive radiation below the infrared, allowing you to “see” microwave, radar, and radio sources. This gives no special ability to understand radio signals! +30%. Extended High-Band: You sense radiation above the ultraviolet, allowing you to “see” X-ray and gamma ray sources. +30%.

Illuminated 2 5

15 points

You are an “Illuminatus” in the original sense of the word – you are enlightened. You know what’s going on, and you know it intuitively. You can discern other Illuminati on sight, with no possibility of error. Furthermore, whenever the GM requires a roll against a skill such as Current Affairs, Hidden Lore, or Intelligence Analysis to tell whether a certain strange occurrence is truly a coincidence or the result of a conspiracy, you may roll against the higher of your IQ and the specific skill in


question. Finally, you can perceive and communicate with supernatural beings who are tied to Illuminated conspiracies in your game world (GM’s decision). This gives you no special ability to control them, but they recognize you and treat you with a certain respect: +3 on reaction rolls. The only drawback is that other Illuminati and spiritual beings are able to perceive your Illuminated nature, and there’s nothing you can do about it except stay out of sight. This advantage is best suited to mystical or fantastic campaigns. It is rarely appropriate in “mundane” conspiracy campaigns. The GM is the final judge of who may possess this trait.

Improved G-Tolerance 3

5 to 25 points

You can function under a wide range of gravities. For a normal human, the penalties for non-native gravity accrue in increments of 0.2G; see Different Gravity (p. 350). A larger increment costs points: 5 points for 0.3G, 10 points for 0.5G, 15 points for 1G, 20 points for 5G, and 25 points for 10G. Normal humans are limited to 10 points in this trait.

Independent Income see p. 26

Indomitable 2

15 points

You are impossible to influence through ordinary words or actions. Those who wish to use Influence skills on you (see Influence Rolls, p. 359) must possess a suitable advantage: Empathy (p. 51) if you are a human or similar being, Animal Empathy (p. 40) if you’re a beast, Plant Empathy (p. 75) if you’re a plant, or Spirit Empathy (p. 88) if you’re a demon, ghost, etc. Everyone else – however convincing – fails automatically. This trait often accompanies Unfazeable (p. 95).

Infravision 3 1

0 or 10 points

You can see into the infrared portion of the spectrum, allowing you to detect varying degrees of heat. This lets you fight at no penalty even in absolute darkness, if your target emits


heat (this includes all living beings and most machines). It also gives you +2 on all Vision rolls to spot such targets, since their heat stands out from the background. You can follow a heat trail when tracking: add +3 to Tracking rolls if the trail is no more than an hour old. Infravision does not let you distinguish colors, and only allows you to judge the general size and shape of heat-emitting objects, including living beings (for instance, you might have trouble telling two people of the same size apart). Roll at -4 to distinguish objects of similar size and shape. The GM may also require a Vision-4 roll to read by reflected heat. Sudden flashes of heat (e.g., a flare, fiery explosion, or infrared laser) can blind you, just as a flash of light can blind ordinary vision. Cost depends on your capabilities: You can only see using Infravision, and are subject to its limitations at all times: 0 points. You can switch freely between normal vision and Infravision: 10 points.

Injury Tolerance 3 1


You have fewer physiological weaknesses than ordinary living beings. The cost of this advantage depends on the precise frailties eliminated. Note that some forms of Injury Tolerance include others, and that Diffuse, hom*ogenous, and Unliving are mutually incompatible. Diffuse: Your body is fluid or particulate, composed of a swarm of smaller entities, or perhaps made of pure energy. This makes you immune to crippling injuries and reduces the damage you suffer from most physical blows; see Injury to Unliving, hom*ogenous, and Diffuse Targets (p. 380). Most foes (GM’s decision) cannot slam or grapple you! Diffuse includes all the benefits of No Blood, No Brain, and No Vitals. 100 points. hom*ogenous: Your body has no vulnerable internal organs, bones, muscles, or other mechanisms. As a result, you are less susceptible to piercing and impaling attacks; see Injury to Unliving, hom*ogenous, and Diffuse Targets (p. 380). hom*ogenous includes the benefits of No Brain and No Vitals. This trait is intended for

entities such as iron golems, trees, and slimes. 40 points. No Blood: You do not rely upon a vital bodily fluid (like blood) for survival. You do not bleed (see Bleeding, p. 420), are unaffected by blood-borne toxins, and are immune to attacks that rely on cutting off blood to part of your body. 5 points. No Brain: Your brain – if you have one – is distributed throughout your body, or isn’t your true seat of consciousness. Your opponents cannot target it for extra damage. You may have a head, but a blow to the skull or eye is treated no differently than a blow to the face (except that an eye injury can still cripple that eye). 5 points. No Eyes: You lack eyes or other vulnerable optics, but can somehow see despite this (unless of course you suffer from Blindness, p. 124). As you have no eyes, they cannot be attacked. You are also immune to blinding attacks. 5 points. No Head: You have no head at all. This includes the benefits of No Brain. As well, you lack “skull” and “face” hit locations, and have no need for head armor. You can still see, speak, hear, smell, taste, etc. unless you take the appropriate disadvantages. Specify how you do this (supernaturally, technologically, via organs on your torso, etc.). It is common – but not mandatory – for those with No Head to have No Neck, No Eyes, or both. 7 points. No Neck: You have no neck. As a result, you have no “neck” hit location, and cannot be decapitated, choked, or strangled. 5 points. No Vitals: You have no vital organs (such as a heart or engine) that attackers can target for extra damage. Treat hits to the “vitals” or “groin” as torso hits. 5 points. Unliving: Your body is not composed of living flesh. You take reduced damage from piercing and impaling attacks, but are not quite as resilient as if you were hom*ogenous; see Injury to Unliving, hom*ogenous, and Diffuse Targets (p. 380). This trait is intended mainly for machines and corporeal undead. 20 points.

Innate Attack 3 1


physical damage (for nondamaging attacks, see Affliction, p. 35, and Binding, p. 40). Examples include a dragon’s fiery breath, a robot’s built-in blaster, and a god’s ability to hurl lightning bolts. By default, this is a ranged attack with 1/2D 10, Max 100, Acc 3, RoF 1, Shots N/A, and Recoil 1, although you can apply modifiers to change these statistics (see pp. 101-116). An Innate Attack inflicts 1d damage per level. Its cost per level depends on the type of damage it inflicts:

Burning (burn) Your attack inflicts damage using flame, an energy beam, or localized electrical burns. It may ignite fires! 5 points/level.

trauma (p. 379) than other types of damage. 5 points/level.

Cutting (cut) Your attack inflicts lacerations, like those caused by an axe or broken glass. Multiply penetrating damage by 1.5. Cutting attacks can inflict blunt trauma and cause knockback. 7 points/level.

Fatigue (fat) Your attack is nonlethal. It might involve a low-amperage electric shock or a “mind blast,” or even inflict a weakening effect such as hypothermia or starvation. It reduces FP, not HP, and cannot affect machines. 10 points/level.

Alternative Attacks If you have multiple Innate Attacks, you may define them as being the same basic attack, but with different settings, ammo types, etc. Determine the cost of these “alternative attacks” as usual, but only pay full price for the most expensive attack. Buy additional attacks at 1/5 cost (round up). This can save a lot of points, but there are drawbacks. First, since the attacks represent a single ability, you cannot use them simultaneously, even if you are capable of multiple attacks. This also prevents you from combining them with the Link enhancement (p. 106). As well, any critical failure or malfunction that disables one of your attacks disables all of them. Finally, if your most expensive attack is somehow drained or neutralized, none of the cheaper attacks will work. You may also apply this rule to multiple Afflictions (p. 35) or Bindings (p. 40), or any combination of these with Innate Attacks that you cannot use simultaneously. With the GM’s permission, you can apply this rule to multipurpose Strikers (p. 88) as well.

Corrosion (cor) Your attack involves acid, disintegration, or something similar. For every 5 points of basic damage you inflict, reduce the target’s DR by 1, in addition to regular damage. (Living beings heal natural DR at the same rate as HP.) 10 points/level.

Crushing (cr) Your attack inflicts damage through blunt impact, like a bludgeoning weapon or an explosive blast. It is likely to cause knockback (p. 378), and is more effective at inflicting blunt

You have a natural or built-in attack with which you can inflict


Impaling (imp) Your attack inflicts stab wounds, like a spear or an arrow. Double penetrating damage in flesh! Impaling attacks can target the eyes and vital organs, can inflict blunt trauma, and may slip through high-tech flexible armor. 8 points/level.

Piercing Your attack involves a fast, blunt projectile, such as a bullet, or is sharp but too small to qualify as impaling, like a dart or a stinger. It may inflict blunt trauma, and can target the eyes and vital organs. There are four subclasses of piercing attack:


Small Piercing (pi-): Use this for very low-energy projectiles (e.g., blowgun darts), or for attacks that tend to punch through the target and leave a small wound channel (e.g., armorpiercing bullets). Against flesh, halve damage that penetrates DR. 3 points/level. Piercing (pi): Use this for most rifle and pistol bullets. 5 points/level. Large Piercing (pi+): Use this for attacks similar to large-caliber solid bullets, or for smaller projectiles that create large wound channels (e.g., hollow-point bullets). Multiply penetrating damage in flesh by 1.5. 6 points/level. Huge Piercing (pi++): Use this for attacks that leave an even larger wound channel than large piercing. Double penetrating damage in flesh! 8 points/level.

use Respiratory Agent (p. 108) or Contact Agent (p. 103), often with Area Effect (p. 102), Cone (p. 103), or Jet (p. 106). Attacks that depend on touch or on skin contact use Blood Agent (p. 102) or Contact Agent, plus one of Aura (p. 102) or Melee Attack (p. 112). Regardless of other modifiers, Innate Attacks are treated as ranged attacks unless given the Melee Attack limitation; then they’re considered melee weapons.

Description After applying all relevant modifiers, name and describe the attack. You can be as general as “dragon fire” or as specific as “9mm machine pistol cybernetically implanted in right arm.” At the GM’s discretion, the description can imply additional

Toxic (tox) Your attack inflicts cellular damage, in the manner of disease, poison, or radiation. It cannot normally affect machines. The modifiers Cyclic (p. 103), Onset (p. 113), and Resistible (p. 115) are usual, but not required. 4 points/level.

Partial Dice You do not have to buy wholenumbered dice of damage. Each ±1 to damage counts as ±0.3 dice. Round the final cost up. For instance, an Innate Attack that does 1d+2 damage counts as 1.6 dice. If it were crushing (5 points/die), it would cost 1.6 ¥ 5 = 8 points. Some attacks do only 1 point of damage. This counts as 0.25 dice. Once again, round cost up. Such attacks can still be deadly – especially if they involve the Follow-Up (p. 105) or Cyclic (p. 103) enhancement!

Special Modifiers Many special modifiers for Innate Attack appear under Attack Enhancements and Limitations (p. 102). You can use these to create almost any attack – built-in guns, lasers, jets of liquid fire, gale-force winds, etc. – and to duplicate the capabilities of weapons listed in GURPS books. Fatigue and toxic attacks intended to simulate poison or disease require modifiers. Noxious agents on Claws (p. 42), Teeth (p. 91), darts, etc. use Follow-Up (p. 105). Gases and sprays



noncombat abilities; for instance, a jet of high-pressure water could put out fires. The GM has the final say as to whether your description fits the campaign setting, and may modify the attack if necessary.

Insubstantiality 2/3 1

80 points

You can become intangible, passing through solid objects as though they weren’t there. In this state, gravity does not affect you – you can move in any direction at full Move (and make no noise when you move). You can perceive the tangible world, and speak normally to those within it, but you cannot pick up normal objects or affect them in any way. Physical and energy attacks cannot harm you, but you’re still vulnerable

to psionic and (nonmaterial) magical attacks. Likewise, your physical and energy attacks cannot affect physical opponents. Your psi abilities and magic spells can affect the physical world, but at -3 to all skill rolls. Although you can pass through solids, you must still breathe. When moving through a solid object, treat this as if you were swimming underwater for purposes of suffocation. You cannot materialize inside a solid object. Your “natural” form (physical or insubstantial) is considered a special effect. You must take this advantage if you can change between a physical and an insubstantial form. This trait can represent any number of abilities from folklore and fiction. You should work out its origins (see p. 33) and special effects with the GM – perhaps you “vibrate” out of synch with reality, phase into a different dimension, or become a spirit. This determines your appearance, which may be transparent, misty . . . or completely normal (but you can’t be invisible without the Invisibility advantage). Your physical and energy attacks affect other beings using the same form of Insubstantiality, and their attacks affect you. The GM may rule that certain materials, energy barriers, magic spells, etc. are impenetrable to your particular form of Insubstantiality.

Special Enhancements Affect Substantial: If you have any abilities that can affect the substantial world when you are insubstantial – including magic, psionics, or powers with the Affects Substantial enhancement (p. 102) – this advantage costs more. +100%. Can Carry Objects: Normally, you cannot carry anything while insubstantial. This enhancement lets you carry objects, including clothing and armor. They become physical if dropped. You cannot materialize these objects inside other objects or characters. No encumbrance is +10%; Light, +20%; Medium, +50%; Heavy, +100%. Partial Change: You can turn part of your body substantial while other parts remain insubstantial, or vice versa. Thus, you could reach through a wall and tap someone on the shoulder. If you also have Can Carry Objects, you can materialize your

hand, pick up material objects, and carry them while insubstantial. +20%, or +100% if you can turn an item you are carrying substantial without dropping it (this requires turning your hand substantial, too).

Special Limitations Always On: You are always insubstantial and cannot materialize. If you have this limitation, there is no -3 to use magic or psionics. -50%. Usually On: Similar to Always On, but you can materialize for short periods with great effort. Materialization costs 1 FP per second. -40%.

Intuition 2

15 points

You usually guess right. When faced with a number of alternatives, and no logical way to choose among them, you can ask the GM to let you use your Intuition. The GM makes a secret IQ roll, with a bonus equal to the number of “good” choices and a penalty equal to the number of “bad” choices. On a success, he steers you to a good choice; on a critical success, he tells you the best choice. On a failure, he gives you no information; on a critical failure, he steers you toward a bad choice. The GM can modify this as he sees fit for other situations where Intuition might logically help. Only one roll per question is allowed. The GM should never allow Intuition to short-circuit an adventure – for instance, by letting the intuitive detective walk into a room, slap the cuffs on the guilty party, and close the case. At the most, Intuition would point the detective in the direction of a good clue. GMs who don’t think they can control Intuition should not allow it in their games.

Intuitive Mathematician see Lightning Calculator, p. 66

Invisibility 2/3 1

40 points

You are invisible. Unlike most advantages, this one is “always on” unless you take a special enhancement. You still make noise, leave footprints, and have a scent – and by default, anything you carry remains visible. If you are carrying nothing, you get a +9 to Stealth in any situation where being seen would matter.


Individuals using paranormal remote viewing (crystal balls, Clairvoyance, etc.) cannot see you if you would be invisible to their normal vision. Devices with these powers can still sense you, as can paranormal abilities that detect enemies, life, and so on nonvisually. Invisibility only works against one sort of vision. Types include electromagnetic vision (which encompasses ordinary vision, Infravision, Ultravision, and radar), sonar, magnetic fields, and anything else the GM comes up with. If you are invisible to electromagnetic vision, you do not cast a shadow and don’t show up in mirrors.

Special Enhancements Affects Machines: You are invisible even to machines. You cannot be photographed, and you don’t show up on cameras or other detectors. Devices such as pressure plates still notice you, but you could walk past a robot sentry undetected. Electronically targeted weapons get no bonuses to hit you. +50%. Can Carry Objects: The objects you carry, including clothing and armor, become invisible. They regain visibility when put down. No encumbrance is +10%; Light, +20%; Medium, +50%; Heavy, +100%. Extended: You are invisible to more than one type of vision (for instance, electromagnetic vision and magnetic fields). +20% per additional type of vision. Switchable: You are normally visible, but can become invisible at will. +10%. Usually On: You are normally invisible, but can become visible for short periods with great effort. Turning visible costs 1 FP per second. +5%.

Special Limitations Machines Only: Similar to Affects Machines, but you are only invisible to machines. Living beings can see you normally. -50%. Substantial Only: Your invisibility only hides you in the material world. Insubstantial beings (ghosts, etc.) can see you normally. -10%. Visible Reflection: You can be seen in mirrors! -10%. Visible Shadow: You cast a shadow! -10%.


Jumper 2 5

100 points

You can travel through time or to parallel worlds (sometimes known as “timelines”) merely by willing the “jump.” Decide whether you are a time-jumper or a world-jumper. To do both, you must buy Jumper (Time) and Jumper (World) separately, at full cost. To initiate a jump, you must visualize your destination, concentrate for 10 seconds, and make an IQ roll. You may hurry the jump, but your roll will be at -1 per second of concentration omitted (-10 to jump with no preparation at all). Regardless of IQ, a roll of 14 or more always fails. On a success, you appear at your target destination. On a failure, you go nowhere. On a critical failure, you arrive at the wrong destination, which can be any time or world the GM wishes! You appear at your destination at exactly the same place you left your previous time or world – or as close as possible. When jumping through time, this means the same place at a different time. When jumping between worlds, this means the same place at the same time, but on a parallel world. If there is no corresponding “safe” location within 100 yards of your destination – for instance, if you jump while on an airplane to a destination with no plane at your location, or from a half-mile deep mine to a destination with no corresponding mine – the jump will fail and you will know why it failed. This does not prevent you from jumping into other types of danger, such as radiation, gunfire, or wild animals. If you have Danger Sense, the GM should roll before you make a hazardous jump; on a success, you get a warning. This ability always costs at least 1 FP to use, whether it succeeds or fails. Particularly “distant” times or worlds might cost more, perhaps up to 10 FP, at the GM’s discretion. If you are a machine, this ability does not cost you FP – but if you have passengers, each of them must pay the FP cost. For an example of how Jumper might work in a particular game world, see World-Jumpers (p. 544).

Carrying Things You can carry up to Basic Lift when you travel, plus any Payload (see


p. 74). Take the Extra Carrying Capacity enhancement (below) if you wish to carry more weight, or bring along other people. However, if multiple Jumpers of the same kind are in physical contact, when one jumps, the others can “hitch a ride” if they wish – even if the Jumper who initiates the jump does not want company. Only the person initiating the jump makes a die roll; wherever he ends up, the others do, too. If you are a world-jumper, “hitching a ride” is the only way to visit a new parallel world (save for a critical failure!). However, once you reach a world, you can memorize its “feel” by concentrating and spending character points to “learn” that world as an IQ/Easy skill. This takes one hour per point you wish to spend. Use this skill in place of IQ when you travel to that world in the future. You never have to memorize a world, but if you do not, you roll at IQ-3 to attempt to return. Time-jumpers have no similar restriction. You can improve this ability with practice, spending points to add enhancements or remove limitations. GMs who do not want the PCs jumping multiple times per adventure are free to impose mandatory limitations (e.g., Limited Use) that cannot be bought off.

Special Enhancements Extra Carrying Capacity: You can carry more than your Basic Lift. If your carrying capacity is high enough, you may transport one person with you. Light encumbrance is +10%; Medium, +20%; Heavy, +30%; ExtraHeavy, +50%. New Worlds: This is only available for world-jumpers. You can deliberately aim for worlds you haven’t visited. The IQ roll is always at -3 or worse (GM’s decision). Of course, it is always possible that the desired destination does not exist, in which case the attempt automatically fails – although the GM will not tell you why. All FP costs are doubled when using this enhancement. +50%. Omni-Jump: This is only available if you are both a world-jumper and a time-jumper! You must apply it to both Jumper advantages. This lets you move between times and timelines on


a single IQ roll – for instance, from the present day in our timeline to 1066 A.D. in a parallel timeline where the Norman invasion of England failed. +10%. Tracking: You can travel to the “home” time or world of any manmade artifact you can hold or touch. Time-jumpers will arrive shortly after the item was created; world-jumpers will arrive at the current date on the item’s home timeline. Any such attempt is at IQ-2, and each Jumper only gets one try per artifact. +20%. Tunnel: You always create a portal (of about your size) when you jump. Others may pass through it, even if they can’t jump. The portal lingers for 3d seconds, which can be good or bad – it means enemies can follow you! +40%. Warp Jump: This enhancement is only available if you have the Warp advantage (p. 97). You must apply it to both Jumper and Warp. When you jump, you can simultaneously use Warp to appear anywhere at your destination. Two die rolls are necessary – one per ability – and it is possible for one to succeed while the other fails, or for both to fail. +10%.

Special Limitations Cannot Escort: This is only available for world-jumpers. Other Jumpers cannot “hitch a ride,” even if you want to bring them along. -10%. Cannot Follow: This is only available for world-jumpers. You cannot “hitch a ride” with another Jumper. -20%. Drift: You do not arrive in exactly the location you left from. You won’t arrive in thin air or underground, but you may show up anywhere within 10 miles of your planned destination. The better your IQ roll when you jump, the closer you will be to where you wanted to arrive, but it’s the GM’s call as to exactly where you appear. -15%. Limited Jump: You can only travel a certain distance through time, or a certain number of “removes” between parallel worlds, per jump. To go further, you must make multiple hops. The GM must set the value of this limitation for his campaign; it will be more of a handicap in some settings than in others. A suggested value is -10%.

Maximum Range: You can only jump a certain total distance through time, or a certain number of “removes” between parallel worlds, no matter how many hops you make. Like Limited Jump, the GM must set the value of this limitation. Naked: You can carry nothing when you jump! You always arrive naked. -30%. Stunning: You are always mentally stunned after a jump. -10%.

Language Talent 2

10 points

You have a knack for languages. When you learn a language at a comprehension level above None, you automatically function at the next-highest level; thus, you can purchase a language at Accented level for 2 points or at Native level for 4 points. For full language rules, see Language (p. 23).

Legal Enforcement Powers 4

5, 10, or 15 points

You are a law enforcer, with the accompanying powers and restrictions. In some times and places, this amounts to a license to kill. In others, it’s little more than the right to carry a badge and write parking tickets. The point cost depends on the kinds of laws you enforce, the size of your jurisdiction, how answerable you are for your actions, and the degree of respect you must show for the civil rights of others: • You have local jurisdiction, the ability to arrest suspected criminals, the power to perform searches with an appropriate warrant, and possibly the right to carry a concealed weapon. Examples: a Victorian bobby or a modern policeman. 5 points. • As above, but you also have national or international jurisdiction, or are not obligated to respect the civil rights of others, or are free to engage in covert investigations, or may kill with relative impunity. Examples: an FBI agent or a medieval Royal Guardsman. 10 points.

• You have three or more of the above abilities. Examples: a Gestapo, KGB, or Stasi agent. 15 points. Legal Enforcement Powers almost always require an appropriate Duty (p. 133). In some cases, a Reputation (positive, negative, or mixed) is also appropriate. All levels of Legal Enforcement Powers include Police Rank 0 (see p. 30). To become a senior law enforcer, buy more Rank.

Legal Immunity 4

5 to 20 points

You are exempt from some or all of the laws of your society. Should you break the law, ordinary law enforcers do not have the power to charge you. Only one particular authority – your own church or social class, a special court, perhaps even your ruler – can judge or punish you. The point cost depends on how sweeping the immunity is (GM’s judgment): • You are not subject to ordinary laws, but the rules that govern your behavior are just as strict. Examples: a medieval abbot or a modern UN observer. 5 points. • As above, but the laws that apply to you are less strict than those that apply to most people. Example: a medieval bard (see below). 10 points. • You can do nearly anything you please provided you don’t injure the nation, church, or other power that granted you Legal Immunity in the first place. Examples: a medieval duke or an international diplomat (see below). 15 points. For an extra 5 points, you may add “diplomatic pouch” privileges: you can send and receive mail or objects that the ordinary authorities cannot legally stop or examine. Two classes of Legal Immunity are of special interest to adventurers: Bardic Immunity: You have the right to sing what you please without fear of serious consequences. You may even sing a grossly insulting song to the king – you might get banished for


it, but you can’t be whipped, imprisoned, or killed. Anyone who violates your immunity risks damage to his name and reputation. Other bards will compose and distribute vicious satires about him, giving him a bad Reputation. They might even expose a Secret, if he has one! This advantage applies to the content of your performances and nothing else. It is only available to true bards, in fantasy/medieval settings. To qualify for this advantage, you must spend at least 1 point apiece on the Performance, Poetry, and Singing skills. 10 points. Diplomatic Immunity: You are an international diplomat. You may ignore the laws of all countries except your own. While abroad, you cannot be prosecuted for any crime, no matter how grave; the local police may arrest you, but they cannot press charges. The only recourse for a foreign government is to declare you persona non grata. This means you must leave the country at once, ending your current assignment – and possibly your career. Foreign powers may request your extradition for normal prosecution, but your government is unlikely to comply. This trait always comes with a Duty (p. 133) to a government agency, and often has some level of Administrative Rank (p. 30) as a prerequisite. 20 points.

Less Sleep 3

2 points/level

You need less sleep than most people. A normal human requires 8 hours of sleep per night. Each level of this advantage – to a maximum of four levels – lets you get by with one hour less than this, giving you a few extra hours each day in which to study or work on other projects.

Lifting ST 3 1

3 points per +1 ST

You have lifting capacity out of proportion to your mass. This is common for vehicles and supers. Add your Lifting ST to your ordinary ST when you determine Basic Lift (p. 15) for the purposes of carrying, lifting, pushing, and pulling. Lifting ST also adds to ST in situations where you can apply slow, steady pressure (grappling, choking,


etc.). Lifting ST does not boost ST (or Basic Lift) for the purpose of determining HP, throwing distance, or damage inflicted by melee attacks or thrown weapons. If you bought your ST with the Size limitation, apply the same limitation to Lifting ST. The No Fine Manipulators limitation does not give a discount, however.

Lightning Calculator 2

2 or 5 points

You have the ability to do math in your head, instantly. This talent comes in two levels: Lightning Calculator: You, the player, may use a calculator at any time, to figure anything you want – even if your character is fleeing for his life! For simple math problems, the GM may just say that your character knows the answer. 2 points. Intuitive Mathematician: As above, but your ability is not limited to arithmetic. You can perform astrogation without a computer, do any level of engineering design in your head, and solve differential equations almost instantaneously. You never need a calculator; you yourself are far faster than that, and even faster than many computers. 5 points. True mathematical geniuses will have one of the above traits and one or more levels of Mathematical Ability (see Talent, p. 89).

Longevity 3

2 points

Your lifespan is naturally very long. You fail aging rolls (see p. 444) only on a 17 or 18 – or only on an 18, if your modified HT is 17 or better!

Luck 2


You were born lucky! There are three progressively more “cinematic” levels of Luck: Luck: Once per hour of play, you may reroll a single bad die roll twice and take the best of the three rolls! You must declare that you are using your Luck immediately after you roll the dice. Once you or anyone else has made another die roll, it is too late to use Luck. If the GM is rolling in secret


(e.g., to see if you notice something), you may tell him you are using your Luck ahead of time, and he must roll three times and give you the best result. 15 points. Extraordinary Luck: As above, but usable every 30 minutes. 30 points. Ridiculous Luck: As above, but usable every 10 minutes! 60 points. Your Luck only applies to your own success, damage, or reaction rolls, or on outside events that affect you or your whole party, or when you are being attacked (in which case you may make the attacker roll three times and take the worst roll!). You cannot share Luck. If Strong Sam is trying to kick open a door, Lucky Lou can’t stand behind him and transfer his Luck. He’ll have to kick that door himself. Once you use Luck, you must wait an hour of real time (30 minutes for Extraordinary Luck, 10 minutes for Ridiculous Luck) before using it again. You cannot use Luck at 11:58 and then again at 12:01. And you cannot save up Luck. You cannot play for hours without using Luck and then use it several times in a row!

Special Limitations Active: Your Luck is a conscious supernatural power. You must declare that you are using it before you roll the dice. It cannot be used “after the fact” to reroll a bad result. -40%. Aspected: Your Luck applies only to one specific class of related tasks, such as athletics, social interactions, or skills you use at your job. “Combat” is a valid choice, but it only affects weapon skill rolls, active defenses, and ST or DX rolls for close combat – not DX rolls to avoid tripping, HT rolls to survive, etc. -20%. Defensive: You can only use your Luck to reroll failed active defense rolls, resistance rolls, or HT rolls to resist the effects of injury, or to make an opponent reroll a critical hit against you. -20%.

Magery 2 5

5 points for Magery 0, +10 points/level

You are magically adept. This advantage comes in levels. You must purchase Magery 0 before buying higher levels of Magery.


Magery 0: This is basic “magical awareness,” a prerequisite for learning magic in most worlds. The GM makes a Sense roll (p. 358) when you first see a magic item, and again when you first touch it. On a success, you intuitively know that the item is magical. A roll of 3 or 4 also tells you whether the magic is helpful or dangerous, and about how strong it is. Those without Magery do not get this roll! 5 points. Magery 1+: Higher levels of Magery make it much easier to learn and use magic. Add your Magery to IQ when you learn spells. For instance, if you have IQ 14, Magery 3 lets you learn spells as if you had IQ 17. Add your Magery level to Perception when you roll to sense magic items, and to IQ when you learn Thaumatology skill (p. 225). Reduce the time required to learn new spells in play (but not the point cost) by 10% per Magery level, to a minimum of 60% of the usual time at Magery 4. For instance, with Magery 3, you would learn spells in 70% the usual time. Powerful spells require a minimum level of Magery as a prerequisite, so be sure to skim the Spell List (pp. 242253) when deciding how much Magery you need. Note that high Magery lets you produce powerful results with even the most basic spells; see Magery and Effect (p. 237). The GM sets the maximum Magery allowed to PCs. Magery 3 is about right for “classic fantasy.” 10 points/level (on top of the 5 points for Magery 0).

Mages in Nonmagical Settings The use of Magery becomes tricky in nonmagical backgrounds. You still have the ability to sense magic, but until you gain experience with magic, the GM should not say, “That idol is magical,” but, “That idol looks very strange to you, very sinister. You sense there is something special about it.” If you are from a nonmagical culture, you do not start with any spells, but you can still learn magic if you find an opportunity. When you enter a magical world, those who can detect your aura recognize you as a potential magic-user. How they react depends on the setting. Magery 0 costs 5 points for all mages, but you may apply one of the

limitations below to the 10 points/level for Magery 1+. Limited Magery is sometimes known as “aspected Magery.”

Special Limitations Dance: You must be free to use bodily motions in order to cast spells. You are not freed from rituals requiring movement as your spell level increases (see Magic Rituals, p. 237). However, you need not speak at all to cast your spells. -40%. Dark-Aspected: You can only use your powers in darkness. Regardless of the time of day or night, any light greater than candlelight or starlight deprives you of your abilities, though your aura reveals that you are a mage. -50%. Day-Aspected: You can use your powers only when the sun is in the sky – on average, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. During solar eclipses, you have no powers! The effects of other astronomical events are up to the GM. When the sun is down, you have none of your magical abilities, although a look at your aura reveals that you are a mage. You are not affected by being in buildings, underground, and so on; only the sun’s position matters. You know automatically (if you are awake) when it is one minute to sunrise and one minute to sunset. -40%.

when it is one minute to sunrise and one minute to sunset. -40%. One College Only: Your Magery only benefits the spells of a single college and the Recover Energy spell (p. 248). You learn other spells as though you were a nonmage, and can only cast them in high-mana areas. You may still count such spells as prerequisites for spells in your own college. You cannot detect magic items unless they contain at least one spell of your college, in which case you roll normally for detection on first sight and first touch. -40%. Solitary: Your magical abilities are at -3 for every sapient being within five yards of you, and -6 for anyone touching you. As partial compensation, you get a roll vs. IQ to notice any time a sapient creature enters or leaves the five-yard area around you – but this only works on a single person. If there is already someone standing next to you, you won’t notice if someone else approaches. -40%. Song: You must be able to sing in order to cast your spells. You are not freed from the ritual of speaking to cast spells as your spell level increases (see Magic Rituals, p. 237). -40%.

Special Enhancements Improved: You Magic Resistance does not interfere with your own ability to cast spells. This allows you to possess both Magery and Magic Resistance. +150%.

Mana Damper 2 5

10 points/level

Magic Resistance, and its precise level, can be recognized by any mage who looks at your aura, or by anyone who casts a spell on you. If you have even one level of Magic Resistance, you can’t cast spells at all. Musical: You must use a musical instrument in order to cast spells. You can never cast spells silently. -50%. Night-Aspected: You can only use your powers when the sun is not in the sky – on average, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. When the sun is up, you have none of your magical abilities, although a look at your aura reveals that you are a mage. You are not affected by being in buildings, underground, and so on; only the sun’s position matters. You know automatically (if you are awake)

to let friendly wizards cast spells on you (e.g., to heal you) or to benefit from helpful elixirs! Magic Resistance only interferes with spells cast directly on you. It provides no benefit against Missile spells (which are cast on the wizard’s hand and hurled at you), attacks by magic weapons, or informationgathering spells that aren’t cast directly on you. It also has no effect on supernatural powers other than magic; e.g., divine miracles, psionics, or the innate powers of spirits. Magic Resistance, and its precise level, can be recognized by any mage who looks at your aura, or by anyone who casts a spell on you. You cannot combine Magic Resistance with Magery. If you have even one level of Magic Resistance, you can’t cast spells at all (although you can still use magic weapons).

Magic Resistance 2 5

2 points/level

You are less likely to be affected by magic. Subtract your Magic Resistance from the skill of anyone casting a spell on you, and add it to your roll to resist any spell that offers a resistance roll. For instance, if you have Magic Resistance 3, wizards have -3 to cast spells on you and you get +3 to resist. In addition, you may roll against HT + Magic Resistance to resist the effects of magical elixirs. You cannot “turn off” this advantage


You negate magical energy (“mana”) in your vicinity, making it difficult or impossible for others to cast spells. You can never cast spells yourself, nor can you have any level of Magery. Each level of Mana Damper (to a maximum of three) reduces the local mana level by one step, but only for you and people or things that you’re carrying. For instance, a wizard could throw a fireball at you unhindered, but he would find it difficult to use magic to turn you to stone or read your mind. For details, see Mana (p. 235).

Special Enhancements Area Effect: Your ability affects everything in an area centered on you. The first level of Area Effect gives you a radius of one yard. Each level after the first doubles this radius as usual; see Area Effect (p. 102). +50%/level. Switchable: You can switch this power off – for instance, to let a friendly wizard affect you or operate within your area of effect. +100%.


Mana Enhancer 2 5

50 points/level

You radiate magical energy, or “mana.” Each level of Mana Enhancer (to a maximum of two) increases the local mana level by one step, but only for you and people or things that you’re carrying. If more than one character with Mana Enhancer could increase the mana level, apply only the highest increase; do not add the effects together. This ability does not directly confer the ability to cast spells; for that, take Magery (p. 66). However, if you can raise the mana level to “high” or better, you can cast many spells without Magery! For details, see Mana (p. 235). This ability has its drawbacks: you cannot have Magic Resistance, and mages get an IQ + Magery roll to sense that you possess this trait. In some game worlds, this combination may force you to hide from unethical wizards! The GM should keep this trait under strict control, as it is powerful and easily abused in fantasy settings.

Special Enhancements Area Effect: Your ability affects everything in an area centered on you. The first level of Area Effect gives you a radius of one yard. Each level after the first doubles this radius as usual; see Area Effect (p. 102). +50%/level. Switchable: You can switch this power off in order to deprive enemy wizards of its benefits (or simply to hide from them!). +100%.

Mathematical Ability see Talent, p. 89

Medium 2 5

10 points

You can perceive and communicate with spirits – particularly spirits of the dead. You don’t see them visually, but you know when they’re nearby. You can speak with any spirit in your presence, provided you share a language. You can also call spirits to you; there is no guarantee that they will answer your summons, but they will hear it. Note that this trait does not give you a reaction bonus with spirits, or any power to control their behavior.


Merchant Rank see Rank, p. 29

Metabolism Control 31

5 points/level

You can control normally involuntary biological functions such as pulse, blood flow, digestion, and respiration. Each level of Metabolism Control gives +1 on any HT roll that would benefit from such control (GM’s decision), including bleeding rolls (see Bleeding, p. 420) and rolls to recover from (not resist) disease and poison. You can also enter a deathlike trance. Anyone unfamiliar with your metabolism must win a Quick Contest of Diagnosis vs. your HT + Metabolism Control to discover that you aren’t dead. In this state, each level of Metabolism Control reduces by 10% the amount of oxygen you need to stay alive (at level 10 or higher, you don’t breathe at all), and doubles the amount of time you can safely go without food or water. You are unaware of your surroundings while in your trance, but awaken automatically if injured. You may also set a mental “alarm clock” to awaken you after a certain amount of time has passed. This ability is incompatible with the Machine meta-trait (see p. 263).

Special Limitations Hibernation: You can only use the trance ability, and get no bonus to HT rolls. Furthermore, you automatically enter a trance when exposed to certain environmental conditions – great cold, drought, etc. Work this out with the GM. In such conditions, you must make a Will roll to avoid hibernation. You can induce hibernation voluntarily. To do so, roll vs. Will-4 hourly until you succeed. You cannot set a precise “wake up” time. Set a duration, then multiply by (2d+3)/10. -60%.

Microscopic Vision 3 1

5 points/level

You can see details that would normally be invisible without a magnifying glass or a microscope. Each level increases magnification by a factor of 10: 5 points gives 10¥, 10 points gives


100¥, and so on. This magnification only applies to objects within 1 foot. Level 1 suffices for ordinary forensic investigation. Level 3 (1,000¥) is equivalent to the best optical microscopes. Level 5 (100,000¥) is comparable to an electron microscope, capable of imaging viruses. Level 6 (1,000,000¥) is on par with a scanning-tunneling or atomic force microscope, and can study an object’s atomic structure.

Military Rank see Rank, p. 29

Mimicry 2 1

10 points

You can duplicate any simple sound (alarm, gunshot, etc.) by listening to it for one second and making a successful IQ roll. You can also imitate voices by spending at least 10 seconds listening to them – live, recorded, or remotely – and making an IQ roll. This trait gives you no special ability to stun or deafen others with loud sounds, or to speak unpronounceable magic words. Buy any such capabilities separately.

Mind Control 2 1

50 points

You can mentally dominate those you can see or touch. To use this ability, concentrate for one second and then roll a Quick Contest: your IQ vs. your subject’s Will. Modifiers: Range penalties to the subject (see p. 550); -1 per slave already under your control; +2 if you concentrate for a full minute, or +4 if you concentrate for a full hour. If you win, your victim will obey your every command until you free him. In effect, he temporarily gains the Reprogrammable disadvantage (p. 150), with you as his master. Your control persists for as long as you take uninterrupted Concentrate maneuvers. Once you stop, your control lingers for one minute per point by which you won the Quick Contest. (To increase this, add Extended Duration, p. 105.) If you are incapacitated (stunned, knocked out, etc.), or attempt to force the subject to act against his principles (e.g., commit suicide or harm a loved one), roll

another Quick Contest. If your victim wins, he breaks free. Roll at the moment of truth – you can march him to the edge of a cliff, but he doesn’t roll until he’s about to leap. If you lose, you cannot attempt to control that subject again for 24 hours, and he feels a sense of mental coercion emanating from you. On a critical failure, you also lose control of anyone else under the influence of this ability! Mind Control often has limitations: Accessibility (Only on opposite sex), Sense-Based (for hypnotic voices, eyes, scents, etc.), and so on. It may also have attack modifiers, subject to the restrictions that apply to attacks with Malediction (p. 106). Finally, you may apply the Cybernetic and Cybernetic Only modifiers from Mind Reading (see below).

Special Enhancements Conditioning: You can reconstruct the subject’s psyche and implant suggestions. In effect, you can add or remove any mundane mental disadvantage. Add Delusions for false memories, or Amnesia to wipe memories. Your victim must be under your control, cooperative, and conscious. Roll a second Quick Contest. You are at -1 per full -5 points of disadvantages changed, but you may substitute Brainwashing skill (p. 182) for IQ. Duration in days is equal to your margin of victory. If you win and roll a critical success, the conditioning is permanent! A conditioned subject who is no longer under your direct control imposes no penalty on the use of Mind Control on others. Note that another person with this ability can use it to undo your work. +50%. No Memory: Your victims have no memory of anything that occurred while under your control. +10%.

Special Limitations Conditioning Only: You cannot use regular Mind Control – only Conditioning (above). Uncooperative victims must be restrained before you can use your ability. -50%. Puppet: Your victims have no initiative while under your control, and temporarily acquire Slave Mentality (p. 154). -40%. Telepathic: Your ability is part of the Telepathy psi power (see p. 257). -10%.

Mind Probe 2 1

20 points

You can perform a deep “mind probe.” In effect, you can force the subject to answer any one specific question that he can answer with a brief sentence. To attempt a probe, you must first either touch your subject or successfully read his mind with Mind Reading (below). You must also share a language with him. To use Mind Probe, you must concentrate for one second and roll a Quick Contest of your IQ (or Interrogation skill, if higher) vs. your subject’s Will. If you win, you rip the answer from his mind. The answer is what the subject believes to be true – if he doesn’t know, he’ll tell you. If you lose, you may try again, at a cumulative -2 per repeated attempt to ask the same (or very similar) question in the past hour. Should you critically fail, you cannot probe that person again for 24 hours. You may use Mind Probe to ask as many questions as you wish, but each question is a new use of your ability, and requires a second of concentration and its own Quick Contest.

understand the language, or if your subject isn’t sapient, you only pick up feelings, images, and general intent. You can maintain Mind Reading for as long as you wish without further concentration. If you switch to another person, you must stop reading your current subject and roll a Quick Contest with the new subject. To read multiple subjects at once, take Compartmentalized Mind (p. 43). If you lose, you may try again, at a cumulative -2 per repeated attempt on that subject in the past hour. Should you critically fail, you cannot read that person again for 24 hours. Mind Reading is often psionic in origin, but it is just as likely to be a magical, divine, or even technological ability. The Sense-Based limitation (p. 115) – especially Touch-Based – is common. If you take Hearing-Based, you can only read the thoughts of someone whose words you can hear, but can function as a “truthreader” or (with Universal) a “universal translator.”

You can “hear” everything the subject says, subvocalizes, or actively thinks about.

Special Enhancements

Special Modifiers The special enhancements and limitations given for Mind Reading (below) are also available for Mind Probe.

Mind Reading 2 1

30 points

You can eavesdrop on others’ surface thoughts. You must be able to see or touch the subject to affect him. Concentrate for one second and roll a Quick Contest of IQ vs. the subject’s Will. Modify the roll for range penalties to the subject (see p. 550). If you win, you can “hear” everything the subject says, subvocalizes, or actively thinks about as a voice in your head. Received thought comes at the speed of speech. If you do not


Cybernetic: You can affect entities with the Digital Mind trait (p. 48), including all ordinary computers. Your IQ roll has a penalty equal to the system’s Complexity. A nonsentient system does not resist; just roll vs. IQ Complexity to succeed. +50%. Sensory: You can also tap into your subject’s senses. This lets you experience everything he experiences. If he is tortured, knocked out, or killed, the GM may require a Will roll to avoid stunning – or perhaps even a Fright Check! +20%. Universal: You automatically understand thoughts, even those of nonsapient subjects and those with whom you do not share a language. +50%.


Special Limitations Cybernetic Only: As for Cybernetic, but you can only read Digital Minds. -50%. Racial: Your ability only works on those of your own race or a very similar race (for instance, humans are similar to elves, but not to dogs or trolls). Combine this with the Sense-Based limitation (Touch or Scent) to represent a race that can share

thoughts through biochemical means. -20%. Sensory Only: As for Sensory, but you can’t read thoughts at all. -20%. Telecommunication: Your ability only works on those with whom you are presently in contact via Telecommunication (p. 91). -20%. Telepathic: Your ability is part of the Telepathy psi power (see p. 257). -10%.

Mind Shield 2 1

4 points/level

You have a “shield” that warns you of and defends against mental attacks. Add your Mind Shield level to IQ or Will whenever you resist an advantage with the Telepathic limitation (see Chapter 6) and whenever you resist a spell listed under Communication and Empathy Spells (p. 245) or Mind Control Spells (p. 250). Your shield also resists attempts to locate your mind using magic or psionics. Such abilities must win a Quick Contest against your Will + Mind Shield level to find you. You may voluntarily lower your Mind Shield if you wish – for instance, to let a friend read your mind. Lowering or raising your shield is a free action, but it must take place at the start of your turn. Mind Shield does protect you while you are asleep or unconscious, unless you fell asleep or were knocked out while your shield was voluntarily lowered.

Special Limitations Cybernetic: Your shield protects against computer-related attacks – e.g., the “Digital” form of Possession and the “Cybernetic” form of Mind Probe or Mind Reading – instead of magic and psi. This limitation is only available to those with Digital Mind (p. 48). -50%. Telepathic: Your ability is part of the Telepathy psi power (see p. 257). -10%.

Mindlink 2 5


You have a permanent telepathic rapport with someone – often a twin, loved one, hive member, etc. You automatically succeed at all attempts to contact him with Telesend (see Telecommunication, p. 91) and Mind Reading (p. 69), provided he chooses not to resist or has Slave Mentality. Mindlink does not allow automatic contact across interstellar distances (more than 0.1 light-year), nor can it reach other dimensions, parallel worlds, etc. Mindlink costs 5 points for a single person, 10 points for 2-9 people, 20 points for 10-99 people, 30 points for 100-999 people, and so on – add 10 points per tenfold increase in the number of people.



As a rule, the GM should only permit PCs to buy Mindlinks with Allies, Contacts, and Dependents; duplicates (see Duplication, p. 50); and other PCs (if their players permit).

Special Modifiers You may give Mindlink the same modifiers as your Mind Reading or Telesend advantage. In most cases, the GM should require this.

Modular Abilities 2/3 1


You have a pool of character points that you can reallocate under certain conditions. You may rearrange these points to add a skill (spell, technique, etc.) or mental advantage temporarily – or to improve such a trait, if you already have it. When you do, you lose any abilities to which those points were previously assigned. This advantage comes in “slots.” A slot can hold one skill or mental advantage at a time. Each slot has a fixed base cost, plus a cost per point in the pool for that slot. Both costs depend on the type of Modular Abilities you have. Computer Brain: Your abilities are actually computer programs. The GM decides whether a program exists for a given ability. If you have Telecommunication (p. 91), you may download programs, usually from a network. How long this takes depends on the speed of data transfer in the setting – a second per character point works well. In some worlds, you must pay for such programs; $100 per character point is typical. Cost per slot: 6 points base + 4 points per point of abilities. Chip Slots: As above, but the programs come on physical chips that you must plug into a socket – usually in your skull. It takes three seconds to insert or remove a chip. Chips typically have negligible weight, but cost $100 to $1,000 per point of abilities. Cost per slot: 5 points base + 3 points per point of abilities. Super-Memorization: You gain new abilities through rapid study. This takes a second per character point. You can “forget” a memorized ability instantly. You can only memorize abilities if you have a suitable reference work (book, film, tape, etc.). The GM

determines the cash cost of such works. Cost per slot: 5 points base + 3 points per point of abilities. Cosmic Power: You simply wish new abilities into being. This takes one second per ability. Unlike other Modular Abilities, you only ever have one “slot,” and can rearrange your points into as many or as few abilities as you wish, to the limit of your advantage. 10 points per point of abilities. Example: Alex buys two Chip Slots at a base cost of 5 points/slot. This costs 10 points. One slot can hold a chip with a single ability worth up to 2 points, and costs 6 points. The other can hold up to 5 points, and costs 15 points. Total cost is 31 points. This appears on Alex’s character sheet as “Chip Slots 2 (2, 5).” Alex will have to buy, borrow, or steal the chips he uses – but he need not pay character points for them. Use Preparation Required (p. 114) to increase the time needed to rearrange your points, and Limited Use (p. 112) to represent an ability that you forget immediately after using it.

Special Enhancements Physical: Your ability is not limited to skills and mental advantages. +50% for physical advantages only, or +100% for any mental or physical ability.

Special Limitations Spells Only: Your ability only works with magic spells, which must usually be “memorized” from a grimoire. This is mutually exclusive with Physical. -20%. Virtual: The abilities gained only apply in virtual reality, astral space, or another limited realm. -50%.

Musical Ability see Talent, p. 89

Neutralize 2 1

50 points

You can neutralize the psi powers of a single psionic individual. This is an active ability with an ongoing effect on the subject. It does not have to be psionic – it might represent a magical or high-tech way to drain psi abilities.


To use Neutralize, you must touch the subject (requires an Attack maneuver) and win a Quick Contest of Will. If you succeed, you successfully neutralize all your victim’s psionic powers (see Chapter 6) for a number of minutes equal to your margin of victory. This has no effect on the subject’s psionic Talents. Once you have neutralized someone, you cannot affect him again until his power recovers. A critical failure with this ability cripples it for 1d hours.

Special Enhancements Power Theft: When you successfully neutralize a psi, you acquire his powers! You gain all the psionic abilities you neutralized – including their enhancements and limitations – for the duration. You can’t use Neutralize again until these powers wear off. +200%.

Special Limitations One Power: You can only neutralize a specific psionic power; e.g., ESP or Telepathy. See Chapter 6 for a list of standard psi powers. -50%.

Nictitating Membrane 31

1 point/level

You have a transparent lens over your eyes that you can open and close like an eyelid. This lets you see normally underwater, and protects your eyes from sand, irritants, etc. Each level of Nictitating Membrane provides your eyes (only) with DR 1 and adds +1 to all HT rolls concerned with eye damage.

Night Vision 3

1 point/level

Your eyes adapt rapidly to darkness. Each level of this ability (maximum nine levels) allows you to ignore -1 in combat or vision penalties due to darkness, provided there is at least some light. Example: Night Vision 4 would completely eliminate darkness penalties up to -4, and would reduce a penalty of -7 to only -3. Regardless of level, Night Vision only works in partial darkness. It has no effect on the -10 for total darkness (for that, get Dark Vision, p. 47).


Obscure 3 1

2 points/level

You produce an effect that actively “jams” one particular sense, making it difficult to detect you and everything in your vicinity. You must specify the affected sense. This can be one of the five human senses or a sensory advantage such as Infravision, Radar, or one particular Detect. Examples include Obscure (Vision) for fog, Obscure (Hearing) for white noise, and Obscure (Radar) for electronic jamming. Obscure affects a two-yard radius centered on you. Add the Area Effect enhancement (p. 102) to increase this radius. The affected sense is at -1 per level of Obscure to detect anything within your radius. Ten levels will block the sense completely. The boundaries of the zone are easily detected by the affected sense, however; roll at +1 per level.

Special Enhancements Defensive: You are unaffected by your own Obscure ability. +50%. Extended: Each related sense (Infravision as well as normal vision, Sonar as well as normal hearing, etc.) blocked beyond the first is +20%. Ranged: You produce your obscuring effect at a distant point rather than around your body. This is a ranged attack with 1/2D –, Max 100, Acc 3, RoF 1, Shots N/A, and Recoil 1. Duration is 10 seconds. You can apply other modifiers to change these statistics. Unlike the usual Ranged enhancement (p. 107), this modifier lets you use your ability again before its duration has expired (e.g., to simulate multiple smoke grenades); thus, it is more expensive. +50%. Stealthy: Your ability works invisibly, like a magical zone of silence. There is no bonus to detect the boundaries of your area of effect. +100%.

Special Limitations Always On: You cannot turn this ability off. -50%.

Oracle 2 5

15 points

You are sensitive to omens, and see hidden significance in such things as the way plants grow, the behavior of animals, and even changes in the weather and the sky. Once per day, you may check the omens. This normally


requires at least an hour, but if the GM has something in particular he wants to communicate, he may arbitrarily put it in your path. The GM rolls twice, in secret, when you use this ability: once to determine whether you discover the omen, once to see if you interpret it correctly. Discovery: To detect an omen requires a Sense roll. On a success, you discover the omen; on a critical success, you get +5 on the subsequent interpretation roll. On a failure, you find nothing of oracular significance. On a critical failure, the GM lies – he tells you that you have found an omen, but this is, in reality, a product of your own fears or wishes.

Patrons 4


A “Patron” is an NPC – or even an entire organization – that serves as your advisor, employer, mentor, or protector. An employer must be exceptional to qualify as a Patron, though; a Patron is much more than an ordinary boss!

Power The base point cost of a Patron depends on its power. Use the categories below as a guide, but note that some Patrons won’t fit neatly into any of them. The GM’s word is final.

You can move your consciousness from body to body. In theory, you could live forever this way . . . however, you cannot survive outside a living host. Interpretation: To interpret an omen requires an IQ roll. On a success, the omen is very general; e.g., “an enemy approaches” or “a great power, long dormant, is stirring.” On a critical success, the information is more specific: “you risk the wrath of the king,” “seek out the mage in the tower,” etc. On a failure, the omen is simply too vague to be useful. On a critical failure, you blatantly misinterpret the omen – possibly in a dangerous manner. This ability differs from Precognition (p. 77), which requires no interpretation.

Outdoorsman see Talent, p. 89

Parabolic Hearing 3 1

4 points/level

You can “zoom in” on a particular sound or area, and can filter out background noise from sounds of interest to you. Each level of Parabolic Hearing doubles the distance at which you can clearly hear any given sound (see Hearing, p. 358).


A powerful individual (usually built on at least 150% of the PC’s starting points) or a fairly powerful organization (assets of at least 1,000 times starting wealth for the world). 10 points. An extremely powerful individual (built on at least twice the PC’s starting points) or a powerful organization (assets of at least 10,000 times starting wealth). Examples: a limited manifestation of a minor god, a billionaire, or a big-city police department. 15 points. An ultra-powerful individual (built on as many points as the GM wants!) or a very powerful organization (assets of at least 100,000 times starting wealth). Examples: a super, a limited manifestation of a major god, or a big city. 20 points. An extremely powerful organization (assets of at least 1 million times starting wealth). Examples: a large corporation or a very small nation. 25 points. A national government or giant multinational organization (net worth basically incalculable), or a true god who appears personally to intervene on your behalf. 30 points.

Note that the base cost to have a deity as a Patron is comparable to that for a powerful mundane Patron, but divine power requires the Special Abilities enhancement (see below), which will greatly increase the final cost of a divine Patron!

Frequency of Appearance Choose a frequency of appearance, as explained under Frequency of Appearance (p. 36). If the GM determines that your Patron appears at the start of an adventure, he may design the adventure to include an assignment or aid from the Patron. He may also choose to leave out your Patron, if its appearance would make no sense or disrupt the adventure. However, if the GM determined that your Patron could have appeared, and you try to contact your Patron during the adventure (for help, advice, etc.), then the contact is likely to be successful and you may receive aid. (Within reason – if you’re locked in a dungeon without any means of communication, you won’t be contacting anybody.) You will not know whether your Patron is “available” on a given adventure until you attempt to request aid. As a rule, you should only be able to reach your Patron for help once per adventure. Remember that a powerful Patron could be helpful without actually intervening! A Chicago hood who can say, “I’m from Big Eddie,” or a crimefighter who can flash a Q-clearance card, may carry some extra weight in a tough spot.

Party Patrons Often, several PCs – perhaps the entire party – share a Patron (they are all agents of the same government, servants of the same cult, etc.). No matter how many characters share a Patron, the cost is not shared; each character must pay full price for the Patron. On the other hand, the GM will make an appearance roll for each character at the start of each adventure – and if the Patron appears for any of them, then it is usually available for all of them. The GM should scale the quality and quantity of the aid provided in proportion to the number of successful appearance rolls.

Drawbacks of Patrons If your Patron is an army, corporation, feudal lord, etc., you may owe it a Duty (p. 133). A god or similar Patron may require a stringent code of behavior in return for its aid; see SelfImposed Mental Disadvantages (p. 121). A Patron might also have powerful foes that are now your foes; this can give you an Enemy (p. 135). Such factors can cut the effective cost of a Patron significantly, and turn it from a benefit to a considerable liability!

Employers and Patrons Not every employer is a Patron. If you can depend on your employer to get you out of trouble (at least sometimes), it might really be a Patron. Otherwise, it’s just a job. For example, a small police department is a 10point Patron if, as most do, it takes care of its own. But the U.S. Army, though powerful, is not a likely Patron – at least for an ordinary trooper. You could say, “The Colonel takes care of his men.” But you could just as easily say, “I’m on my own if I get in trouble,” and play a soldier who does not have a Patron.

Examples of Patrons • A powerful wizard as Patron to warriors (or young wizards) whom he sends to find magical items or slay foes. • A crime lord as Patron to freelance thieves or assassins. • A minor deity as Patron to a traveling Righter of Wrongs. • A local police department as Patron to a private detective. (They might find him annoying at times, but he helps them out, and vice versa.) • A local ruler (in any world) as Patron to an adventurer. • A large company as Patron to a troubleshooter or spy. • A super-crimefighter or politician as Patron to a news reporter. • Any intelligence organization as occasional Patron to a freelance operative, or full-time Patron to its own agents. (The difference between this and ordinary jobs is that you can’t quit . . .) You can apply the following modifiers after multiplying for frequency of appearance.

Special Enhancements Equipment: Your Patron supplies useful equipment that you can use for


your own purposes, and that you would otherwise have to buy. This enhancement only applies if the equipment is yours once given. A soldier with a military Patron would not pay extra for his weapons, since when he goes off duty, he can’t take them along. An adventurer in the employ of a generous noble who hands out useful “gifts” would pay extra. +50% if the equipment is worth no more than the average starting wealth in the campaign, or +100% if it is worth more than that. Highly Accessible: You can attempt to contact your Patron at any time – even when you are locked in a dungeon, lost in the desert, etc. This is most appropriate if your Patron is a spirit, a god you can petition via prayer, etc. +50%. Special Abilities: Your Patron wields power out of proportion to its wealth or point value. +50% if your Patron has extensive social or political power (e.g., the Governor of New York or the Pope), or +100% if your Patron has magical powers in a nonmagical world, possesses equipment from a TL greater than yours, grants you special powers, or has unusual reach in time or space (e.g., a super, spirit, or god).

Special Limitations Minimal Intervention: Your Patron is less useful than its power level would suggest. On a successful appearance roll, the GM makes a reaction roll for your Patron to determine whether it actually provides aid; see Requests for Aid (p. 562). On a Neutral or better reaction, you receive the aid your Patron thinks you need – which may or may not be what you want. This is the classic modifier for gods who have many other minions to aid, and frequently accompanies the Pact limitation (see p. 113). -50%. Secret: Your Patron works behind the scenes. You do not know who it is and you cannot request aid directly. You might be able to call for help in such a way that the Patron gets the message (GM’s decision), but there is no guarantee that the Patron will take action. The only evidence of this kind of Patron is minor incidents and “lucky breaks.” This may take the form of information, equipment, or even direct aid . . . but only when it suits the Patron, and always in an untraceable way. A Patron like this often regards its


aid as an investment on which it expects some return; therefore, it might not have your best interests at heart! Only the GM knows any of these details. You know nothing other than the fact that you have a Patron. -50%. Unwilling: You obtained your Patron through coercion (e.g., blackmail). It provides aid only because there is no other choice, and it definitely does not have your best interests at heart! You will eventually make one request too many (GM’s judgment – perhaps if the appearance roll comes up 18) and lose the Patron: remove the Patron from your character sheet and lower your point value accordingly. Since a Patron is by definition more powerful than you are, taking an Unwilling Patron is risky. If the Patron can find a way to break your “hold,” it will, and may well become an Enemy! -50%.

Payload 3 1

1 point/level

You can carry cargo or occupants inside your body! This might be a superficial feature (e.g., a surgically implanted “flesh pocket” or a natural pouch like that of a kangaroo) or an actual internal compartment. The latter is not just for machines – a zombie might have a colony of spiders or snakes living in its body, for example. Each level of Payload lets you carry up to Basic Lift/10 lbs. inside you. Those without Injury Tolerance (hom*ogenous) (p. 60) or the Machine meta-trait (p. 263) should ask the GM’s permission before taking more than five levels of Payload. You must allocate your Payload between cargo and occupants when you buy the advantage: Cargo: 20 lbs. of cargo space is roughly equal to one cubic foot of capacity. A typical car has about 10-20 cubic feet of storage space; a semitrailer has about 2,400 cf. Occupants: A human-sized being requires about 200 lbs. of capacity. For others, take average racial weight and increase it by 1/3. An actual cabin requires 10 times that weight. Your defensive advantages (DR, Sealed, etc.) also protect your occupants. If your occupants can control you, buy Controls separately – see Compartmentalized Mind (p. 43).


Special Limitations Treat your Payload as part of your body, not as encumbrance or carried weight, when calculating Move and using advantages with limited carrying capacity, such as Invisibility, Jumper, and Warp. Machines that can push or pull large external loads – or pick them up and carry them with arms, cranes, etc. – have Lifting ST (p. 65), not Payload. Ordinary cars and trucks have Payload, but forklifts, tugboats, and the like should buy Lifting ST to represent their abilities.

Blockable: Some substance completely blocks your vision. Common substances, such as plastic, stone, or wood, are -30%; less common materials, such as brick or asphalt, are -20%; one specific material, such as lead, is -10%. Specific: Your ability only works through one particular substance. Common materials, such as brick, metal, or wood, are -40%; uncommon materials, such as ice or adobe, are -60%; absurd materials, such as chocolate or silk, are -80%.

Special Limitations

Perfect Balance 3

Exposed: Your Payload cannot be concealed and is not protected by your defensive advantages. You can apply this to any portion of your Payload. The main use of this limitation is to create motorcycles and similar unenclosed vehicles. -50%.

Penetrating Vision 3 1

10 points/level

Penetrating Vision (sometimes called “X-ray vision”) lets you see through solid objects. Each level of this advantage allows you to see through up to six inches of normal matter. You can just barely see the outline of the substance you are looking through – not enough to impair vision in any way. Penetrating Vision automatically works in conjunction with all your other vision advantages (Infravision, Ultravision, etc.).


15 points

You can always keep your footing, no matter how narrow the walking surface, under normal conditions. This lets you walk along a tightrope, ledge, tree limb, or other anchored surface without having to make a die roll. If the surface is wet, slippery, or unstable, you get +6 on all rolls to keep your feet. In combat, you get +4 to DX and DX-based skill rolls to keep your feet or avoid being knocked down. Finally, you get +1 to Acrobatics, Climbing, and Piloting skills.

Peripheral Vision 3

15 points

You have an unusually wide field of vision. You can see a 180° arc in front of you without turning your head, and have 30° of peripheral vision to either side of that. This gives you a 240° “arc of vision” for observation and ranged

attacks. The figure above shows the arc of vision for a normal character (white) and for someone with Peripheral Vision (gray plus white). If you are playing with a battle map, you can make melee attacks into “side” (“right” and “left”) hexes as well as “front” hexes – although a onehanded attack to the opposite side (e.g., attacking your left hex with your right hand) is clumsy and considered a Wild Swing (see p. 388). You still cannot attack a foe directly behind you except with a Wild Swing. This also helps on defense! If you are attacked from a “side” hex, you defend at no penalty. Even against attacks from the rear, your active defense is only at -2. Out of combat, you get +3 to all rolls to detect Shadowing attempts or ambushes from behind, and the GM will always make a Vision roll for you to spot dangers “behind your back.”

Special Limitations Easy to Hit: Your eyes are on stalks, unusually large, or otherwise more vulnerable to attack. Others can target your eyes from within their arc of vision at only -6 to hit. -20%.

Permeation 3 1


You can move through a particular solid material as if it didn’t exist. You do not open a passage behind you; observers just see you “melt” into the surface and disappear. You need Penetrating Vision (p. 74) to see where you’re going. You must still breathe (unless you have Doesn’t Breathe), which limits trips to the length of time you can hold your breath (see Holding Your Breath, p. 351). Permeation differs from Insubstantiality. You are affected by gravity, and you are limited to normal movement; if you lack Flight or another movement advantage, you must walk at your Basic Move. Furthermore, you can be affected by any attack that can reach you within a solid object. You also remain vulnerable to attacks with the material you can pass through, unless you purchase Damage Resistance to such attacks. Cost depends on how often you are likely to encounter the material you can permeate in the form of a barrier. For instance, paper might be a

“Common” substance, but since walls of paper are uncommon, it is treated as “Rare” for the purpose of Permeation. Very Common: Earth (including clay, mud, and sand), metal, stone (including brick, concrete, and plaster), wood, and other ubiquitous structural materials. 40 points. Common: Concrete, plastic, steel, and other specific, common structural materials. 20 points. Occasional: Glass, ice (including snow), sand, and anything else that a normal person could eventually break or tunnel through using muscle power, as well as somewhat unusual structural materials, such as aluminum and copper. 10 points. Rare: Bone, flesh, paper, and other materials rarely encountered in large quantities or as barriers. 5 points.

Special Enhancements Can Carry Objects: Normally, you cannot carry anything while moving through matter. This enhancement lets you carry objects, including clothing and armor. If dropped, they “pop” into open space at the point where you entered the material. You cannot leave things inside solid matter! No encumbrance is +10%; Light, +20%; Medium, +50%; Heavy, +100%. Tunnel: You can leave a tunnel (of about your size) behind you, if you choose. This rearranges the object you are moving though without inflicting damage, and does not work at all on living targets. For an ability that can rip holes in objects and people, see Innate Attack (p. 61). +40%.

Photographic Memory see Eidetic Memory, p. 51

Pitiable see p. 22

Plant Empathy 2

5 points

You have an unusual rapport with growing things. On encountering a plant, the GM will roll against your IQ. On a success, he will give you a general sense of its health and whether it is natural or supernatural in origin. Furthermore, this advantage functions as Empathy (p. 51) with respect to sentient plants, and allows you to


use your Influence skills (see p. 359) on such entities, which will usually ensure a positive reaction. This ability frequently accompanies some level of Green Thumb (see Talent, p. 89) and often Sense of Duty (Plants) or Vow (Use plant material only if gathered without severe injury to the plant).

Police Rank see Rank, p. 29

Possession 2 1

100 points

You can move your consciousness from body to body. In theory, you could live forever this way, moving from dying bodies to healthy ones. However, you cannot survive outside a living host. Should your current body die, you will die! Thus, you must keep your current host alive . . . at least until you can find a replacement. To possess a new host, you must concentrate for one second and physically touch him. Attempts to possess your own Puppet (p. 78) succeed automatically. In all other cases, roll a Quick Contest: your IQ vs. the subject’s Will. Your victim resists at +5 if he is in combat with you or otherwise wary of you, so it is best to be subtle. If you lose or tie, you are mentally stunned for 1d seconds. In addition, you may never attempt to possess that subject again – he is “immune” to you. If you win, you take over your victim’s body, completely suppressing his personality. Your previous host regains control of his body (if sentient) after 1d seconds of mental stun, and “comes to” with no memory of the possession. You gain your new host’s ST, DX, and HT (and secondary characteristics calculated from these scores), as well as his physical advantages and disadvantages. You keep your own IQ, Perception, and Will, and all of your mental traits. Your social traits may apply, depending on the laws and values of your society. Skills are a special case. Your IQ-, Perception-, and Will-based skills are unchanged. Other skills remain at the same relative skill level. For instance, if you have Acrobatics at DX+3, then you would have Acrobatics-12 in a DX 9 body and Acrobatics-14 in a DX 11 body.


If you occupy a sentient host, you have sufficient access to his memories for the first few hours of the takeover to learn his name and daily routine, but not enough to learn IQ-based skills. To recall a specific fact from the host’s memories, you must roll vs. IQ, at -1 per hour since the takeover. Only one attempt is allowed for any given memory!

Telecontrol: You remotely control your new host as if he were a puppet, leaving your original body in a trance. You may choose to return to your body at any time, and must do so if your host falls unconscious or dies (but not if he sleeps). As a result, you do not die if your host dies. +50%.

Precognition: You cannot control the content of these flashes – you just know that something interesting or important might happen, at some unspecified future date. If you occupy a host for a long time, or hop between multiple bodies, the GM is free to adjust your point value to reflect the most expensive body you regularly occupy. For more on this subject, see Chapter 9. With suitable modifiers, Possession can represent diverse abilities seen in speculative fiction. Note that the Digital, Magical, Parasitic, Spiritual, and Telepathic limitations are mutually exclusive.

Special Enhancements Assimilation: When you enter a new body, you may choose to “forget” any of your current skills and use the points this frees up – and any unspent points – to learn ST-, DX-, or HT-based skills known by the host, at up to (host’s level)-1. For instance, if you do not know Acrobatics, but your host knows it at DX+3, you can pick it up at DX+2 . . . if you have enough points. Skills forgotten in order to learn new skills are gone. Skills learned from your host will move from body to body with you. +10%. Chronic: When you exit a host, you can leave a “back door” that lets you possess him again without a Quick Contest. This lets you buy your former host as a Puppet. You can only use this enhancement if you have enough unspent points to buy a Puppet at the time you leave your host. +20%. Mind Swap: Your host’s mind moves into your previous body instead of being suppressed – in effect, you “trade places.” +10%.


Special Limitations Digital: This limitation is only available to Digital Minds (p. 48). You take over computers, not living bodies. The target system must be connected to your current host computer via a network, and you must have complete access to it – voluntary or otherwise (see Computer Hacking, p. 184). The target computer’s hardware must be complex enough to run your computer program; in general, its Complexity must be at least half your IQ (round up). You can also take over a computer using a copy of yourself while leaving the original intact! However, unless you have the Digital version of Duplication (p. 50), any system you take over this way becomes an independent NPC that thinks it is you. This can be good or bad – the duplicate could become any type of Associated NPC (see p. 31). -40%. Magical: Your advantage is an innate magic talent. If the subject is protected by a spell that repels hostile magic, you must win a Quick Contest of your IQ vs. that spell before you can make a possession attempt. If your victim has Magic Resistance, it subtracts from your IQ and adds to his Will during the actual possession attempt. -10%. Mindlink Required: You can only possess someone with whom you have a Mindlink. If the link is ever jammed, out of range, etc., the possession ends. If the Mindlink has the Telecommunication limitation, Mindlink Required can represent control via an


implant, telepresence, or similar technology. -40%. No Memory Access: You have no access to your host’s memories. -10%. Parasitic: You enter your host’s body physically. You must have Permeation (Flesh) (p. 75) to do this, unless your host has sufficient Payload (p. 74) to contain you – and your victim must have a higher Size Modifier than you. After entering your victim’s body, you may attempt to possess him. He resists with the higher of HT or Will. You aren’t forced out if you lose, but he is “immune” to you, so you need to find another host soon. While you are in someone else’s body, he (if he is still uncontrolled) or his friends might be able to use technological means to detect you – and possibly remove you. Attacks that penetrate or ignore your host’s DR can injure you, but his HP act as extra DR for this purpose. If you are microbial, you should purchase Injury Tolerance (Diffuse) (p. 60), which will protect you. The host nourishes you, and may have to eat extra food as a result. You can choose to leave at any time, the same way you entered. You may also temporarily release your host while continuing occupation. If you do, you will have to win a new Quick Contest to regain control. -60%. Puppet Only: You may possess your own Puppets automatically, but you cannot possess anyone else. -30%. Spiritual: You must have the Spirit meta-trait (p. 263) to take this limitation. Your spirit body merges with and occupies the body of your host. It remains insubstantial during the possession, traveling inside the host but otherwise inaccessible to you and effectively mindless. It can be injured as detailed under Parasitic, but only by attacks that affect insubstantial things. A genuine exorcist can cast you out by winning a Quick Contest of his exorcism ability vs. your Will. You cannot return to a body you have been cast out of for at least 24 hours. You may choose to release your host at any time. If you are exorcised or leave voluntarily, the host recovers after 1d seconds of mental stun. -20%. Telepathic: Your ability is part of the Telepathy psi power (see p. 257). -10%.

Power Investiture 2 5

10 points/level

A deity – god, demon lord, great spirit, cosmic power, etc. – has empowered you to cast “clerical” spells. Add your Power Investiture to your IQ when you learn spells granted by the deity who bestowed this advantage. For instance, IQ 12 and Power Investiture 2 (Thor) would let you learn spells granted by the god Thor (and only Thor) as if you had IQ 14. You may only learn clerical spells from a fixed list set by your deity, who may even dictate which specific spells you learn. The GM determines this list and takes on the role of your deity when you wish to learn new spells. However, because you are channeling divine will as opposed to studying magic, clerical spells do not have prerequisites. In general, the more Power Investiture you have, the “holier” you are. The maximum level of Power Investiture depends on your deity, as determined by the GM. Minor deities who have a limited ability to transfer power to their chosen, or a small range of possible spell effects, might grant only one level, while major deities might be more generous. Note that Power Investiture is a measure of your bond with your deity, while Clerical Investment (p. 43) and Religious Rank (p. 30) measure social power. These need not be related. Power Investiture might be restricted to high-ranking clerics . . . but a deity can grant power to anyone it wants (possibly to the chagrin of the church!). In some cases, you can add or increase Power Investiture in play. What this entails depends on the deity. To gain, keep, or improve Power Investiture, you nearly always have to take and adhere to one or more of the traits listed under Self-Imposed Mental Disadvantages (p. 121). If you break these vows, you will lose some or all of your powers – perhaps until you have made proper penance, perhaps permanently. In effect, Power Investiture comes with a built-in Pact limitation (see p. 113); do not apply this modifier again. You may also need to meet certain physical requirements. Some deities only empower men, women, eunuchs, virgins . . . the GM should be creative. Should you lose a special requirement

(such as virginity), your Power Investiture may be diminished or lost, reducing your point value accordingly. You can have both Magery and Power Investiture (unless your deity forbids this), but Magery does not improve clerical spells and Power Investiture does not aid magical spells. The clerical and magical versions of a given spell are entirely different spells, and clerical spells never count as prerequisites for magical spells. If you know both versions of a spell, they do not affect one another. Power Investiture is one possible way to handle “holy powers.” It is most appropriate in settings where priests are divinely inspired wizards. For other views of divine gifts, see Blessed (p. 40) and True Faith (p. 94).

affect you in some way. Similarly, seeing a picture of a place could set off a vision involving that location. A deliberate attempt to use Precognition requires 10 minutes of concentration, 2 FP, and an IQ roll at -8. You can attempt to read your own future, or that of another person. To deliberately read the future of someone else, you must be able to touch him. Precognition is normally limited to “seeing” into the near future – perhaps a week or so. At the GM’s option, however, a critical success or a very important event might result in visions from much further in the future. Note that Precognition includes Danger Sense (p. 47) – do not take both.

Precognition 2 5

Can’t See Own Death: Your Precognition cannot detect people or events that the GM believes have a high probability of causing your death. Your ability does not include Danger Sense. -60%. ESP: Your ability is part of the ESP psi power (see p. 255). -10%. One Event: Your ability works only for a particular type of event: events involving you personally (if you scanned another, you would only see a significant event if you were involved); disasters; events related to death; events related to love, etc. This limitation is mutually exclusive with Can’t See Own Death. -40%.

25 points

You receive glimpses of future events. You cannot control the content of these flashes – you just know that something interesting or important might happen, at some unspecified future date. You might learn this through visions, voices, or “sudden knowledge.” A vivid premonition of a terrible event might even require a Fright Check (p. 360)! Precognition only gives information that your “future self” could learn and that would matter to you. For instance, if you’re in New York, you are unlikely to have a premonition about a random murder in Los Angeles. But if the victim was a friend, or if the killing was important enough to make national news, you might “flash” on it. Nothing about the future is certain, though. Even if the GM has made up his mind, he could reconsider . . . although something related to the premonition should still happen. In most settings, predicted events will occur unless you take specific action to prevent them. (But the GM is free to rule that the future is immutable in his setting!) Whenever the GM feels a premonition would be appropriate, he will secretly make an IQ roll for you – usually during an encounter with a person or object. For instance, meeting someone with an important event in his future might set off a premonition related to that event, especially if it would


Special Limitations

Pressure Support 3 1

5 to 15 points

Every character has a “native pressure.” For ordinary humans, this is the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere (“1 atmosphere”). A native pressure other than 1 atmosphere is a 0-point feature, but if you can survive for a prolonged period of time at a wide range of pressures, you have an advantage. This trait comes in three levels: Pressure Support 1: You can survive at pressures between your native pressure and 10 times that. (This would enable a human to survive on most of Earth’s continental shelves.) 5 points. Pressure Support 2: You can withstand pressures between your native pressure and 100 times that. (This would enable a human to survive anywhere in Earth’s oceans, save the deepest trenches.) 10 points.


Pressure Support 3: You are immune to the effects of high pressure. 15 points. Pressure Support lets your body stay at a constant internal pressure with respect to a constant and uniform external pressure. This protects against attacks that manipulate ambient pressure or crush the entire body, but provides no defense against localized or transient pressure changes. In particular, Pressure Support does not reduce or prevent damage from crushing attacks or explosions of any kind. Those with Pressure Support often have the Sealed advantage (p. 82), but this is not required.

Protected Sense 3 1

5 points/sense

One of your ranged senses is protected against overload. It rapidly adapts to the most intense of stimuli, allowing you to function normally after a maximum of two seconds of impairment. You will never suffer permanent damage to that sense as a result of excessive sensory input, and you get +5 to rolls to resist temporary damage and Sense-Based attacks targeting that sense. Protected Senses cost 5 points apiece. Protected Vision resists glare and eye damage from lasers, and lets Dark Vision, Infravision, and Night Vision adjust instantly from bright light to darkness. Protected Hearing protects against loud noises. Protected Taste/Smell filters out strong odors and tastes (but not toxins). The GM may permit other Protected Senses (Detect, Scanning Sense, etc.), with suitable justification.

Psi Static 2 5

30 points

You are a psionic “null.” Psionic abilities cannot directly affect you or anything you are carrying or wearing. For instance, a telekinetic could throw a rock at you, but he could not levitate you or grab a sword from your hand.

Special Enhancements Area Effect: You emit static in an area centered on you. The first level of Area Effect extends your static to everything within one yard. Each level after the first doubles this radius as


usual; see Area Effect (p. 102). +50%/level. Switchable: You can switch this advantage off in order to allow friendly psis to affect you or operate within your area of effect. +100%.

Special Limitations Resistible: Your ability is not absolute. A psi can “burn” through your static and affect those protected by it by winning a Quick Contest of Will with you. If the attacking psi ability already requires a Quick Contest, the attacker rolls only once but the target gets +5 to resist. -50%.

Psychometry 2 5

20 points

You can sense the history of a place or inanimate object – its use, its user’s personality, etc. This is usually a supernatural gift of some sort (such as psi), but it could also represent a technological “time-scanning” power that can see the past. To use Psychometry, you must touch the subject item or location, concentrate for one second, and make an IQ roll. This roll is at no penalty for an event that occurred the same day, -1 for one that occurred up to 10 days ago, -2 if up to 100 days ago, -3 if up to 3 years ago, -4 if up to 30 years ago, -5 if up to 300 years ago, and so on. At the GM’s option, you might notice very strong “vibes” on an IQ-4 roll, even if you aren’t concentrating. On a success, you receive the general sense of emotions and events tied to the object or place . . . if it is linked to emotionally charged events (an uneventful history might leave no impressions at all). This is not always a good thing – a terrifying impression might require a Fright Check (p. 360)! On a critical success, you experience an actual vision. No matter how well you roll, you cannot detect magic, spirits, etc. Still, a magic item, ghostly haunt, or ritual site is likely to have an emotionally charged history, giving strong impressions. On a failure, you receive no impressions at all, and cannot attempt to read that object or place again for 24 hours.

Special Limitations ESP: Your ability is part of the ESP psi power (see p. 255). -10%.


Puppet 2 1

5 or 10 points

Prerequisites: Possession and either Ally or Dependent. A Puppet is an Ally (p. 36) or Dependent (p. 131) who cannot resist your Possession advantage (p. 75). When you use Possession on him, you succeed automatically! This may be due to his nature or some special knowledge you have: a curse, his true name, the key to his mind, etc. A Puppet will always have IQ 0, or owe you a Duty (p. 133), or be Reprogrammable (p. 150). If he has a Duty, it must be Involuntary, and its frequency must be identical to the Puppet’s own frequency of appearance as an Ally or Dependent. Each Puppet costs 5 points. You can buy an entire group of related Allies as Puppets for 10 points. These costs are for the Puppet advantage only; you must pay for your Ally or Dependent separately. It is common but not mandatory for such Allies to have the Minion enhancement or the Unwilling limitation.

Racial Memory 2 1

15 or 40 points

You have access to the memories of your direct ancestors (or earlier software generations, for Digital Minds). This ability comes in two forms: Racial Memory (Passive): Your talent is vague and totally passive. The GM secretly makes an IQ roll for you in any situation that your ancestors might have encountered. On a success, you get a feeling of déjà vu about the situation. It is up to you to interpret this. A critical success gives a vivid replay of ancient ancestral memories. On a failure, nothing happens. A critical failure results in a wrong impression. 15 points. Racial Memory (Active): You may use this advantage actively. If you want to know something, the GM first determines whether or not your ancestors knew the answer. Then he rolls against your IQ to see if you can gain access to the information. If your ancestors didn’t have the answer and the roll succeeds, you will know that. On a critical failure, you will believe your ancestors didn’t know, even if

they really did. This requires one turn of absolute concentration (the GM may require more elaborate preparations to recall very ancient memories). 40 points.

Radiation Tolerance 3 1


Your cells or circuits are resistant to radiation. The cost of this advantage depends on the divisor of the effective dose of radiation you receive – after dividing by the Protection Factor (PF) of artificial protection such as armor. Divisor 2 5 10 20 50 100 200 500 1,000

Cost 5 points 10 points 15 points 20 points 25 points 30 points 35 points 40 points 45 points

Rank see p. 29

Rapid Healing 3

5 or 15 points

Your wounds heal quickly. This trait comes in two levels: Rapid Healing: Whenever you roll to recover lost HP or to see if you can get over a crippling injury, you get +5 to your effective HT. Prerequisite: HT 10+. 5 points. Very Rapid Healing: As above, but when you roll to recover lost HT, a successful HT roll means you heal two HP, not one. Prerequisite: HT 12+. 15 points. Note that this advantage does not hasten recovery from the short-term effects of injury, such as stunning and knockout; get Recovery (p. 80) for that.

Rapier Wit 2

5 points

You can use witty repartee to stun your foes in combat. This does not require a combat maneuver – talking is a free action (p. 363). Roll a Quick Contest of Public Speaking skill vs. your opponent’s Will. Modifiers: -2 if your target has the Clueless or No Sense of Humor disadvantage; any modifier the GM assigns based on your description of the verbal attack; -1 per opponent beyond the first to affect a group (and you must know something the entire group has in common; e.g., they’re all flunkies of the same household or members of the same military unit). Opponents with the Unfazeable advantage (p. 95) are immune to Rapier Wit. If you win, your opponent is mentally stunned (see p. 420). A critical success causes one HP of physical damage as well – your victim injures himself accidentally (drops something on his foot, chokes on his own tongue, etc.). If you lose, there is no effect. On a critical failure, you enrage your opponent, possibly triggering such disadvantages as Berserk and Bloodlust! This advantage is usually only appropriate in a silly campaign!



Reawakened 2 5

10 points

You can “remember” skills (spells, techniques, etc.) learned during previous lives. You must purchase these abilities normally; Reawakened is just a special Unusual Background (p. 96) that explains how you learned them without a teacher. This trait is only available if reincarnation is a fact in the setting (GM’s decision).

Recovery 3 1

10 points

You recover from unconsciousness very quickly. When determining the length of time you remain unconscious for any reason, divide by all times by 60: hours become minutes, minutes become seconds . . . even a month-long coma becomes a mere 12hour sleep.

Reduced Consumption 3

2 points/level

You can go for a long time without food and water, or fuel – although you still require these things. (For indefinite endurance, see Doesn’t Eat or Drink, p. 50.) This advantage comes in four levels: Reduced Consumption 1: You require 2/3 as much food and water, or fuel, as usual (“two meals a day”). 2 points. Reduced Consumption 2: You require 1/3 as much food and water, or fuel, as usual (“one meal a day”). 4 points. Reduced Consumption 3: You require food and water only once per week (“one meal a week,” or about 5% as much). 6 points. Reduced Consumption 4: You require food and water only once per month (“one meal a month,” or about 1% as much). 8 points. Note that one or even two levels of this advantage might be appropriate for ascetics in cinematic games!

Special Limitations Cast-Iron Stomach: You require the standard amount of food and water, but the quality is irrelevant. You can eat rotten vegetables and fuzzy blue-


green meat, and drink dishwater and sour milk. Instead of reducing how often you must eat, reduce your demands on life support (and your food costs) by a like amount: to 2/3 normal at level 1, 1/3 normal at level 2, 5% normal at level 3, and 1% normal at level 4. You get a bonus equal to your level (+1 to +4) to resist the effects of food-borne poisons or diseases not tailored expressly for you, but -3 on reactions from anyone watching you eat! -50%. Food Only: You require less food, but the usual amount of water. -50%. Water Only: You require less water, but the usual amount of food. -50%.

Regeneration 3 1


Your wounds heal in mere hours, minutes, or seconds! To regenerate lost limbs, you will also need Regrowth (below) – but Regeneration will greatly accelerate that ability. Regeneration includes Rapid Healing (p. 79) at no extra cost. You cannot have Regeneration if you have Slow Healing (p. 155) or Unhealing (p. 160). Regeneration is compatible with Draining (p. 132), but it does not restore the daily HP loss due to that disadvantage. The cost of this trait depends on your regeneration speed: Regeneration (Slow): You recover 1 HP every 12 hours, in addition to normal healing. 10 points. Regeneration (Regular): You recover 1 HP per hour. 25 points. Regeneration (Fast): You recover 1 HP per minute. 50 points. Regeneration (Very Fast): You recover 1 HP per second. 100 points. Regeneration (Extreme): You recover 10 HP per second. 150 points.

Special Enhancements Heals Radiation: You shed accumulated rads at 10 times the rate at which you heal missing HP. For instance, Regeneration (Regular) removes 10 rads per hour. This will heal “permanent” radiation damage. +40%.

Special Limitations Radiation Only: As Heals Radiation, but you only shed rads – you do not heal HP. -60%.


Regrowth 3 1

40 points

You can regrow lost limbs and organs! A lost ear, finger, toe, claw, tentacle tip, etc. regrows in 1d weeks; a lost hand or foot in 1d+1 months; and a lost eye, arm, or leg in 2d+2 months. If you also have Regeneration (above), Regrowth works much faster: all lost body parts regrow in the time it takes you to heal to full HP.

Special Limitations Minor: You can only regrow ears, fingers, toes, and other small bits – not hands, feet, eyes, etc. -50%.

Religious Rank see Rank, p. 29

Reputation see p. 26 A positive Reputation is an advantage and should be noted as such on your character sheet.

Resistant 3


You are naturally resistant (or even immune) to noxious items or substances that are not direct, physical attacks. This gives you a bonus on all HT rolls to resist incapacitation or injury from such things. The bonus from Resistant applies to all rolls to resist noxious effects within a particular category – usually some combination of disease, poison, and environmental syndromes (altitude sickness, the bends, space sickness, etc.). It also applies to rolls to resist attacks that use these effects. This includes Afflictions with one of Blood Agent, Contact Agent, FollowUp, or Respiratory Agent, and Innate Attacks that have such modifiers and inflict toxic or fatigue damage. Resistant does not protect against effects that Damage Resistance or Protected Sense either stop or provide a HT bonus to resist. This includes Afflictions and Innate Attacks that do not have any of the modifiers given above. The base cost for Resistant depends on the rarity of the effects it counteracts:

Very Common: A broad category within the noxious items described above. Example: Metabolic Hazards (all threats that only affect the living, including all disease and poison, plus such syndromes as altitude sickness, bends, seasickness, and jet lag). 30 points. Common: A group of related items encountered as often in nature as in an attack, or some other suitably broad subset of “Very Common.” Example: Poison (all toxins, but not asphyxiants or corrosives) or Sickness (all diseases and environmental syndromes). 15 points. Occasional: A group of closely related items more often encountered in nature than as a deliberate attack, or a subset of a “Common” group. Examples: Disease (all bacteria, viruses, fungus infections, etc.) or Ingested Poison. 10 points. Rare: A specific item or environmental syndrome, or a subset of an “Occasional” group. Examples: Acceleration (blackouts due to extreme G-forces), Altitude Sickness, Bends (decompression sickness),

Poison (+3) [5]. Anything more would be superhuman. Golems, robots, undead, and other beings that are not truly “alive” must take Immunity to Metabolic Hazards [30]; this is already included in the Machine meta-trait (p. 263). When in doubt, the GM’s word is final. Mental Resistance: It is possible to be Resistant to a purely mental threat. This works as described above, except that the bonus applies to resistance rolls against IQ and Will instead of HT. “Psionics” is an allowed category, and is considered Very Common.

Scanning Sense 3 1


You can emit energy, bounce it off objects, and analyze the returned signal to build up a “picture” of your surroundings. This lets you discern size and shape, but not color or fine detail (such as writing). It has nothing to do with the normal human sense of sight, and requires no light. As a result, you may ignore darkness penalties in com-

Resistant does not protect against effects that Damage Resistance or Protected Sense either stop or provide a bonus to resist. Seasickness, or Space Sickness; Nanomachines. 5 points. Multiply base cost to reflect your degree of resistance: You are totally immune to all noxious effects, and never have to make resistance rolls (write this as “Immunity” on your character sheet): ¥1. You have +8 to all HT rolls to resist: ¥1/2. You have +3 to all HT rolls to resist: ¥1/3. Drop all fractions from the final cost. An ordinary human could believably have any level of resistance to a mundane “Rare” item, such as Seasickness. He might also have Resistant to Disease (+3) [3], Resistant to Disease (+8) [5], or Resistant to

bat. Perception is limited to a 120° arc in front of you. Your sense is “active.” Anyone who can sense the signal you emit can detect you, out to twice your own range. Unlike other sensory advantages, however, you can turn this ability off; see Turning Advantages Off and On (p. 34). Below are several varieties of Scanning Sense. Each is a separate advantage, with its own special rules. Where these rules contradict the general ones given above, follow the special rules. Each sense also has a base range. To adjust this, take Increased Range (p. 106) or Reduced Range (p. 115). Radar: Your Scanning Sense uses radio waves. Base range is 2,000 yards. You can only detect large (humansized or larger), dense objects. On a


Sense roll, you get a general idea of the relative size of the object, and whether it is moving, but nothing more precise. You cannot get an actual “image” with Radar, or use it to aim attacks. Radar works best on flying targets; roll at -4 to spot anyone who is not silhouetted against the sky. Radar does not work at all underwater. 20 points. Imaging Radar: Your Scanning Sense uses millimeter-wave radar. Base range is 200 yards. You can spot small objects and determine their shape, but you must make a Sense roll to distinguish fine relief (e.g., to identify a face). Imaging Radar can see through thin fabric or vegetation. You get +3 to locate objects like concealed weapons, and may ignore penalties for spotting objects hidden behind light brush. Ordinary radar detectors detect Imaging Radar at -4. Imaging Radar does not work underwater. 20 points. Ladar: Your Scanning Sense uses a laser beam. Base range is 200 yards. Ladar is very similar to Imaging Radar, but the beam is narrower and offers better resolution. This gives -4 on rolls to locate objects of interest, but +4 on rolls to identify them. Only specialized ladar detectors can detect Ladar, and at -4 even then. Ladar cannot penetrate dense smoke or solid objects. It has 10-50% range in falling rain or snow, and 1% range underwater. 20 points. Para-Radar: Your Scanning Sense uses energy unknown to 21st-century science. Treat Para-Radar as Imaging Radar, except that it functions in any environment! Ordinary radar detectors cannot detect Para-Radar, although some ultra-tech sensors might be able to do so. 40 points. Sonar: Your Scanning Sense uses ultrasonic sound waves. Base range is 2,000 yards underwater. You can spot small objects and determine their shape, but you must make a Sense roll to distinguish fine relief (e.g., to identify a face). Sonar does not function if you are deafened, and can be “jammed” or fooled by a very loud noise (e.g., an explosion). Individuals with Ultrahearing can detect Sonar. Sonar is much less effective in air: range is only 20 yards multiplied by air pressure in atmospheres (one atmosphere on Earth). Sonar is completely ineffective in vacuum. 20 points.


Special Enhancements Extended Arc: You can scan an arc greater than 120°. A 240° arc (as described for Peripheral Vision, p. 74) is +75%; a 360° arc (as described for 360° Vision, p. 34) is +125%. Low-Probability Intercept (LPI): This is only available for Radar and Sonar. You can switch this enhancement on and off. Turning it on makes your signal difficult to detect. This halves range, but your Scanning Sense can only be detected at 1.5 times the halved range. +10%. Multi-Mode: This is only available for Radar. You can switch between Radar and Imaging Radar. (This is much cheaper than buying the two advantages separately, because they overlap to some extent.) +50%. Penetrating: This is only available for Para-Radar. You can “see” inside any object within range. This functions exactly as Penetrating Vision 2 (p. 74). +50%. Targeting: By taking an Aim maneuver, you can “lock onto” any object within range and determine its precise range and speed – just as if you had a high-tech rangefinder. This gives you +3 to hit that target with an aimed ranged attack. +20%.

Special Limitations Targeting Only: As Targeting, but you can only use your sense to “lock onto” targets already spotted with another sense; you cannot use it to spot things. -40%.

Sealed 3 1

15 points

You are encased in a gas- and liquid-impermeable layer. This makes you waterproof, and grants complete immunity to corrosive or toxic agents that must touch skin or exposed machinery to work. You must still breathe, unless you also have Doesn’t Breathe (p. 49); however, your exterior breathing apparatus (nose, snorkel, etc.) is protected by this trait. Likewise, you are not automatically pressurized; for that, take Pressure Support (p. 77) or Vacuum Support (p. 96).

Security Clearance 4


A government agency or corporation trusts you with access to sensitive


information that would otherwise be “off limits” to someone of your Rank or Status. For instance, a general “cleared” for military secrets commensurate with his Military Rank would not have to buy Security Clearance separately, but a civilian with exactly the same level of access would have to pay points for the privilege. Point cost depends on your degree of access: • You have access to a relatively narrow range of secrets on a “need to


know” basis. Example: a strategic bomber pilot, who might know secrets about aircraft, weapons, and targets. 5 points. • You have either free access to a narrow range of secrets or “need to know” access to a broad range of secrets. Example: a counterintelligence officer, who would have limited access to many secrets, as part of his job is to protect them. 10 points. • You have free access to a broad range of secrets. Example: a cinematic secret agent, who will know almost

any secret the plot requires him to know. 15 points. Halve these values (round up) if the organization that grants the Security Clearance is of relatively minor importance (e.g., a small corporation or municipal government). You cannot receive a security clearance without a thorough background check. The GM is free to forbid this advantage to any PC who has a suspicious past (including such traits as Debt or Secret) or an unstable personality (for instance, Paranoia or Sadism).

See Invisible 3 1

15 points

You can see objects or individuals that are normally invisible. Buy this advantage separately for each kind of invisibility.

Sensitive see Empathy, p. 51

Sensitive Touch 3 1

10 points

Your fingertips or equivalent organs are extremely sensitive, allowing you to sense residual heat in a chair, faint vibrations in the floor as someone approaches, etc. You get +4 (in addition to any Acute Touch bonuses) on any task that utilizes the sense of touch; e.g., a Forensics roll to note the similarities or differences between two pieces of fabric, or a Search roll to feel out tiny concealed objects.

Serendipity 2

15 points/level

You have the knack of being in the right place at the right time. Each level of this trait entitles you to one fortuitous but plausible coincidence per game session. The details are up to the GM. For instance, the GM might declare that one of the guards you need to talk your way past just happens to be your cousin, or that there is a sports car idling in front of the bank just as you run outside in pursuit of the fleeing bank robbers. From time to time, the GM may rule that a single implausible coincidence counts as some or all of your lucky breaks for a given session (e.g.,

the mechanic at the local garage has all the parts you need to complete your ultra-tech contragrav belt). You are free to suggest serendipitous occurrences to the GM, but he gets the final say. Should he reject all your suggestions but fail to work Serendipity into the game session, you will get your lucky breaks next game session.

Shadow Form 3 1

50 points

You can become a two-dimensional shadow. This lets you slip along walls and floors – and through the thinnest cracks (anything wide enough to fit your shoulders through) – at your usual ground Move. You can also defy gravity, creeping up walls and across ceilings at half Move. Physical attacks do half damage to you in this form. Energy attacks do normal damage, except for light-based attacks, which do 50% extra damage. Magic, psi, and other purely mental abilities affect you normally. You are subject to a few major restrictions while in this form. You cannot walk through three-dimensional space; you must slide along an object. Furthermore, you cannot perform any purely physical attacks or actions, and you cannot carry ordinary items or affect them in any way. You can use magic, psi, and similar abilities, however. If you cannot switch out of Shadow Form, Shadow Form is a disadvantage worth -20 points. This will make it difficult to interact with others! You may still add enhancements, but they will work like limitations, reducing the value of the disadvantage. For instance, a +50% enhancement would reduce the value of the disadvantage by 50%, to -10 points.

Special Enhancements Can Carry Objects: You may carry objects. They take Shadow Form when picked up and return to normal when put down. You still may not affect non-shadow objects. No encumbrance is +10%; Light, +20%; Medium, +50%; Heavy, +100%.

Shapeshifting 3 1


You can physically change into one or more forms different from your


native form. To shift between forms, you must concentrate for 10 seconds. To speed this up, add Reduced Time (p. 108). Fatigue, injury, crippling, and afflictions carry over between forms – although HP and FP losses scale in proportion to the HP and FP of the form. For instance, if you suffer 10 HP of damage and a broken leg in a form that has 20 HP, you will have 5 HP of damage and a broken leg when you switch to a form that has only 10 HP. If you are knocked out or killed, you immediately revert to your native form (which will also be unconscious or dead). In addition, you must specify a single, reasonably common external influence that can force you to return to your native form against your will. This should suit the advantage’s origin: a Dispel Magic spell if your ability is magical, exorcism if a spirit power, strong magnetic fields if technological, etc. Shapeshifting comprises two different traits: Alternate Form and Morph.

Alternate Form Variable Like the werewolf of folklore, you can assume a specific form other than your own. This can be anything built with points: humanoid, animal, robot, etc. Create your alternate form as a racial template (p. 260); however, you can switch it “on” and “off.” This template need not be a “stock” template. For instance, if you wish to retain human intelligence in beast form, you could shift into a template that lacks the beast’s low IQ (although this increases the template cost and hence the cost of Alternate Form). The GM is the final judge of what templates are allowed as Alternate Forms. While it is turned on, your Alternate Form’s racial template replaces your native racial template. Apply its racial traits – attribute modifiers, racial advantages and disadvantages, etc. – instead of those of your native race. Personal traits (including all attribute levels, advantages, disadvantages, and skills bought over and above racial norms) remain intact, although your skill levels are affected by changes to the controlling attribute scores.


If the Alternate Form’s racial template has traits that conflict with your personal traits, the traits of your Alternate Form take precedence. For instance, if you become a dolphin with No Manipulators, you will temporarily lose personal advantages that affect your hands, such as High Manual Dexterity, while you are in dolphin form – and some skills (for instance, Lockpicking) will be relatively useless, although you do remember them. If you have a single Alternate Form, it costs 15 points for a racial template worth no more than your native racial template. A more powerful form costs 15 points plus 90% of the difference in cost between your native template and that of your Alternate Form. If you have multiple forms, pay full cost for the most expensive form. The less powerful Alternate Forms cost a flat 15 points apiece. Minimum cost per form is still 15 points. Example: Consider four racial templates: a -100-point “cuddly critter,” a 0-point human, an 80-point “ravenous beast,” and a 100-point troll. A human who can turn into a cuddly critter pays 15 points, as the cuddly critter template is worth less than his native template. A cuddly critter who can turn into a human pays 15 + (0.9 ¥ 100) = 105 points, since the human racial template is worth 100 points more than his own. A human who can become a troll also pays 15 + (0.9 ¥ 100) = 105 points. A human who can assume any of the other three templates would pay full cost for his most expensive form, the troll: 105 points. The ravenous beast and cuddly critter forms would cost the minimum 15 points apiece. Total cost would be 135 points. Were-Creatures: To create the classic “were-creature,” start by purchasing any trait that applies in both forms – Infectious Attack, Vulnerability (Silver), etc. – as a personal trait. Next, buy an animal template as an Alternate Form. Since most beast templates are worth 0 or fewer points, this will usually cost 15 points, but powerful creatures (e.g., bears and tigers) may cost more. If the beast form is savage, the template should include such traits as Berserk, Bestial, and Bloodlust. Finally, apply limitations


such as Emergencies Only (p. 112), Unconscious Only (p. 115), and Uncontrollable (p. 116) to Alternate Form, as applicable. If you can only change during the full moon, add a -40% Trigger limitation (p. 115) as well. Shapeshifting Races: When creating an entire race that has Alternate Form, work out the details of Alternate Form last. Total the cost of all the race’s traits other than Alternate Form, subtract this total from the cost of the template the race transforms into, and use the difference to calculate the cost of Alternate Form for the race. Add the cost of Alternate Form to that of the race’s other abilities to determine final racial cost. Example: Forest Dwarves can turn into sapient bears. Excluding Alternate Form, the racial traits of Forest Dwarves total 25 points. The bear template is worth 125 points. The difference is 125 - 25 = 100 points. Thus, the cost of Alternate Form is 15 + (0.9 ¥ 100) = 105 points. This makes the Forest Dwarf template worth 25 + 105 = 130 points.

Special Limitations Cosmetic: You can assume a second, distinct appearance with no change in abilities or racial template. -50%.

Morph Variable This ability is similar to Alternate Form, but not limited to specific racial templates. You can assume any racial template, within certain limits. First, the racial template must already exist in your game world. The GM might design the template himself or take one from a GURPS worldbook, but you cannot design totally new templates for the purpose of Morph (you can adjust existing ones, though; see below). Second, you can only turn into a living being, or a formerly living being such as a vampire. To change into a machine requires a special enhancement. Finally, the template’s point value must be within a limit determined by the number of points you have in Morph. If you can assume any racial template worth no more than your native one, Morph costs 100 points. This


makes many forms available – anything no more powerful than your native form. For a human, this includes cats, insects, owls, and wolves. If you can assume more powerful forms, add the difference between the maximum racial template cost and the cost of your native template to the base 100 points. For instance, a human who can take on any racial template worth up to 75 points would pay 175 points for Morph. You may improve this limit with earned character points. You can always take on the form of a being you can see or touch, provided its racial template cost does not exceed your maximum. Once you have assumed a form, you can opt to memorize it by concentrating for one minute. This allows you to shapeshift into that form at any time. You can memorize a number of forms equal to your IQ. If all your “slots” are full, you must overwrite a previously memorized form (your choice) to add the new form. As with Alternate Form, the racial template of whatever you turn into replaces your native racial template. You may not add traits to templates, but you may freely omit racial mental disadvantages (e.g., Bestial), and you may always choose to drop the racial IQ modifier from a template and use your own IQ. Such changes raise the cost of animal templates, which are cheap due to limited mental capabilities. If you intend to do this, you should spend more than the minimum 100 points on Morph. Morph includes the ability to make cosmetic changes. This lets you impersonate a specific member of any race you can turn into. You can always impersonate someone who is present – but to assume his form later on, you must commit a memory “slot” to that form. With enough points in Morph, you can use this function to improve appearance. For instance, 115 points in Morph would let you give yourself any appearance from Horrific to Handsome. Cosmetic changes still take the usual 10 seconds. Shapeshifting Races: Members of a race with the Morph ability must subtract the point cost of Morph from racial cost when determining what forms they can assume.

Example: Blue Blobs have a racial Morph ability worth 125 points – the basic ability, plus 25 points of extra capacity. This lets them assume forms worth 25 points more than their native one. With their other traits, their total racial cost is 175 points. However, for the purpose of Morph, they are considered to have a racial cost of 175 - 125 = 50 points. With their 25 points of additional capacity, Blue Blobs can turn into creatures worth up to 75 points.

Special Enhancements Unlimited: You can become anything the GM has defined with a racial template. This lets you turn into robots, vehicles, etc. as well as living beings. Most ordinary inanimate objects – such as bricks and toasters – are worth 0 points or less. With the GM’s permission, you can become a typical example of an object like this without the need for a specific racial template. +50%.

Special Limitations Cosmetic: You can only change your outward appearance. Your abilities and racial template are unaffected. -50%. This limitation includes Mass Conservation, but not Retains Shape. Mass Conservation: All your forms have the same weight. If the weight of your native form falls outside the normal racial weight range for a race, you simply cannot become a member of that race. The GM should be merciless when enforcing this limitation – no 150-lb. mice or elephants! -20%. Retains Shape: You can only assume forms with the same number of limbs, body layout, posture, etc. as your native form. This would limit a human Morph to humanoids (e.g., elves and giants), a wolf Morph to horizontal quadrupeds, and a bird Morph to other birds. -20%.

Shrinking 3 1

5 points/level

You can shrink at will. Each level of Shrinking lets you change your Size Modifier by -1, at the rate of -1 SM per second. You return to normal size at the same rate. By default, you cannot carry any equipment, not even clothing, when you shrink. The ability to carry objects while shrunk is an enhancement. When you shrink, find your new height from the Size Modifier Table (p. 19). Every -6 to SM reduces height

by a factor of 10. Reduce Move, reach, damage (with unarmed attacks, Innate Attacks, or shrunken weapons), HP, and DR in proportion to height. Every full -2 to SM also reduces weight by a factor of 10; for odd-numbered levels, treat the extra -1 as an additional factor of 3 (e.g., -3 to SM reduces weight by a factor of 30). Example: A 5’10”-tall character (SM 0) has Shrinking 12. This lets him shrink until he has SM -12, reducing his height by a factor of 100 (to about 0.7”). However, at that size he has only 1% his usual Move, reach, HP, and DR, and must divide any damage he inflicts by 100. His weight goes down by a factor of 1,000,000!

Special Enhancements Affects Others: You can bring your friends with you when you shrink! +50% per person you can affect at the same time. Can Carry Objects: You may carry objects. This is limited to equipment you are actually carrying or wearing when you shrink. Such items regain normal size when put down; at the GM’s option, they might sweep you aside as they grow, or even return to normal size beneath you, stranding you high above the ground! No encumbrance is +10%; Light, +20%; Medium, +50%; Heavy, +100%. Full Damage: You inflict full damage when shrunk. (GMs be warned: this makes for an almost perfect assassin.) +100%. Full DR: You retain full DR when shrunk. +30%. Full HP: You retain full HP when shrunk. +30%. Full Move: You retain full Move when shrunk. +30%.

Signature Gear 4


You have distinctive, valuable possessions unrelated to your wealth level. This gear is as much a part of your personal legend as are your reputation and skills. You must explain where it came from: you won your starship in a card game, inherited your magic sword from your mentor, etc. For equipment normally bought with money, such as weapons and armor, each point in Signature Gear gives goods worth up to 50% of the average campaign starting wealth (but


never cash). For anything built as a character, use the rules under Allies (p. 36) instead. It is up to the GM whether to treat android companions, faithful steeds, custom vehicles, etc. as equipment (with a cash cost) or characters (with a point cost). If you misplace Signature Gear or sell it unwillingly, or an NPC steals or confiscates it, the GM must give you an opportunity to recover it in the course of the adventure. If it is truly lost forever through no fault of your own, the GM will give you back your points (or replace the item with another of equal value). However, should you sell or give away your Signature Gear of your own free will, it is gone, along with the points spent on it!

Silence 3 1

5 points/level

You can move and breathe noiselessly. You get +2 per level to Stealth skill when you are perfectly motionless, or +1 if moving (even in armor, etc.). These bonuses help only in the dark, or against listening devices, blind creatures, and others who must rely on hearing to find you.

Single-Minded 2

5 points

You can really concentrate! You get +3 to success rolls for any lengthy mental task you concentrate on to the exclusion of other activities, if the GM feels such focus would be beneficial. You tend to ignore everything else while obsessed (roll vs. Will to avoid this), and have -5 to all rolls to notice interruptions. The GM may rule that certain complex tasks (e.g., inventing, magic, and social activities) require you to divide your attention. This trait has no effect in such situations.

Slippery 3 1

2 points/level

You are hard to hold! You might be slimy, molecularly smooth, or surrounded by a force field that negates friction. Each level of this trait (maximum five levels) gives +1 on all ST, DX, and Escape rolls to slip restraints, break free in close combat, or squeeze through narrow openings.

Smooth Operator see Talent, p. 89.


Snatcher 2 5

80 points

You have the power to find almost any small item you desire in an alternate world and “snatch” it across the dimensions to you. The items you snatch do not come from your own world, but from some nameless parallel; therefore, you can never intentionally take something away from a specific other person. Note that this talent does not allow you to visit alternate worlds in person – only to steal from them. To make a snatch, you must first concentrate for 10 seconds and clearly visualize the item you want. The item must be able to fit in one hand, and cannot weigh more than 5 lbs. You should have a hand free (if your hands are tied, you roll at -3), and others can see you making “reaching” motions with that hand. Next, make an IQ roll for the snatch attempt. If you are trying for information in any form, the GM makes this roll for you (see below). Regardless of IQ, a roll of 14 or more always fails. On a success, the desired item appears in your hand – or sitting within arm’s reach, if you prefer. On a failure, you obtain nothing. On a critical failure, you snatched the wrong item! This item is not immediately dangerous unless you were trying for something dangerous. Regardless of success or failure, each snatch attempt costs 2 FP.

Items Available In theory, you can get anything. In practice, some things are so hard to find that it is little use trying for them. You have a good chance of getting any item that exists, or that ever existed, in your own world – or any reasonably similar item. If the desired item is unusual, the GM may apply a penalty to the IQ roll: Item is significantly different from anything that ever appeared in your own world: -1 or more (GM’s option). You could visualize “a perfect diamond, bright green, the size of a hen’s egg, carved into the shape of a typewriter,” but you might be rolling at -20! Item is unique or almost unique in any one world (e.g., the Hope Diamond): -3 or worse (GM’s option).


You cannot clearly visualize what you want: -4 or worse (GM’s option). Even on a “success,” you might not get what you were really hoping for. You cannot get an item that works by natural laws wholly different from those in your world. For instance, if your world is nonmagical (or has no magic that you know of), you cannot snatch a magic item, because you are unable to visualize it properly; you would get a pretty but powerless mundane item. Similarly, if you are from a low-TL world, you could not get a laser pistol; you wouldn’t be able to visualize it well, and your best effort would be a broken or toy gun. (A generous GM might bend this rule on a critical success . . . and then let the poor Snatcher try to figure out how to use his amulet or laser pistol without killing himself.) Information is not available except in the form of “ordinary” textbooks, reports, etc. You can grab a history book, but you can’t ask for “The Book of What Happens Next in My Adventure.” Note that the GM makes the roll if information is requested. If the roll fails by 5 or more, the information comes from an alternate world with different history, physics, etc., and is wrong – maybe subtly, maybe not subtly at all!

Repeated Attempts If your snatch attempt is unsuccessful, you can immediately try to snatch the same or a similar object again. These “repeated attempts” are made at a cumulative -1 to the IQ roll. Each repeated attempt costs 4 FP instead of the usual 2 FP. To eliminate these penalties, wait one hour between attempts. The GM should be strict about attempts to circumvent this. For instance, a “.45 pistol” is not very different from a “.357 pistol” for the purpose of this advantage. Furthermore, ignore critical successes on repeated attempts made in quick succession. If the snatch being attempted is very difficult, there is little choice but to wait an hour between attempts.

Duration The objects you snatch remain until you voluntarily return them or use your Snatcher ability again. To keep objects indefinitely, take the Permanent enhancement (below).


Special Enhancements Permanent: Objects you snatch don’t vanish when you use your ability again. The GM is free to forbid this enhancement, as it allows a single Snatcher to amass boundless wealth by snatching small, valuable objects. +300%.

Special Limitations Less Weight: Your weight limit is lower than 5 lbs. Limit 3 lbs. 2 lbs. 1 lb. 4 oz. 1 oz.

Cost Modifier -5% -10% -15% -25% -30%

Specialized: You can only grab a certain type of object, or cannot touch a certain class of thing. Examples: Only metal, -5%; Only money, -10%; Only weapons, -10%; Only information, -20%; No metal, -20%; Only blue things, -25%. The GM sets the limitation value using the guidelines under Accessibility (p. 110). Stunning: You are mentally stunned after a successful snatch. -10%. Unpredictable: On a failed IQ roll, you get something, but it isn’t what you wanted. The worse the failure, the more different the item is. If you wanted a loaded pistol, failure by 1 might bring an unloaded pistol. Failure by 2 could mean a water pistol, failure by 3 a book on “How to Shoot,” and so on . . . with a critical failure bringing a live hand grenade. Any critical failure is dangerous, regardless of what you were looking for! -25%.

Social Chameleon 2

5 points

You have the knack of knowing exactly what to say – and when to say it – around your social “betters.” You are exempt from reaction penalties due to differences in Rank or Status. In situations where there would be no such penalty, you get +1 on reactions from those who demand respect (priests, kings, etc.). This is a cinematic advantage!

Social Regard 4

5 points per +1 reaction

You are a member of a class, race, sex, or other group that your society

holds in high regard. To be an advantage, this must be obvious to anyone who meets you. This is the opposite of Social Stigma (p. 155); membership in a given social group cannot result in both Social Regard and Social Stigma. Social Regard costs 5 points per +1 to reaction rolls, to a maximum of +4. This is not a Reputation, despite the similarities in cost and effect. You are treated well because of what you are, not because of who you are. Think of it as “privilege by association.” The way you are treated on a good reaction roll will depend on the type of Regard:

Venerated: Total strangers react to you in a caring way. They give up seats, let you ahead of them in lines, and receive your every word as pearls of wisdom. They also take great pains to prevent you from putting yourself in danger or even discomfort – even when you need to do so! Example: an elderly person in many societies.

Feared: Others will react to you much as if you had successfully used Intimidation skill (p. 202). Those who like you stand aside, while those who dislike you flee rather than risk a confrontation. You are met with silent deference, and perhaps even respect, but never friendly familiarity. Examples: a god among men or an Amazon warrior. Respected: You receive polite and obsequious deference, much as if you had high Status (p. 28), regardless of your actual Status. Social interactions other than combat usually go smoothly for you – but there will be times when the kowtowing gets in the way. Examples: a member of a priest caste or a ruling race.

Interface Crossing: You can talk to those outside of the water while submerged, and can understand people on the surface talking to you. +50%.

Speak Underwater 3 1

5 points

You can talk normally while submerged, and you can understand what others say while underwater.

Special Enhancements

Speak With Animals 2 1

25 points

You can converse with animals. The quality of information you receive depends on the beast’s IQ and the GM’s decision on what the animal has to say. Insects and other tiny creatures might only be able to convey emotions such as hunger and fear, while a chimp or a cat might be able to engage in a reasonably intelligent discussion. It takes one minute to ask one question and get the answer – if the animal decides to


speak at all. The GM may require a reaction roll (+2 to reactions if you offer food). The GM is free to rule that alien, unnatural, or mythical beasts don’t count as “animals” for the purpose of this advantage.

Special Limitations Specialized: You can only communicate with certain animals. “All land animals” (including birds, insects, and land-dwelling mammals and reptiles) or “All aquatic animals” (including amphibians, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, and cetaceans) is -40%; one class (e.g., “Mammals” or “Birds”), -50%; one family (e.g., “Felines” or “Parrots”), -60%; one species (e.g., “House Cats” or “Macaws”), -80%.

Speak With Plants 2 1

15 points

You can communicate empathically with plants. All earthly plants are IQ 0, but a large tree might be “wiser” than the average ivy, at the GM’s whim. A plant might know how recently it was watered or walked on, or something else that directly bears on its well-being, but would be unable to relate an overheard phone conversation. Any normal plant will always cooperate, within the limits of its ability. A mutant cabbage from Mars might require a reaction roll!


Special Rapport 2 5

5 points

You have a unique bond with another person. This acts as a potent version of Empathy (p. 51) that works only with one person, without regard to distance. You always know when your partner is in trouble, in pain, lying, or in need of help, no matter where he is. This requires no IQ roll. Your partner receives the same benefits with respect to you. Both partners in a Special Rapport must buy this advantage. Your partner need not be a lover, or even a close friend, but the GM has the final say. In particular, the GM may wish to forbid PCs from buying Special Rapports with powerful NPCs who would otherwise qualify as Patrons (or allow it, but require an Unusual Background).

can get a feeling for the general intentions of any spirit you encounter by making a successful IQ roll. As well, your Influence skills (Diplomacy, Sex Appeal, etc.) work normally on spirits, which sets you aside from most mortals. Spirit Empathy does not prevent evil or mischievous spirits from seeking to harm you, but at the GM’s option, it might make it easier to detect and counter their plots.

Special Limitations Specialized: You are naturally in tune with the customs and moods of one specific class of spirits. Possibilities include angels, demons, elementals, faerie, ghosts, and anything else the GM wishes to allow. -50%.

Stretching is ideal for machines with telescoping mechanisms. A super with a “rubber body” should add some combination of Elastic Skin, Double-Jointed, Morph, and Super Jump. Spines 3 1

Status 1 or 3 points

You have sharp spines, like those of a porcupine or an echidna, located on strategic parts of your body. This is defensive weaponry, intended to discourage attackers; you cannot use your Spines actively. However, you get a DX-4 roll to hit each foe in close combat with you once per turn, as a free action. Roll at +2 against foes who attacked you from behind. Those who grapple or slam you are hit immediately and automatically – and those who slam you take maximum damage! Short Spines: One or two inches long. Do 1d-2 impaling damage. Reach C. 1 point. Long Spines: One or two feet long. Do 1d impaling damage. Reach C. 3 points.

Spirit Empathy 2 5

10 points

You are in tune with spirits, and receive the benefits of Empathy (p. 51) when dealing with them. You


see p. 28 High Status is an advantage, and should be noted on your character sheet.

Stretching 3 1

6 points/level

You can stretch your body in any direction. Each level of Stretching lets you increase your effective SM by +1 with any body part without increasing your overall SM. You can elongate your arms to increase reach (but not swinging damage, as Stretching gives no extra mass or muscle), your legs to negotiate obstacles, your neck to see over barriers, etc. For more information, see Size Modifier and Reach (p. 402). Your body parts grow or shrink at the rate of ±1 SM per second. By itself, Stretching is ideal for machines with telescoping manipulators. A super with a “rubber body” should add some combination of Elastic Skin (p. 51), Double-Jointed (p. 56), Morph (p. 84), and Super Jump (p. 89).


Striker 3 1

5, 6, 7, or 8 points

You have a body part that you can use to strike an aimed blow, but not to manipulate objects (see Extra Arms, p. 53) or walk on (see Extra Legs, p. 54). This might be a set of horns or protruding tusks, a heavy tail, a stinger, or any number of other natural weapons. Your Striker can attack at reach C (“close combat only”), inflicting thrust damage at +1 per die; e.g., 2d-1 becomes 2d+1. Damage is crushing or piercing for 5 points, large piercing for 6 points, cutting for 7 points, or impaling for 8 points. See Innate Attack (p. 61) for details. Roll against DX or Brawling to hit with your Striker. You can also use it to parry as if you had a weapon. Use the higher of (DX/2) + 3 or your Brawling parry.

Special Enhancements Long: Your Striker is long relative to your body. This increases your effective SM for the purpose of calculating reach (see Size Modifier and Reach, p. 402). +100% per +1 to SM if you can attack at any reach from C to maximum, or +75% per +1 to SM if you can only attack at maximum reach (and never in close combat).

Special Limitations Cannot Parry: You cannot parry with your Striker. -40%. Clumsy: Your Striker is unusually inaccurate. This is common for tails and similar Strikers aimed from outside your usual arc of vision. -20% per -1 to hit. Limited Arc: Your Striker can only attack straight ahead, straight behind, etc. Specify a direction when you buy the Striker. If your target isn’t in the right place, and you cannot maneuver to put him there, you cannot attack him at all. -40%. Weak: Your Striker is unusually blunt or light, or simply incapable of using your full ST. It inflicts only basic thrust damage, without the +1 per die. -50%.

Striking ST 3 1

5 points per +1 ST

You can strike more powerful blows than your ST score would indicate. Add Striking ST to base ST

solely for the purpose of calculating thrust and swing damage (see Damage Table, p. 16). Striking ST has no effect on HP or Basic Lift. If you bought your ST with the No Fine Manipulators or Size limitation, apply the same limitation(s) to Striking ST.

Subsonic Hearing 3 1

0 or 5 points

You can hear very low-frequency sounds (under 40 Hz), such as the rumble of distant storms, the vibrations from incipient earthquakes, and the approach of stampeding herd beasts, armored vehicles, or dragons. This gives +1 to Tracking skill if your quarry is moving on the ground. Cost depends on your capabilities: You can hear very low-frequency sounds only: 0 points. You can hear very low-frequency sounds and other sounds: 5 points. Note that Subsonic Hearing is included in the cost of Subsonic Speech (below); you cannot take both traits.

Subsonic Speech 3 1

0 or 10 points

You can converse using extremely low-frequency sounds. This trait includes Subsonic Hearing, above. Subsonic speech is slow (half-speed), and even if the frequency is shifted into the normal range, subsonic speakers are at -2 to Fast-Talk and any other skill where versatile speaking is important. However, subsonic speech carries twice as far as normal speech. Cost depends on your capabilities: You can only communicate via Subsonic Speech: 0 points. You can switch between regular speech and Subsonic Speech at will: 10 points.

Super Climbing 3 1

3 points/level

You can climb very quickly. Each level of Super Climbing gives you +1 Move when climbing or using the Clinging advantage (p. 43).

Super Jump 3 1

10 points/level

You can make superhuman leaps! Each level of Super Jump doubles the

distance and height you can achieve when jumping (see Jumping, p. 352). Your Move while jumping is the greater of your normal ground Move and 1/5 your maximum long jump distance (thus, your maximum jump never takes more than five seconds). For instance, if your long jump were 100 yards, your jumping Move would be the greater of 20 and your normal ground Move. You can jump at a foe in order to slam him. Figure the slam at your maximum jumping Move! You don’t need to make a separate roll to jump accurately. Finally, if you fall a distance less than or equal to your maximum high jump, you take no damage. You can increase this distance by five yards with a successful Acrobatics roll.

Super Luck 2 5

100 points

You are not just lucky – you have limited control over probability. Once per hour of play, you may dictate the result of any one die roll you make (or the GM makes for you) instead of rolling the dice. Wholly impossible attempts cannot succeed (your effective skill level must be at least 3), but you can choose any result that would be possible – however improbable – on a single normal die roll. You can have Super Luck and any degree of “normal” Luck, but no one can take Super Luck more than once!

Supernatural Durability 35

150 points

Like a vampire or psycho killer from a horror movie, you can “shake off” most wounds. Injury comes off HP as usual, and you suffer knockback, but you are completely immune to shock, physical stun, and knockout. You don’t need High Pain Threshold – this ability includes that one, and is far more potent! As long as you have 0 or more HP, you are also immune to crippling injuries, and have your full Move. Below 0 HP, you are at half Move, and can be crippled, but you won’t die unless you are wounded by an attack to which you are specifically vulnerable (see below). The sole exception to this is a single attack that inflicts an


injury of 10¥HP or more. That much damage at once will blow you apart, killing you. To die, you must first be wounded to -HP or worse. After that, one specific item can kill you. You must specify this when you buy Supernatural Durability. Valid categories appear under Limited Defenses (p. 46); the item that can kill you must be of “Occasional” rarity or higher. If wounds from this item ever reduce your HP to the point where a normal human would have to make HT rolls to survive, you must make those HT rolls or die. If this item wounds you to -5¥HP, you die automatically. If you are already below -5¥HP from other damage, any wound from this item will kill you. Any item to which you have a Vulnerability (p. 161) can also kill you in this way.

Talent 2


You have a natural aptitude for a set of closely related skills. “Talents” come in levels, and give the following benefits: • A bonus of +1 per level with all affected skills, even for default use. This effectively raises your attribute scores for the purpose of those skills only; thus, this is an inexpensive way to be adept at small class of skills. (Generalists will find it more costeffective to raise attributes.) • A bonus of +1 per level on all reaction rolls made by anyone in a position to notice your Talent, if he would be impressed by your aptitude (GM’s judgment). To receive this bonus, you must demonstrate your Talent – most often by using the affected skills. • A reduction in the time required to learn the affected skills in play, regardless of how you learn them. Reduce the time required by 10% per level of Talent; e.g., Animal Friend 2 would let you learn animal-related skills in 80% the usual time. This has no effect on the point cost of your skills. You may never have more than four levels of a particular Talent. However, overlapping Talents can give skill bonuses (only) in excess of +4.


Cost of Talents The cost of a Talent depends on the size of the group of skills affected: Small (6 or fewer related skills): 5 points/level. Medium (7 to 12 related skills): 10 points/level. Large (13 or more related skills): 15 points/level. Skills with multiple specialties are considered to be one skill for this purpose. Once you buy a Talent, the list of affected skills is fixed. (Exception: The GM may rule that a Talent affects new skills appearing in later GURPS supplements, or skills he invents in the course of the campaign, if the Talent would logically be of value to those skills.)

Examples of Talents The following Talents are considered standard, and exist in most campaigns: Animal Friend: Animal Handling, Falconry, Packing, Riding, Teamster, and Veterinary. Reaction bonus: all animals. 5 points/level. Artificer: Armoury, Carpentry, Electrician, Electronics Repair, Engineer, Machinist, Masonry, Mechanic, and Smith. Reaction bonus: anyone you do work for. 10 points/level. Business Acumen: Accounting, Administration, Economics, Finance, Gambling, Market Analysis, Merchant, and Propaganda. Reaction bonus: anyone you do business with. 10 points/level. Gifted Artist: Artist, Jeweler, Leatherworking, Photography, and Sewing. Reaction bonus: anyone buying or critiquing your work. 5 points/level. Green Thumb: Biology, Farming, Gardening, Herb Lore, and Naturalist. Reaction bonus: gardeners and sentient plants. 5 points/level. Healer: Diagnosis, Esoteric Medicine, First Aid, Pharmacy, Physician, Physiology, Psychology, Surgery, and Veterinary. Reaction bonus: patients, both past and present. 10 points/level. Mathematical Ability: Accounting, Astronomy, Cryptography, Engineer, Finance, Market Analysis, Mathematics, and Physics. Reaction bonus: engineers and scientists. 10 points/level.



Musical Ability: Group Performance (Conducting), Musical Composition, Musical Influence, Musical Instrument, and Singing. Reaction bonus: anyone listening to or critiquing your work. 5 points/level. Outdoorsman: Camouflage, Fishing, Mimicry, Naturalist, Navigation, Survival, and Tracking. Reaction bonus: explorers, nature lovers, and the like. 10 points/level. Smooth Operator: Acting, Carousing, Detect Lies, Diplomacy, Fast-Talk, Intimidation, Leadership, Panhandling, Politics, Public Speaking, Savoir-Faire, Sex Appeal, and Streetwise. Reaction bonus: con artists, politicians, salesmen, etc. – but only if you are not trying to manipulate them. 15 points/level.

Custom Talents At the GM’s option, you may create your own Talent with a custom skill list. However, the GM’s word is law when determining which skills are “related” and how may points the Talent is worth. Talents should always be believable inborn aptitudes. For instance, Sports Talent might make sense – some athletes really do seem to have a gift – but the GM ought to forbid Ninja Talent or Weapon Talent (but see Weapon Master, p. 99).

Teeth 3 1

0, 1, or 2 points

Anyone with a mouth has blunt teeth that can bite for thrust-1 crushing damage. This costs 0 points, and is typical of most herbivores. You have a more damaging bite: Sharp Teeth: Like those of most carnivores. Inflict thrust-1 cutting damage. 1 point. Sharp Beak: Like that of a bird of prey. Inflicts thrust-1 large piercing damage. 1 point. Fangs: Like those of a Smilodon. Inflict thrust-1 impaling damage. 2 points.

Telecommunication 2/3 1


You can communicate over long distances without speaking aloud. You can send words at the speed of ordinary speech or pictures at the

speed at which you could draw them. To establish contact requires one second of concentration and an IQ roll. After that, no concentration is required. You can maintain multiple contacts, but the IQ roll is at a cumulative -1 per contact after the first. Telecommunication works amid even the loudest noises, although interference and jamming can disrupt your signal. Those with suitable equipment may attempt to locate, intercept, or jam your transmission. This requires an Electronics Operation (Communications) roll for an electromagnetic signal, an Electronics Operation (Psychotronics) roll for a psionic signal, and so forth. Each variety of Telecommunication is a separate advantage with its own benefits and drawbacks. Some forms have limited range, which you can adjust using Increased Range (p. 106) or Reduced Range (p. 115). Infrared Communication: You communicate using a modulated infrared beam. Base range is 500 yards in a direct line of sight. The short range and line-of-sight requirement make jamming and eavesdropping almost impossible under normal circ*mstances. You can only communicate with those who have this advantage or an infrared communicator. 10 points. Laser Communication: You communicate using a modulated laser beam. Base range is 50 miles in a direct line of sight. The narrow beam and line-of-sight requirement make it extremely hard to eavesdrop on you. You can only communicate with people who have this advantage or a laser communicator. 15 points. Radio: You communicate using radio waves. Base range is 10 miles. Your signal is omnidirectional, but because you can shift frequencies, eavesdroppers must still roll vs. Electronics Operation (Communications) to listen in. A side benefit of this ability is that you can receive AM, FM, CB, and other ordinary radio signals on an IQ roll (takes one second). Note that radio-frequency “noise” from lightning and unshielded electronics can interfere with Radio. Radio does not work at all underwater. 10 points.


Telesend: You can transmit thoughts directly to others via magic, psi, or other exotic means (be specific!). Your subject receives your thoughts even if he lacks this ability. Range is theoretically unlimited, but the IQ roll to use this ability takes the range penalties given under LongDistance Modifiers (p. 241). If you cannot see or otherwise sense your subject, you have an additional penalty: -1 for family, lovers, or close friends; -3 for casual friends and acquaintances; or -5 for someone met only briefly. 30 points.

Special Enhancements Broadcast: This enhancement is only available for Telesend. It lets you send your thoughts to everyone in a radius around you. This requires an IQ roll at the long-distance modifier for the desired radius, plus an additional -4. +50%. Short Wave: This is only available for Radio. You can bounce your signal off a planet’s ionosphere (if the planet has one). This lets you transmit to (or receive from) any point on the planet. Note that solar flares, weather, etc. can disrupt short-wave communications. +50%. Universal: Your messages are automatically translated into your subject’s language. The GM may limit this enhancement to individuals from advanced tech levels, or restrict it to Telesend. +50%. Video: You are not limited to simple pictures! You can transmit real-time video of anything you can see. +40%.

Special Limitations Racial: Your ability only works on those of your own race or a very similar race, per Mind Reading (p. 69). -20%. Receive Only: You can receive but not send. This limitation is not available for Telesend. -50%. Send Only: You can send but not receive. This limitation is not available for Telesend. -50%. Telepathic: Your ability is part of the Telepathy psi power (see p. 257). -10%. Vague: You cannot send speech or pictures. You can only send a simple code (e.g., Morse code) – or general concepts and emotions, in the case of Telesend. -50%.


Telekinesis 2/3 1

GM may assess any penalty he feels is appropriate.

You can move objects without touching them. In effect, you manifest an invisible force that acts under your conscious direction at a distant point. Specify how you do this; possibilities include magnetism, psionic psychokinesis, an ultra-tech “tractor beam,” or a supernatural “poltergeist effect.” You can manipulate distant objects just as if you were grasping them in a pair of hands with ST equal to your Telekinesis (TK) level. You can move any object you have strength enough to lift, at a Move equal to your TK level, modified as usual for encumbrance level (see Encumbrance and Move, p. 17). Regardless of level, maximum range is 10 yards. To modify range, take Increased Range (p. 106) or Reduced Range (p. 115). Telekinesis requires constant concentration to use. In combat, this means you must take a Concentrate maneuver on your turn. Your TK may then perform one standard maneuver as if were a disembodied pair of hands at some point within your range: a Ready maneuver to pick up an object; a Move maneuver to lift and carry it; an Attack maneuver to throw it, or to grab or strike directly; and so on.

Grappling and Striking: You can use TK to attack a foe directly. Roll against DX or an unarmed combat skill to hit. Your foe defends as if attacked by an invisible opponent (see Visibility, p. 394). If you grapple, your foe cannot grab hold of the TK force, but he can try to break free as usual – and if he also has TK, he can take a Concentrate maneuver and use his TK level instead of his ST. The turn after you grapple a foe using TK, your TK can use a Move maneuver to pick him up off the ground, provided you have enough TK to lift his weight. Someone in this position can’t do anything that relies on ground contact (run, retreat, etc.), but can perform any other action that is possible while grappled.

5 points/level

Example: On your turn in combat, you take a Concentrate maneuver and state that your TK is taking an Attack maneuver to grab a gun from a foe. The following turn, you can Concentrate again and specify that your TK is taking an Aim or Wait maneuver to cover your enemy with the gun, an Attack maneuver to shoot him, or a Move maneuver to bring the gun to your hand. No rolls are necessary for ordinary lifting and movement. For more complex actions, the GM might require you to make a DX or skill roll. In situations where you would roll against ST, roll against your TK level instead. All of the above assumes that you are using TK to perform a task at a distance. TK can also discreetly assist you with such skills as Gambling (especially to cheat!), Lockpicking, and Surgery. In general, anything that would benefit from High Manual Dexterity (p. 59) gets a +4 bonus if you can successfully make an IQ roll to use your TK properly. On a failure, the


metals: iron (including steel), nickel, and cobalt. -50%. Psychokinetic: Your ability is part of the Psychokinesis psi power (see p. 256). This makes it mental (2) rather than physical (3). -10%. Visible: Your TK is not an invisible force, but a disembodied hand, glowing “tractor beam,” or similar. This makes it much easier for others to defend against your TK attacks (do not use the Visibility rules). -20%.

Telescopic Vision 3 1

5 points/level

You can “zoom in” with your eyes as if using binoculars. Each level lets you ignore -1 in range penalties to Vision rolls at all times, or -2 in range penalties if you take an Aim maneuver to zoom in on a particular target. This

Telekinesis: Possibilities include magnetism, psionic psychokinesis, an ultra-tech “tractor beam,” or a supernatural “poltergeist effect.” Levitation: If you have enough TK to lift your own body weight, you can levitate. Take the Concentrate maneuver and have your TK take Move maneuvers to propel your body. For true psychokinetic flight, take Flight (p. 56) with the Psychokinetic limitation (below). Throwing: By applying a TK impulse for a fraction of a second, you can throw objects faster (and farther) than you can move them. Take a Concentrate maneuver and have your TK take an Attack maneuver. This works just as if you were throwing the object with ST equal to your TK level. Roll against Throwing or Thrown Weapon skill to hit, depending on the object being hurled. For 1/2D and Max purposes, measure range from the object (not yourself!) to the target; for the purpose of range penalties, use the sum of the distance from you to the object and from the object to the target. Once you throw something, you have “released” your telekinetic grip – your TK must take a Ready maneuver to pick it up again.

Special Limitations Magnetic: Your TK is “super magnetism,” and only affects ferrous


ability can also function as a telescopic sight, giving up to +1 Accuracy per level with ranged attacks provided you take an Aim maneuver for seconds equal to the bonus (see Scopes under Firearm Accessories, p. 411). The benefits of this trait are not cumulative with those of technological aids such as binoculars or scopes. If you have both, you must opt to use one or the other.

Special Limitations No Targeting: Your field of vision is broad and not “zeroed” to your ranged attacks. You get no Accuracy bonus in combat. -60%.

Temperature Control 2/3 1

5 points/level

You can alter the ambient temperature. Heating or cooling is limited to 20° per level, and occurs at a rate of 2° per level per second of concentration. You can affect a two-yard radius at a distance of up to 10 yards. Use Increased Range (p. 106) or Reduced Range (p. 115) to modify range; add levels of Area Effect (p. 102) to increase radius.

This ability never does damage directly. For that, buy Innate Attack – usually either burning (for flame) or fatigue (for attacks that damage by altering body temperature).

Special Limitations Cold: You can only decrease the temperature. -50%. Heat: You can only increase the temperature. -50%. Psychokinetic: Your ability is part of the Psychokinesis psi power (see p. 256), often called “cryokinesis” (for cold) or “pyrokinesis” (for heat). -10%.

Temperature Tolerance 3

1 point/level

Every character has a temperature “comfort zone” within which he suffers no ill effects (such as FP or HP loss) due to heat or cold. For ordinary humans, this zone is 55° wide and falls between 35° and 90°. For nonhumans, the zone can be centered anywhere, but this is a 0-point feature for a zone no larger than 55°. A larger zone is an advantage. Each level of Temperature Tolerance adds HT degrees to your comfort zone, distributed in any way you wish between the “cold” and “hot” ends of the zone. Temperature Tolerance confers no special resistance to attacks by fire or ice unless the only damage is a result of a rise or fall in the ambient temperature. In particular, it cannot help you if your body temperature is being manipulated. In a realistic campaign, the GM should limit normal humans to Temperature Tolerance 1 or 2. However, high levels of this trait are likely for nonhumans with fur or a heavy layer of fat.

Temporal Inertia 2 5

15 points

You are strongly rooted in probability. If history changes, you can remember both versions. If you are involved in a genuine time paradox, you are not erased, even if the rest of your world is! You have a place in the new timeline, whatever it is, and remember all your experiences – even the ones that never happened. (In an extreme case, you have two complete sets of memories, and must make an

IQ roll any time you have to distinguish between them under stress . . . you might need Acting skill to stay out of the lunatic asylum.) There is a drawback: there is a “you” in any parallel or split timeline you encounter, and he is as similar to you as the timeline allows. This trait is only worthwhile in a campaign in which paradoxes or changes in history – erasing past events or whole timelines – are possible. See Unique (p. 160) for the opposite of this advantage.

Temporary Rank see Rank, p. 29

Tenure 4

5 points

You have a job from which you cannot normally be fired. You can only lose your job (and this trait) as the result of extraordinary misbehavior: assault, gross immorality, etc. Otherwise, your employment and salary are guaranteed for life. This is most common among modern-day university professors, but also applies to judges, priests, senators, etc. in many societies.

Terrain Adaptation 3 1

0 or 5 points

You do not suffer DX or Move penalties for one specific type of unstable terrain: ice, sand, snow, etc. Cost depends on your capabilities: You can function normally on one specific type of unstable terrain, but suffer the DX and Move penalties that most characters experience on that terrain type when you traverse solid ground: 0 points. You can function at full DX and Move both on solid ground and on one particular type of unstable terrain: 5 points. You must buy this ability separately for each terrain type.

Terror 2 5

30 points + 10 points per -1 to Fright Check

You can unhinge the minds of others. There are many way this effect can manifest: a chilling howl,


mind-warping body geometry, or even divine awe or unbearable beauty. When you activate this ability, anyone who sees you or hears you (choose one when you buy this trait) must roll an immediate Fright Check (see Fright Checks, p. 360). Modifiers: All applicable modifiers under Fright Check Modifiers (p. 360). You can buy extra penalties to this Fright Check for 10 points per -1 to the roll. Your victims get +1 per Fright Check after the first within 24 hours. If a victim succeeds at his Fright Check, he will be unaffected by your Terror for one hour. Add the Melee Attack limitation (p. 112) if your Terror affects only those you touch.

Special Limitations Always On: You cannot turn off your Terror to engage in normal social activities. This limitation often accompanies the extreme levels of Appearance – usually Hideous or worse, but possibly also Transcendent! -20%.

Trained By A Master 2

30 points

You have been trained by – or are – a true master of the martial arts. Your exceptional talent means you have half the usual penalty to make a Rapid Strike (see Melee Attack Options, p. 370), or to parry more than once per turn (see Parrying, p. 376). These benefits apply to all your unarmed combat skills (Judo, Karate, etc.) and Melee Weapon skills. Furthermore, you can focus your inner strength (often called “chi”) to perform amazing feats! This permits you to learn Flying Leap, Invisibility Art, Power Blow, and many other skills – anything that requires this advantage as a prerequisite (see Chapter 4). The GM is free to set prerequisites for this advantage if he wishes. Common examples from fiction include Judo, Karate, Melee Weapon skills, Philosophy, and Theology. This ability is definitely “larger than life.” The GM may wish to forbid it in a realistic campaign.


True Faith 2 5

15 points

You have a profound religious faith that protects you from “evil” supernatural beings such as demons and vampires. To enjoy this protection, you must actively assert your faith by wielding a physical symbol revered by your religion (e.g., crucifix, Torah, or Koran), chanting, dancing, or whatever else is appropriate to your beliefs. If you wish to use this ability in combat – to repel zombies, for instance – then you must choose the Concentrate maneuver each turn, and can do nothing else. For as long as you assert your faith, no malign supernatural entity (GM’s judgment as to what this covers) may approach within one yard of you. If one is forced into this radius, it must leave by the most direct route possible, as if it suffered from Dread (p. 132). If it cannot leave without coming closer, it must make a Will roll. On a success, it may run past you to escape, pushing you aside if necessary (but using only the minimum force required to escape). On a failure, the monster is cowed. It must cower, helplessly, and cannot move, defend itself, or take any other action. To keep True Faith, you must behave in a manner consistent with your religion. You will nearly always have to take and adhere to one or more of the traits listed under Self-Imposed Mental Disadvantages (p. 121). In effect, True Faith comes with a built-in Pact limitation (p. 113); do not apply this modifier again. You do not have to be kind, loving, or law-abiding, however. A violent bigot or religious terrorist can be just as sincere in his religious devotion as a saintly ascetic.

downward for soft rock or loose earth. Each halving of your Tunneling Move gives +1 on this roll.

Ultrahearing 3 1

0 or 5 points

You can hear sounds in the frequencies above the normal range of human hearing (20 kHz). This allows you to hear dog whistles, sonar, motion detectors, etc. You can detect active sonar at twice its effective range. Cost depends on your capabilities: You can hear only high-frequency sounds: 0 points. You can hear high-frequency sounds and other sounds: 5 points. This advantage is included in Ultrasonic Speech, below; if you have Ultrasonic Speech, you cannot take this as well (but don’t need to).

You can only communicate via Ultrasonic Speech: 0 points. You can switch between regular speech and Ultrasonic Speech at will: 10 points.

Ultravision 3 1

0 or 10 points

You can see ultraviolet light (UV). Solar UV is present outdoors during the day, even under cloud cover, but is stopped by window glass or any solid barrier (earth, stone, etc.). Fluorescent lamps also emit UV. Provided UV is present, you can make out more colors than those with normal vision. This helps you discern outlines; spot trace quantities of dust, dyes, etc.; and identify minerals and plants. You get +2 to all Vision rolls made in the presence of UV, as well as to all Forensics, Observation, and Search rolls to spot clues or hidden objects.

Tunneling 3 1

30 points + 5 points per point of Tunneling Move

You can bore through earth and stone, spewing rubble behind you. The passage you dig is wide enough for you to walk through. You move through stone at half normal Tunneling Move. The GM may wish to assess a chance that your tunnel collapses behind you. Roll each minute vs. the highest of Engineer (Mining), Prospecting-3, and IQ-4 to dig a stable tunnel. This can be modified upward for hard rock and


Ultrasonic Speech 3 1

0 or 10 points

You can converse in the ultrasonic range. This advantage includes Ultrahearing, above. Note that many creatures find it intensely annoying or even painful to be within earshot of sustained ultrasonic pitches! Cost depends on your capabilities:


At night, a small amount of UV reaches the ground from the stars. This doesn’t let you see in the dark, but it does let you ignore -2 in darkness penalties (cumulative with Night Vision). UV penetrates farther underwater than visible light. This lets you halve all vision penalties underwater (but in total darkness, you are as blind as anyone else). Cost depends on your capabilities:

You can only see UV, and are blind indoors, underground, or anywhere else there is no UV, even when there are normal light sources present: 0 points. You can see both visible light and UV: 10 points.

Unaging 3 1

Unkillable 3 1

50 to 150 points

15 points

You never grow old naturally and cannot be aged unnaturally. Your age is fixed at any point you choose and will never change. You never have to make aging rolls.

Special Enhancements Age Control: You can “age” in either direction at will, at up to 10 times the normal rate. +20%.

Unfazeable 2

no special resistance to poison, though; for that, buy Resistant (p. 80). One side benefit of this trait is that you can quickly and safely dispose of any nontoxic, organic evidence by eating it!

15 points

Nothing surprises you – at least, nothing that’s not obviously a threat. The world is full of strange things, and as long as they don’t bother you, you don’t bother them. You are exempt from Fright Checks, and reaction modifiers rarely affect you either way. You treat strangers with distant courtesy, no matter how strange they are, as long as they’re well-behaved. You have the normal reaction penalty toward anyone who does something rude or rowdy, but you remain civil even if forced to violence. Intimidation (p. 202) just does not work on you. You are not emotionless – you just never display strong feelings. The stereotypical aged kung fu master or English butler has this trait. You must roleplay this advantage fully, or the GM can declare that it has been lost. In a campaign where Fright Checks are an hourly occurrence, the GM can charge 20 points – or more! – or disallow Unfazeable altogether. This advantage is incompatible with all Phobias.

Universal Digestion 3 1

5 points

You have remarkably adaptable digestive processes that let you derive nutrition from any nontoxic animal or plant protein, no matter how alien or fantastic. This enables you to subsist on things that would normally be harmless but non-nutritious. You have

You cannot be killed! You are subject to all the other effects of injury. You feel pain, your wounds slow you, and you can be stunned or knocked out. You lose the use of any limb that receives a crippling wound, and you might even lose the limb itself. You can even lose attribute levels, advantages, etc. to disease, injury, or poison. However, you will only die if your body is physically destroyed – and sometimes not even then. This advantage comes in three levels: Unkillable 1: Injury affects you normally, but you need never make a HT roll to stay alive. You can survive (and even function, if you remain conscious) down to -10¥HP, at which point your body is physically destroyed and you die. As long as you are alive, you heal at your usual rate – typically 1 HP/day, modified for any Regeneration (p. 80) you may have. Crippled limbs do heal, but severed limbs are gone for good unless you have Regrowth (p. 80). 50 points. Unkillable 2: As Unkillable 1, but you do not die at -10¥HP. Once you reach -10¥HP, you are reduced to an indestructible skeleton and automatically fall unconscious. You sustain no further damage from any attack. Once the damage stops, you heal normally – even if you’ve been hacked to pieces – and any severed body parts will grow back. You regain consciousness once you have positive HP. Note that your enemies can imprison your remains while you are unconscious, or even expose them to a source of continuous damage (fire is a common choice) to prevent you from healing. 100 points. Unkillable 3: As Unkillable 2, except that at -10¥HP, you become a ghost, an energy pattern, or some other incorporeal form that cannot be contained or damaged through normal means. At this stage, you fall unconscious and heal normally. Once you are at full HP, your fully intact body


will coalesce in a location of the GM’s choosing. 150 points. With the GM’s permission, if you have Unkillable 2 or 3 and are taken to -10¥HP, you can trade in Unkillable and use the points to buy a spirit or undead racial template (if such things exist in the setting), becoming a ghost, revenant, etc. once you heal all your HP. By default, you age normally, and will eventually die of old age. To be truly immortal, combine Unkillable with Unaging (above) – and possibly one or more of Doesn’t Breathe (p.49), Injury Tolerance (p. 60), Regeneration (p. 80), and Resistant (p. 80).

Special Limitations Achilles’ Heel: Damage from one particular source (possibly one to which you have a Vulnerability, p. 161) can kill you normally. You must make normal HT rolls to survive at -HP and below, and die automatically if this damage takes you below -5¥HP. The limitation value depends on the rarity of the attack, as defined under Limited Defenses (p. 46): -10% if “Rare,” -30% if “Occasional,” or -50% if “Common” or “Very Common.” Hindrance: A specific substance (e.g., silver or wood) prevents healing – whether by natural means or Regeneration – for as long as it remains in your body. Once you pass out from your injuries, you stay dormant until this substance is removed. The limitation value depends on the rarity of the substance: -5% if “Rare,” -15% if “Occasional,” or -25% if “Common.” Reincarnation: This is only available for Unkillable 2 or 3. When reduced to -10¥HP, you recover at your usual rate, but you wake up in an entirely new body with new abilities. The GM creates the new form (or may allow you to do so), but you always retain the Unkillable advantage. -20%. Trigger: This is only available for Unkillable 2 or 3. Once reduced to -10¥HP, you require some substance (such as human blood) or condition (such as a ritual) before you will start to heal. Until then, you will remain dormant. The limitation value depends on the rarity of the trigger: -25% if “Rare,” -15% if “Occasional,” or -5% if “Common” or “Very Common.”


Unusual Background 2

(p. 93), but none of these traits are required.

This is a “catch-all” trait that the GM can use to adjust the point total of any character with special abilities that are not widely available in the game world. “Special abilities” might mean cinematic traits, magic spells, exotic advantages (for a human), supernatural advantages (for anyone), or almost anything else – it depends on the setting. Players are free to suggest Unusual Backgrounds to the GM, but the GM decides whether a proposed Unusual Background is acceptable, and if so, what its cost and benefits are.

Vampiric Bite 3 1


Example 1: “Raised by wizards” to justify access to magic spells might be a 0-point special effect in a fantasy world where magic is common, a 10point Unusual Background in a conspiracy campaign where magic is known but kept secret, and a 50-point Unusual Background – or simply forbidden – in a horror game where a PC who wields supernatural power would reduce the suspense. Example 2: “Daughter of the God of Magic” to justify the Unkillable advantage would be an Unusual Background in any setting, and would be worth as much as the advantage itself – 50 points or more – if the GM allowed it at all. Not every unusual character concept merits an Unusual Background. The GM should only charge points when the character enjoys a tangible benefit. For instance, it would be unusual for a human to be raised by wolves, but unless this gave him special capabilities (such as Speak with Animals), it would be background color, worth 0 points.

Vacuum Support 3 1

5 points

You are immune to deleterious effects associated with vacuum and decompression (see Vacuum, p. 437). This advantage does not give you an air supply; buy Doesn’t Breathe (p. 49) for that. Those with Vacuum Support usually have the Sealed advantage (p. 82), and often have Radiation Tolerance (p. 79) and Temperature Tolerance


30 points + 5 points per extra HP drained

You can bite people and drain their life force, healing your own wounds in the process. You can only feed if your victim is helpless (pinned, stunned, unconscious, etc.), grappled, or willing. If he is wearing armor, your biting damage must penetrate its DR. Once you’ve bitten through your victim’s DR, you can drain 1 HP per second from him. For every 3 HP stolen, you heal 1 HP or 1 FP (your choice). You cannot raise your HP or FP above normal this way. The basic Vampiric Bite described above costs 30 points. You may buy increased HP drain for 5 points per additional HP drained per second; for instance, to drain 10 HP per second, pay 75 points. Vampiric Bite also lets you bite in combat without feeding. Treat this as Teeth (Sharp Teeth) or Teeth (Sharp Beak) (p. 91) – your choice. You do not need to purchase that advantage separately.

Versatile 2

a perfectly still, dark chamber, you would have only a vague notion of the size of the area, but you would be able to sense a barrier before you ran into it, and could find openings by sensing the flow of air or water. To use Vibration Sense, make a Sense roll. Consult the Size and Speed/Range Table (p. 550) and apply separate bonuses for the target’s size and speed, and a penalty for the range to the target. Wind (in air) or swift currents (in water) will generate “noise” that interferes with your sense. Find the speed of the wind or current on the table and assess the relevant speed penalty. A successful roll reveals the rough size, location, speed, and direction of movement of the target. It does not provide any information about the object’s shape, color, etc. Once you have detected something, you may target it with an attack. The modifiers that applied to your Sense roll also apply to your attack roll, but can never give you a bonus to hit. Note that if you are outside the element (air or water) where your ability functions, or if you are wearing a sealed suit, this ability does not work at all!

Special Enhancements 5 points

You are extremely imaginative. You get a +1 bonus on any task that requires creativity or invention, including most rolls against Artist skill, all Engineer rolls for new inventions, and all skill rolls made to use the Gadgeteer advantage.

Very Fit see Fit, p. 55

Very Rapid Healing see Rapid Healing, p. 79

Vibration Sense 3 1

10 points

You can detect the location and size of objects by sensing vibrations with your skin, whiskers, or antennae. You must specify whether this ability works in the air or in the water. Vibration Sense is not a substitute for vision. You can locate an opponent in the dark, but you cannot detect details (e.g., whether he is armed). In


Universal: Your Vibration Sense works both in the air and in the water. +50%.

Visualization 2 5

10 points

You can improve your chances at a task by visualizing yourself successfully performing it. The closer your mental picture is to the actual circ*mstances, the greater the bonus. The visualization must be detailed and must involve a clear and specific action. This makes it useless in combat, where the situation changes faster than you can visualize it. To use this talent, you must concentrate for one minute. You, the player, must describe the scene you visualize (which can include senses other than sight) and the results you hope to achieve. Then make an IQ roll. You get a +1 bonus to the action you visualized for every point by which you succeed – if the circ*mstances correspond almost exactly to the visualization. If they are not quite

the same, which will almost always be true, halve the bonus (minimum +1). And if something is clearly different, divide the bonus by 3 (no minimum). The GM can assess a further bonus of up to +2, or a penalty of any size, for a good or bad description!

Voice 3

10 points

You have a naturally clear, resonant, and attractive voice. This gives you +2 with the following skills: Diplomacy, Fast-Talk, Mimicry, Performance, Politics, Public Speaking, Sex Appeal, and Singing. You also get +2 on any reaction roll made by someone who can hear your voice.

Walk on Air 3 1

20 points

Air, smoke, and other gases are like solid ground beneath your feet, allowing you to walk up and down “invisible stairs” at your ground Move. This won’t work in a vacuum – there has to be some kind of air present. If you get knocked down or slip, you fall! You may attempt one DX roll per second of falling. If you succeed, you stop in thin air, unharmed. Otherwise, you hit the ground for normal falling damage (see Falling, p. 431).

Walk on Liquid 3 1

15 points

You can walk on the surface of any liquid as if it were solid ground. You move at your usual ground Move. This doesn’t protect you from any damage that you would take from coming into contact with the liquid, however. You can’t traverse volcanic lava or boiling acid without taking damage!

Warp 2 5

100 points

You have the ability to teleport, traveling from point to point without moving through the intervening space. To do so, you must be able to see your destination with your own eyes, or view it remotely (via closed-circuit TV, someone else’s eyes using Mind Reading with the Sensory enhancement, etc.), or visualize it clearly (which is only possible if you have visited it previously in person).



You can carry up to Basic Lift when you travel, plus any Payload (p. 74). To carry more, or to bring along other people, take the Extra Carrying Capacity enhancement (below). Make an IQ roll to activate your ability, modified as follows: Distance: Distance penalties appear on the table below. If actual distance falls between two values, use the higher. Distance 10 yards 20 yards 100 yards 500 yards 2 miles 10 miles 100 miles 1,000 miles

Penalty 0 -1 -2 -3 -4 -5 -6 -7

Add an additional -1 for each 10¥ increase in distance. Preparation Time: The amount of time taken to prepare for the teleport affects the IQ roll, as follows: Preparation Time None 1 second 2 seconds 4 seconds 8 seconds 15 seconds 30 seconds 1 minute 2 minutes 4 minutes 8 minutes 15 minutes 30 minutes 1 hour 2 hours 4 hours 8 hours

IQ Modifier -10 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5 +6 +7 +8 +9 +10

This table is not open-ended; +10 is the maximum possible bonus. Removal: If you have a “secondhand” view of the destination, you are at -2 per level of removal. For instance, seeing it on TV or through someone else’s eyes would give -2, while seeing it on a television set that you are viewing through someone else’s eyes would give -4. There is an additional -2 to teleport to a place you have visited but cannot see. Fatigue Points: Apply a bonus of +1 per FP spent. You must declare this


before you roll, and you lose the FP whether you succeed or fail. You never have to spend FP, but it is usually a good idea if you must travel far or without much preparation.

your carrying capacity is high enough, you may transport one person with you. Light encumbrance is +10%; Medium, +20%; Heavy, +30%; ExtraHeavy, +50%.

Wild Talent: You can simply do things without knowing how. It does apply to skills that normally have no default, provided you meet any advantage requirements. It has no effect on skills you already know.

On a success, you appear at your target destination. On a failure, you go nowhere and strain your power: you are at -5 to use it again in the next 10 minutes. On a critical failure, you arrive at the wrong destination. This can be anywhere the GM wishes! It need not be dangerous, but it should seriously inconvenience you. In addition, your power temporarily “burns out” and will not function again for 1d hours. You can use Warp to evade attacks in combat. Once per turn, you may teleport to any location you can see within 10 yards, instantly. This is considered a dodge. Of course, the IQ roll will be at -10 for instant use, so you might want to spend FP to improve your odds! You can improve this ability with practice, spending points to add enhancements or remove limitations. You cannot take Reduced Fatigue Cost or Reduced Time (p. 108); instead, take Reliable (below) so that you will need less time or fewer FP to teleport reliably.

Special Enhancements Blind: You can teleport to a specific set of coordinates (distance and direction) without seeing or having visited the destination. This gives you an extra -5 to your IQ roll! You must pay two FP per +1 bonus when using this enhancement. +50%. Extra Carrying Capacity: You can carry more than your Basic Lift. If


Reliable: Your power is stable and predictable. Each level of this enhancement gives +1 to the IQ roll to use this ability, allowing you to teleport with little preparation (e.g., in combat) or over long distances without spending as many FP to improve your odds. +5% per +1, to a maximum of +10. Warp Jump: This enhancement is only available if you have the Jumper advantage (p. 64). You must apply it to both Jumper and Warp. If you are both a time- and world-jumper, and wish to use Warp with both abilities, buy this enhancement twice. When you jump, you can simultaneously use Warp to appear anywhere at your destination. Two die rolls are necessary – one per ability – and it is possible for one to succeed while the other fails, or for both to fail. +10% per linked Jumper advantage.

Special Limitations Hyperjump: You physically move through “hyperspace” or “jump space” to journey between destinations. This is not true, instantaneous teleportation; you have an effective speed, which means the trip takes time. On long trips, you will need to address life-support needs! In addition, you cannot activate Hyperjump in atmosphere and you cannot travel distances shorter than one light-second (186,000 miles, -10 to IQ). This effectively limits you to space travel. There is one benefit to Hyperjump: if you possess

Navigation (Hyperspace) skill, you may substitute it for IQ. -50% if your effective speed is the speed of light (every 186,000 miles traveled takes one second); -25% if you can travel one light-year (-17 to IQ) per day. Naked: You can carry nothing when you teleport! You always arrive naked. -30%. Psionic Teleportation: Your ability is part of the Teleportation psi power (see p. 257). -10%. Range Limit: You cannot teleport more than a certain distance per hop. Choose a range and find its distance penalty above. The limitation is worth -5% ¥ (10 + penalty); e.g., 10 yards (-0) would be -50%, while 100 miles (-6) would be -20%. A range limit of more than 100,000 miles is not a meaningful limitation.

Wealth see p. 25 Above-average Wealth is an advantage, and should be noted on your character sheet.

Weapon Master 2


You have a high degree of training or unnerving talent with a particular class of muscle-powered weapons (swords, bows, etc. – not guns). Available classes are:

damage if you know the relevant weapon skill at DX+1. Add +2 per die if you know that skill at DX+2 or better. You also have half the usual penalty to make a Rapid Strike (see Melee Attack Options, p. 369), or to parry more than once per turn (see Parrying, p. 376). None of these benefits apply to default use. You are familiar with – if not proficient in – every weapon within your class. This gives you an improved default: DX/Easy weapon skills default to DX-1, DX/Average ones to DX-2, and DX/Hard ones to DX-3. Note that these skills are no easier to learn, and may not be “bought up” from the improved defaults in order to save points. Finally, you may learn any cinematic skill that names this advantage as a prerequisite (see Chapter 4) – e.g., Blind Fighting and Power Blow – if you could reasonably use that skill with your weapons of choice. The GM is the final arbiter in all cases. This trait is best suited to a “cinematic” swashbuckling game. The GM may wish to forbid it in a realistic campaign.

All muscle-powered weapons. 45 points. A large class of weapons. Examples: all bladed weapons, all onehanded weapons. 40 points. A medium class of weapons. Examples: all swords, all ninja weapons. 35 points. A small class of weapons. Examples: fencing weapons (maingauche, rapier, saber, and smallsword), knightly weapons (broadsword, mace, shield, and lance). 30 points. Two weapons normally used together. Examples: broadsword and shield, rapier and main-gauche. 25 points. One specific weapon. 20 points.

Wild Talent 2 5

In all cases, if a weapon can be thrown, the benefits of this advantage also apply when throwing that weapon. When using a suitable weapon, add +1 per die to basic thrust or swing

You can simply do things without knowing how. Once per game session per level of this advantage, you may attempt a roll against any skill, using your score in the appropriate attribute: IQ for IQ-based skills, DX

20 points/level


for DX-based skills, etc. You do not incur any default penalties, but situational and equipment modifiers apply normally, as do any modifiers for advantages or disadvantages. Tech level is irrelevant: a TL3 monk could make an IQ roll to use Computer Programming/TL12! Wild Talent does apply to skills that normally have no default, provided you meet any advantage requirements. For instance, you could cast unknown magic spells provided you had Magery, or use unknown cinematic martial-arts skills provided you have Trained By A Master. Wild Talent has no effect on skills you already know.

Special Enhancements Retention: You can learn the skills you use! To do so, you must have one unspent character point available when you attempt the skill roll. On a success, you may buy the skill at the one-point level. You cannot improve a skill learned this way for one month, during which time you use it at -2. On a critical success, you can start improving the skill immediately, and there is no -2. On a failure, you cannot learn the skill; on a critical failure, you also lose your unspent character point! Regardless of success, if you lack any of the skill’s prerequisites, your skill is at -4 until you acquire them, and you cannot improve the skill in the interim. This enhancement does not let you learn skills from a TL higher than your own. +25%.


Special Limitations Emergencies Only: Your Wild Talent only works in life-threatening situations, such as mortal combat. To use it, you must ask for a particular result related to your predicament. Your request must be specific (e.g., “Get him away from me.”), but you cannot specify a skill (e.g., “Use Judo” or “Cast the Command spell”). The GM will then choose a skill that could bring about the desired result. He is not limited to mundane skills; he may choose a spell if you have Magery, a cinematic martial-arts skill if you have Trained By A Master, and so forth. Once the GM has chosen, roll against the governing attribute, as usual. If the GM feels you already have skills equal to the task, he will advise you on which skill to use. This still counts as one of your uses of Wild Talent! -30%.

Focused: You can only use (and if you have Retention, learn) one specific class of skills. Options include Mental (mundane skills based on IQ, Perception, or Will), Physical (mundane skills based on ST, DX, or HT), Magical (spells), and Chi (cinematic martial-arts skill). -20%.

Xeno-Adaptability see Cultural Adaptability, p. 46

Zeroed 4

10 points

You do not officially exist. Even the highest authorities in the land know nothing about you. In a fantasy setting, you are a “mysterious wanderer”; magical divination cannot discover conclusive details about your past or true identity. In a high-tech world, you don’t appear in the public records – and if computer databases exist, they

contain no evidence of your existence. You must provide a reason for this; e.g., your parents hid you away at birth, you are legally dead, or you somehow managed to destroy all the records (explain how!). To maintain this status, you must deal strictly in cash or commodities. Credit and bank accounts must be blind (keyed to pass-code, not a person – the “Swiss bank account”) or set up through a Temporary Identity (see p. 31). If the authorities investigate you, they will initially assume that there has been an error. They will become increasingly concerned as no information can be found about your life. Eventually, they will attempt to apprehend you. If they can’t find you, then they’re likely to give up. But if they catch you, you are in for a thorough interrogation, possibly involving torture, mind probes, or worse. After all, a nonperson has no rights . . . and it will be very difficult for your allies to prove that you are being held, as you don’t officially exist!

PERKS A “perk” is a very minor advantage, worth only 1 point. Perks cannot be modified with enhancements or limitations, and they can be added in play without upsetting game balance. Otherwise, perks use the same rules as other advantages. The GM is encouraged to create new perks. No perk should provide wealth, social standing, or combat bonuses. A perk can provide a modest bonus (up to +2) to an attribute, skill, or reaction roll in relatively rare circ*mstances. The GM may allow more generous bonuses, if they apply only in extremely rare situations.

Accessory 3 1

Your body incorporates a tool or other useful gadget (e.g., a siren or a vacuum cleaner) that provides minor, noncombat benefits not otherwise covered by a specific advantage.

Alcohol Tolerance 3

Your body metabolizes alcohol with remarkable efficiency. You can drink steadily for an indefinite period with no major detrimental effects. Binging affects you as it would anyone else. You get +2 on all HT rolls related to drinking.



Autotrance 2

You can enter a trance at will. This requires one minute of complete concentration and a successful Will roll, at -1 per additional attempt per hour. This trance gives +2 on rolls to contact spirits, etc. You must make a Will roll to break your trance. If you fail, you can try again every five minutes.

Deep Sleeper 3

You can fall asleep in all but the worst conditions, and can sleep through most disturbances. You never suffer any ill effects due to the quality of your sleep. You get an IQ roll to notice disturbances and awaken, just like anyone else; success is automatic if you have Combat Reflexes.

Fur 3 1

You have fur. This prevents sunburn. Thicker fur might justify 1-3 levels each of Damage Resistance (p. 46) and Temperature Tolerance (p. 93), while spiky “fur” might grant Spines (p. 88). You must buy these other traits separately.

Honest Face 3

You simply look honest, reliable, or generally harmless. This has nothing to do with your reputation among those who know you, or how virtuous you really are! People who don’t know you will tend to pick you as the one to confide in, or not to pick you if they are looking for a potential criminal or troublemaker. You won’t be spotchecked by customs agents and the like unless they have another reason to suspect you, or unless they are truly choosing at random. You have a +1 to trained Acting skill for the sole purpose of “acting innocent.”

No Hangover 3

No matter how much you drink, you will never get a hangover. This does not mitigate the effects of intoxication – it just eliminates the unpleasant aftereffects.

Penetrating Voice 3

You can really make yourself heard! In situations where you want to be heard over noise, others get +3 to their

Hearing roll. At the GM’s option, you get +1 to Intimidation rolls if you surprise someone by yelling or roaring.

Sanitized Metabolism 3 1

You are totally clean. Your body produces minimal, sanitized waste products, and you never suffer from bad breath, excessive perspiration, or unsightly skin problems. This gives -1 to attempts to track you by scent and +1 to reaction rolls in close confines (cramped spaceships, submarines, elevators, etc.).

Shtick 2/3

You have a cool move or slick feature that sets you apart from the masses. This provides no combat or reaction bonuses, and you can’t use it to earn money, but it might occasionally give you some minor benefit in play (GM’s discretion). Example: your clothing is always spotless, even after combat or swimming the Nile; you can run, climb, fight, etc. while wearing high heels without suffering any special penalty for bad footing.

MODIFIERS A modifier is a feature that you can add to a trait – usually an advantage – to change the way it works. There are two basic types of modifiers: enhancements and limitations. Adding an enhancement makes the underlying trait more useful, while applying a limitation attaches additional restrictions to your ability.

Modifiers adjust the base cost of a trait in proportion to their effects. Enhancements increase the cost, while limitations reduce the cost. This is expressed as a percentage. For instance, a +20% enhancement would increase the point cost of an advantage by 1/5 its base cost, while a -50% limitation would reduce it by half its base cost.

Special Modifiers Many advantages, and some disadvantages, offer “special enhancements” and “special limitations.” These modifiers are generally applicable only to the specific trait(s) with which they are described. However, the GM may choose to extend the special modifiers of one particular trait to other, very similar traits.

Range, Area, and Duration for Advantages When applying modifiers, you occasionally need to know the range, area of effect, or duration of an advantage for which one or more of these quantities is not specified – for instance, when applying an enhancement that gives a range to an ability that normally has none. Assume that range is 100 yards, area is a circle 2 yards in radius (and 12’ high, should volume matter), and duration is 10 seconds, unless the advantage specifies otherwise. Exceptions will be noted.


You can apply any number of modifiers to a trait. Total them to find the net modifier, and then apply this modifier to the base cost of the trait. Round the resulting cost up to the next-highest whole number. For example, a +10% enhancement, a +40% enhancement, a -30% limitation, and a -45% limitation would give a net modifier of -25%. This would reduce the cost of a 10-point advantage to 7.5 points, which would round up to 8 points. Modifiers can never reduce cost by more than 80%. Treat a net modifier of -80% or worse as -80%. Thus, no matter how many limitations you take, you cannot lower the cost of a trait to less than 1/5 its base cost. The GM has the final say as to which traits you can modify, and in what ways. Some combinations make no sense (imagine Unaging with the Limited Use limitation!), others have potential for abuse, and still others might not suit the campaign. Percentile modifiers can also result in a lot of extra math. GMs who prefer to keep things simple may wish to prohibit modifiers altogether.


ENHANCEMENTS You can apply enhancements to advantages, and more rarely to basic attributes and secondary characteristics. The GM might even permit specific enhancements on certain skills, but this is difficult to justify unless the skill functions much as an advantage (which is sometimes true of racially innate skills possessed by nonhumans).

Accurate 6


Your attack is unusually accurate. Each +1 to Accuracy is a +5% enhancement.

Affects Insubstantial +20% Your ability affects insubstantial targets in addition to normal, substantial things.

Note to GMs: This enhancement is very powerful. It lets insubstantial characters affect the material world with little fear of retribution. Feel free to disallow it, restrict it to NPCs, or to make sure that lots of foes have the Affects Insubstantial enhancement!

Area Effect 6


Your ability works as an area power instead of affecting a single target. Everything in the area suffers the attack’s damage or other effects. On a miss, use the scatter rules (p. 414) to see where the area is centered. Active defenses don’t protect against an area attack, but victims may attempt to dive for cover or dodge and retreat to leave the area. For more information, see Area and Spreading Attacks (p. 413). Radius 2 yards 4 yards 8 yards 16 yards

Modifier +50% +100% +150% +200%

Attack Enhancements and Limitations Some enhancements and limitations are intended only for Affliction, Binding, and Innate Attack, and for advantages modified with the Ranged enhancement (p. 107). They are called “attack” modifiers. Certain of these have additional restrictions; e.g., Armor Divisor applies only to Affliction and Innate Attack. Attack enhancements and limitations are marked 6.

Turning Enhancements Off and On When you use an enhanced trait, you must use all of its enhancements unless a particular enhancement – or the underlying ability itself – explicitly allows you to turn an enhancement “off.” (The extended capabilities that many enhancements provide might have no effect in certain situations, but they are still on.) To be able to pick which enhancements are “on” at any given moment, take the Selectivity enhancement (p. 108).

Affects Substantial +40% Your ability affects substantial targets even when you are insubstantial. It also affects insubstantial creatures normally. (Do not add this enhancement to magical or psi abilities; these can already affect the substantial world at -3.)


Further levels continue to double the radius. If applied to an advantage that already covers an area, each level doubles the base radius. Area Effect is a prerequisite for Mobile (p. 107), Persistent (p. 107), Selective Area (p. 108), Bombardment (p. 111), and Emanation (p. 112).


Armor Divisor 6


Your attack can pierce more armor than its base damage would indicate. Armor Divisor (2) (3) (5) (10)

Modifier +50% +100% +150% +200%

Only Innate Attacks and Afflictions can have this enhancement. Armor Divisor is a “penetration modifier”; you cannot combine it with other penetration modifiers, such as Contact Agent (p. 103) and Follow-Up (p. 105).

Aura 6


Your attack takes the form of a malefic aura that affects anyone you touch (reach C) or who touches you. If a weapon strikes you, your aura affects the weapon. You can switch the aura on or off at the start of your turn (if not, take Always On, p. 110). You must take Aura in conjunction with Melee Attack (p. 112) at the -30% level (reach C), and you cannot claim the extra -5% for “cannot parry” – an aura cannot parry in the first place. The classic example of an Aura is the sheath of flame surrounding a fire elemental. See Body of Fire (p. 262) for how to write this up.

Based on (Different Attribute) 6


This enhancement is only available for abilities that allow a resistance roll against ST, DX, IQ, HT, Perception, or Will. It moves the resistance roll from the usual attribute or characteristic to a different one, specified when you buy the ability. This is considered an enhancement because it lets you finetune your ability to be more effective against targets with known weaknesses.

Blood Agent 6


On an attack with Area Effect or Cone, this is an enhancement. See the Blood Agent limitation (p. 110) for details.

Cone 6


Your attack spreads to affect everyone in a cone-shaped area. Cones use special rules; see Area and Spreading Attacks (p. 413). Decide on the maximum width of the cone, in yards, at the attack’s maximum range. Cone costs +50% plus +10% per yard of maximum width. You cannot combine Cone with Area Effect, Aura, Jet, Melee Attack, Rapid Fire, or Emanation.

Contact Agent 6


On an attack with Area Effect or Cone, this is an enhancement. See the Contact Agent limitation (p. 111) for more information.

Cosmic Variable Your ability operates on a “higher level” than is usual in your game world. This allows it to work under all circ*mstances, and possibly even ignore opposing powers! The value of the enhancement depends on the underlying trait: Ability other than an attack or a defense. Your ability is not subject to the usual built-in restrictions. For instance, your Healing might cure otherwise “incurable” diseases, your Insubstantiality might allow you to penetrate barriers that would block other insubstantial beings, or your Shapeshifting might be immune to negation by external forces. +50%. Defense or countermeasure. Your defensive trait provides its usual benefits against offensive abilities modified with the Cosmic enhancement. +50%. Attack with a lingering special effect. Your attack has an enduring effect that only another Cosmic power can counteract; e.g., a burning Innate Attack that sets fires that water cannot extinguish, or a toxic Innate Attack that inflicts Cyclic (below) damage that medical technology cannot halt. This does not negate the target’s protection! DR still affects Innate Attack, a HT roll is still allowed for a Resistible (p. 115) attack, etc. +100%. Irresistible attack. Your attack does negate the target’s protection; e.g., an Innate Attack that ignores DR, or

Mind Control that ignores Mind Shield. The target may still attempt an active defense against the attack, if applicable. You cannot combine this enhancement with other “penetration modifiers,” such as Follow-Up (p. 105). +300%.

Cyclic 6


This enhancement is only available for Innate Attacks that inflict burning, corrosion, fatigue, or toxic damage. It represents an attack that persists on the victim: acid, disease, liquid fire,


poison, etc. (For attacks that linger in the environment, see Persistent, p. 107.) A Cyclic attack damages its target normally – but once the target has been exposed, the attack damages him again each time a set interval passes! All penetration modifiers (e.g., Contact or Follow-Up) continue to apply; for instance, a Cyclic attack with Follow-Up continues to ignore DR. Worst of all, the victim cannot recover HP or FP lost to a Cyclic attack until the attack stops damaging him!


You must specify a reasonably common set of circ*mstances that halt any further damage from your attack. For instance, to halt cyclic corrosion or burning damage, the victim might have to wash the acid off or roll on the ground to extinguish the flames, taking one or more seconds and a DX or IQ roll. Fatigue or toxic damage might require drugs or medical care (use Physician skill). Details are up to the GM. The base value of Cyclic depends on the damage interval. Interval 1 second 10 seconds 1 minute 1 hour 1 day

Modifier +100% +50% +40% +20% +10%

Burning or corrosion attacks shouldn’t have intervals longer than 10 seconds. At the GM’s option, someone taking damage at one-second intervals might have to make a Fright Check! Multiply the base value by the number of cycles after the first. The GM should consider limiting large numbers of cycles to attacks that do less than 1d damage. Cyclic attacks are often Resistible (p. 115); if so, an extra resistance roll is allowed for each cycle, with a success preventing any further damage. If the attack is Resistible, halve the value of Cyclic. Some Cyclic attacks are contagious. While affected, the victim can inadvertently infect others, per Illness (p. 442). This increases the final cost of the enhancement, after all other factors: +20% for a “mildly contagious” attack or +50% for a “highly contagious” one. These factors are cumulative. For instance, a resistible disease with 31 daily cycles would cost +10% ¥ 30 ¥ 1/2 = +150%. If it were highly contagious, it would cost +200%.

Damage Modifiers 6


You may give an Innate Attack one or more of these modifiers to further qualify the way it does damage.

Double Blunt Trauma (dbt) +20% Available for Innate Attacks that do burning, corrosion, cutting, impaling,


or piercing damage. Burning and corrosion attacks enhanced this way inflict 1 HP of blunt trauma injury per 10 points of basic damage resisted by flexible armor. Cutting, impaling, and piercing attacks with this enhancement inflict the same blunt trauma as a crushing attack: 1 HP of blunt trauma injury per 5 points of basic damage resisted by flexible armor.

Fragmentation (frag) +15% per die The attack scatters damaging fragments on impact. Decide on the dice of fragmentation damage and note this in brackets after the attack’s basic damage. Everyone within 5 yards per die of fragmentation damage is attacked with effective skill 15, modified by range penalties from the point of impact; see Fragmentation Damage (p. 414).

When you use an enhanced trait, you must use all of its enhancements unless a particular enhancement – or the underlying ability itself – explicitly allows you to turn an enhancement “off.”

Double Knockback (dkb) +20% This lets a crushing or cutting attack inflict twice as much knockback as usual; see Knockback (p. 378).

Explosion (exp) +50%/level The attack produces an explosion at the point of impact (on a miss, check for scatter; see p. 414). The target takes damage normally; anything nearby receives “collateral damage” equal to basic damage divided (3 ¥ the distance in yards from the blast). If the attack also has an Armor Divisor (p. 102), it does not apply to this collateral damage. You can take up to two additional levels of Explosion if you desire a blast that isn’t as affected by distance. The second level divides basic damage by twice the distance in yards and is +100%; the third level divides damage by the distance in yards and is +150%. Explosion is usually limited to crushing and burning attacks, but the GM may permit other combinations. For more on explosions, see Explosions (p. 414).


Fragments inflict cutting damage. If you add Fragmentation to a burning attack or one with the Incendiary enhancement (below), the fragments are Incendiary at no extra cost. If you apply it to an attack with Follow-Up (p. 105), penetration indicates the fragments automatically hit the victim but no one else. Fragmentation often accompanies Explosion (above), but this is not required. Fragmentation costs +15% per die of fragmentation damage. A damage of [2d] or [3d] is typical of a grenadesized blast. Maximum fragmentation damage is [12d] or the attack’s basic damage, whichever is less. Hot Fragments: The fragments inflict burning damage with the modifiers Cyclic (Six 10-second cycles) and Armor Divisor (0.2) instead of cutting damage. Cost is unchanged.

Hazard Variable You may give an Innate Attack that inflicts fatigue damage one of these enhancements: Dehydration, +20%; Drowning, +0%; Freezing, +20%; Missed Sleep, +50%; Starvation, +40%; or Suffocation, +0%. Treat FP

lost to the attack identically to FP lost to the relevant hazard for all purposes, notably recovery (see Chapter 14). Traits that protect the target from the hazard in question also shield him from this damage. For instance, a Starvation attack would inflict FP that could only be recovered by eating a meal, but someone with Doesn’t Eat or Drink would be immune.

Triggered Delay: Instead of a time delay, the effects are triggered by a simple action: a radio signal, touch, pressure, a metal object passing within a yard, etc. Specify the trigger when you buy the attack. +50%.

Drifting 6


An Innate Attack other than a burning attack may be Incendiary. This gives the damage a secondary flame effect that can ignite volatile material (fuel, dry tinder, etc.).

You may add this enhancement to any attack with Delay (above) or Persistent (p. 107). The initial attack roll places the effect. It then drifts from that point with the wind, water currents, solar wind, etc., as appropriate. Use this for poison gas, ball lightning, floating mines, and so forth.

Radiation (rad)

Extended Duration

Incendiary (inc) +10%

+25% or +100% The attack irradiates the subject. Roll damage normally, but whether or not the attack penetrates DR, it inflicts 1 rad per point of basic damage rolled. See Radiation (p. 435) for effects. For a toxic attack, this dosage is instead of regular damage, and the enhancement is worth +25%; this is typical of “ordinary” radioactivity. For a burning attack, the radiation dose is as well as regular damage, and the enhancement is +100%; use this for particle beams. Other damage types cannot have this enhancement.

Surge (sur) +20% The attack produces an electrical surge or pulse that can disable electronics or anything with the Electrical disadvantage (p. 134).

Delay 6


This enhancement delays the attack’s effects until sometime after you hit the target. This lets you simulate time bombs and the like. You must specify some way to neutralize the effect before it occurs. Work out this detail with the GM. A fixed delay (e.g., 2 seconds) is +0%. A variable delay is +10% if you can set it for any time from “no delay” to 10 seconds, or +20% if you can set it for longer (minutes, hours, days . . .). You must select the delay before you roll to hit.

Variable This enhancement increases the normal duration of your ability. “Multiple” applies to the original duration (or changes it to permanent). Multiple 3¥ duration 10¥ duration 30¥ duration 100¥ duration 300¥ duration 1,000¥ duration Permanent*

Modifier +20% +40% +60% +80% +100% +120% +150%

* You must specify a reasonable set of conditions that will dispel the effect (or cure it, for abilities such as Affliction and Mind Control). The GM is the judge of what is “reasonable.” If there is no way to end the effect, the enhancement is +300%. To keep PCs from granting each other free advantages, the GM may wish to forbid this level of Extended Duration on Afflictions with the Advantage modifier. To add Extended Duration to an attack, the attack must either have Aura, Persistent, or Wall, or specifically allow this enhancement. You can also add Extended Duration to any advantage that has the Ranged enhancement (p. 107). If the modified trait has multiple facets with separate durations, you must specify which duration you are extending. For instance, a cloud of sleeping gas could have this enhancement to extend the duration of the sleep it induces or the length of time


the cloud persists; to do both, buy this enhancement twice.

Follow-Up 6


Your attack’s effects are delivered by a “carrier.” Use this to represent poison on a dart, an explosive in an armor-piercing shell, etc. Pick a different attack as the carrier. This can be either body weaponry (e.g., Claws or Teeth) or an Innate Attack (usually one that does cutting, impaling, or piercing damage). A Follow-Up attack need only list its damage amount and type. All other details depend on the carrier attack. The Follow-Up attack only hits if the carrier attack hits. If the carrier attack penetrates the target’s DR, DR has no effect on the Follow-Up attack’s damage or HT rolls. If the carrier attack is a natural weapon, such as Claws or Teeth, Follow-Up is a +0% enhancement. (Exception: On a passive carrier attack such as Spines, Follow-Up is a -50% limitation.) If the carrier attack is an Innate Attack, the cost of Follow-Up depends on the modifiers on the carrier attack. The cost of Follow-Up equals the sum of the costs of whichever of the following modifiers apply to the carrier attack: Always On, Aura, Cone, Drifting, Emanation, Emergencies Only, Extra Recoil, Guided, Homing, Increased Range, Jet, Limited Use, Malediction, Melee Attack, Preparation Required, Rapid Fire, Reduced Range, Takes Extra Time, Takes Recharge, Unconscious Only, Uncontrollable, or Unreliable. If none of these modifiers apply to the carrier attack, Follow-Up costs +0%. Note that the Follow-Up attack itself cannot take any of these modifiers. Only its carrier attack may have them. Follow-Up is a “penetration modifier”; you cannot combine it with other penetration modifiers (although the carrier attack can have them).

Guided or Homing 6


You can guide your attack – or perhaps it “homes in” by itself! Use this enhancement to create guided missiles and supernatural effects such as magical javelins that seek your foes.


Guided: You steer your attack to the target using your own skill. This lets you ignore all range penalties to hit! If the target is so distant that your attack needs multiple turns to reach it (see below), you must take a Concentrate maneuver each turn. If you lose sight of the target while the attack is en route, your attack automatically misses. +50%. Homing: Your attack steers itself. Decide how it seeks its target: with ordinary vision or a sensory advantage such as Detect (p. 48), Infravision (p. 60), Night Vision (p. 71), Scanning Sense (p. 81), or Vibration Sense (p. 96). The attack uses this sense for the purpose of combat modifiers; e.g., radar ignores darkness but can be jammed. To “lock on,” you must Aim at the target and make an unmodified skill roll. Do not roll against your skill to hit. Instead, use the attack’s skill of 10 – plus Accuracy, if you made your skill roll – and ignore all range penalties. Homing costs a base +50%, plus 1% per point the chosen homing mechanism would cost if bought as an advantage (without any modifiers); e.g., Infravision costs 10 points, making Homing (Infravision) +60%. Ordinary vision uses the base +50%. If a Guided or Homing attack has a 1/2D statistic, read this as the attack’s speed in yards/second. The attack can hit a target at up to its 1/2D range on the turn you launch it. It requires multiple turns to reach more distant targets. Do not halve damage, but defer the attack roll until the attack reaches its target. For more information, see Guided and Homing Weapons (p. 412).

Increased Range +10%/level You may add this enhancement to any advantage that has a range; e.g., Innate Attack or Scanning Sense. Each level increases range as follows: Range Multiple 2¥ 5¥ 10¥ 20¥ 50¥ 100¥

Modifier +10% +20% +30% +40% +50% +60%

If applied to a ranged attack, each level increases 1/2D and Max. You may increase 1/2D or Max individually at half cost (that is, “Increased 1/2D” and “Increased Max” are +5%/level). However, you cannot increase 1/2D past Max. At most, you can make 1/2D equal to Max – this means the attack has no 1/2D range. For attacks that already have no 1/2D range, you can increase Max for +5%/level.

Low Signature: The attack is no more easily identifiable as an attack than the loud pop of a champagne cork; e.g., a suppressed pistol shot. +10%. No Signature: The attack is almost completely unnoticeable; e.g., a blowgun’s dart. Alternatively, it is utterly undetectable by normal means, but leaves a magical or psionic trace. +20%.

Jet 6

Malediction 6


Your attack is a continuous stream, like a flamethrower. Treat it as a melee weapon with a very long reach rather than as a ranged weapon. Do not apply penalties for target range and speed. An attack with Jet has no Acc, and has 1/2D 5 and Max 10 instead of its usual range. Increased Range increases range by 100% per level instead of its usual effects. Jet is incompatible with Area Effect, Aura, Cone, Follow-Up, Melee Attack, and Rapid Fire.

Link +10% or +20% You can use two or more advantages simultaneously, as if they were a single ability. For +10%, your abilities are permanently linked into a single power, and must be used together – you cannot use them separately. For +20%, you can also use them separately. You must add this enhancement to all the abilities you wish to link. If you link two attacks into one and give them identical Malf., 1/2D, Max, Acc, RoF, Shots, and Recoil, you can treat them as a single attack with one attack roll but separate rolls for damage. This is not the same as the Follow-Up enhancement (p. 105)!

Low or No Signature 6

+10% or +20%

An attack normally has a “signature”: a flash of light, a sound, etc. If left unspecified, this is assumed to be similar to a gunshot or a stroke of lightning – that is, a brilliant flash and a loud report. This enhancement makes your attack less obvious.

Further levels follow the same “2-510” progression.




Your attack is not a conventional ranged attack; it works more like a Regular spell (p. 239). It lacks Malf., 1/2D, Max, Acc, RoF, Shots, and Recoil statistics, and cannot have any enhancement or limitation that modifies those statistics. Most importantly, the target’s DR has no effect on the attack’s damage, resistance roll, or other effects! Malediction requires a Concentrate maneuver rather than an Attack maneuver to use. It can target any victim you can see or otherwise clearly perceive. To determine if the attack succeeds, roll against your Will, applying the range penalties detailed below. Your foe may choose to resist; if so, resolve the attack as a Quick Contest of Will. You must win to affect the victim. When enhancing an Affliction, the Quick Contest above replaces the usual resistance roll. You roll against Will, but your target rolls against HT – or other attribute, if the attack has Based on (Different Attribute) – modified as usual for the Affliction. For instance, an Affliction that allows a HT-1 roll to resist would result in a Quick Contest of your Will vs. the target’s HT-1. The value of Malediction depends on the range modifiers it uses. If it takes -1 per yard of range, like a Regular spell, it costs +100%. If it uses the range penalties on the Size and Speed/Range Table (p. 550), it costs +150%. And if it uses the penalties given under Long-Distance Modifiers (p. 241), it costs +200%. Malediction is a “penetration modifier”; you cannot combine it with other penetration modifiers, nor with modifiers that apply only to conventional ranged attacks.

Mobile 6


You may only add this enhancement to an attack that has both Area Effect (p. 102) and Persistent (below). The area of effect moves under your control. Move equals the level of the enhancement (Move 1 at +40%, Move 2 at +80%, and so on), and cannot exceed the attack’s Max range. To move the area of effect, you must take a Concentrate maneuver. To make the mobile area autonomous, add Homing (which causes it to attack the nearest valid target) and possibly Selective Area (so it only seeks out enemies). Buy these enhancements twice if they’re intended to apply to both the initial attack roll and the autonomous area. Mobile is mutually exclusive with Drifting (p. 105).

Overhead 6

Ranged +30%


Your attack can alter its angle to strike from a different side of the target – usually the top. This bypasses any cover that does not provide overhead protection, and negates attack penalties to hit crouching, kneeling, sitting, or prone targets. (If you are already above or below your target, adjust this appropriately.) Use this to represent a rain of fire, a missile that swoops up and then dives down at the last moment, an airburst grenade, etc.

This enhancement gives range to an advantage that normally affects your immediate area, or that requires a touch to affect others. By default, it has 1/2D 10, Max 100, Acc 3, RoF 1, Shots N/A, and Recoil 1. Duration is 10 seconds, unless the ability lists another duration (like Neutralize or Possession) or is instantaneous (like Healing), and you cannot use the ability again until all existing effects have worn off. You can apply other modifiers to change the ranged combat statistics and duration. This enhancement is normally restricted to Healing, Mana Damper, Mana Enhancer, Neutralize, Possession, and Psi Static. The GM is free to allow it on other traits, but it should never modify body weaponry (such as Strikers or Vampiric Bite) or abilities that already have a range.

Persistent 6


You may only add this enhancement to an Area Effect (p. 102) attack. This causes the area of effect to remain in place for 10 seconds, continuing to damage (or attack and possibly damage, if taken with Bombardment, p. 111) anyone entering or passing through it. Use Extended Duration to increase the duration.



Rapid Fire 6


An Innate Attack’s base Rate of Fire (RoF) is 1. Consult the table below to find the cost for a higher RoF: RoF 2 3 4-7 8-15 16-30 31-70 71-150 151-300

Cost +40% +50% +70% +100% +150% +200% +250% +300%

Two special options are available for attacks with this enhancement: Multiple Projectile: Each shot splits into multiple projectiles after you attack, like a shotgun blast or forked lightning. Express this as a multiplier following RoF; for instance, RoF 3¥4 means each of three shots fired divides into four individual projectiles. Modifier cost is based on the RoF times the multiplier; e.g., RoF 3¥4 costs the same as RoF 12. Selective Fire: You may designate a RoF 5+ attack as Selective Fire, allowing it to fire as if it had RoF 1-3. This costs an extra +10%.

Reduced Fatigue Cost +20%/level You may only take this enhancement for abilities that cost FP, and never in conjunction with the special


modifier “Usually On.” You can take it any number of times. Each level cuts the cost to use the ability by 1 FP. If you must “maintain” the ability by spending FP on a regular basis, reduce this maintenance cost by a like amount.

Reduced Time +20%/level You may only add this enhancement to abilities that require time to activate. You can take it any number of times. Each level halves the time required to use the ability (round up). Once time is reduced to one second, a further level of Reduced Time makes the ability instantaneous – using it is a free action. Note that you cannot add Reduced Time to attack powers, to traits that list any kind of special modifier that affects activation time, or to Magery (to reduce casting times).

Respiratory Agent 6


Your attack must be inhaled to have any effect, but it ignores all DR. Only Doesn’t Breathe and Filter Lungs protect completely – although a victim who makes a Sense roll to notice the attack in time may hold his breath (see Holding Your Breath, p. 351). To make your attack less noticeable, take Low Signature (p. 106). You may only add this enhancement to an Affliction or to an Innate


Attack that inflicts toxic or fatigue damage, and you must combine it with one of Area Effect (p. 102), Cone (p. 103), or Jet (p. 106). Persistent (p. 107) is common but not required. Respiratory Agent is a “penetration modifier”; you cannot combine it with other penetration modifiers, such as Follow-Up (p. 105).

Selective Area 6


You may add this enhancement to any Area Effect (p. 102) or Cone (p. 103) attack. It lets you choose which targets within your area are actually affected.

Selectivity +10% This enhancement lets you turn a trait’s other enhancements off and on at will. For instance, if you had an attack with Area Effect, you could turn this enhancement off to affect only one other person. You must specify which enhancements you wish to ignore before you activate the ability. The default assumption is that you are always using all of your enhancements. By allowing you to select which enhancements you use, Selectivity permits you to have multiple versions of the same ability without having to buy the ability multiple times. This can be extremely useful when creating comic-book supers!

Sense-Based 6


Your attack is channeled through your victim’s senses, allowing it to ignore DR! You must specify the sense(s) affected. Examples include vision, hearing, smell, and exotic senses such as Detect. This is worth +150%, plus an extra +50% per sense after the first; e.g., Vision and Hearing-Based would be +200%. Your attack only affects someone who is using the targeted sense. For instance, a Vision-Based attack cannot affect a blind subject or someone with his eyes closed, while a Smell-Based attack doesn’t work underwater or on a target with a gas mask. Advantages (such as Protected Sense, p. 78) and equipment that protect the sense in question either negate the attack completely or, in the case of attacks that allow a roll to resist (such as Afflictions, Maledictions, and Resistible attacks), give a bonus to the resistance roll. The most common Sense-Based attack is an Affliction that knocks out the sense it is based on; for instance, Affliction (Blindness; Vision-Based) for a blinding flash. However, SenseBased attacks can also be deadly, like a banshee’s wail or basilisk’s gaze. Sense-Based is a “penetration modifier”; you cannot combine it with other penetration modifiers, such as Follow-Up (p. 105). Exception: You can combine SenseBased with Malediction (p. 106). In conjunction with Malediction, or when added to an ability that already ignores DR (e.g., Mind Control or Mind Reading), Sense-Based becomes a limitation. It is worth -20% if it works through one sense, -15% if two senses, or -10% if three senses. If it works through more than three senses, it is not a significant limitation.

Side Effect 6


You may only add this enhancement to an Innate Attack, and you cannot combine it with penetration modifiers other than Armor Divisor. If any damage penetrates the target’s DR, he must make a HT roll, at -1 per 2 points of penetrating damage, or suffer a “side effect.”

Choose the side effects from the effects described for Affliction (p. 35). Valid choices are stunning, Attribute Penalty, Disadvantage, and Incapacitation. The cost of Side Effect is a base +50%, plus the cost of the Affliction enhancements. For instance, stunning would be +50%, while Disadvantage (Blindness) would be +100%. You may specify more than one side effect. If the victim gets a single resistance roll against all of them, treat them as a single Side Effect enhancement, totaling their cost. If the victim must resist each effect individually, take a separate Side Effect enhancement for each effect. Stunning wears off normally, while other effects last (20 - HT) minutes, minimum 1 minute. If Incapacitation is combined with other effects, the other effects last for another (20 - HT) minutes after the Incapacitation wears off.

Symptoms 6


Symptoms are effects that occur if the cumulative damage (HP or FP loss) inflicted by the enhanced Innate Attack exceeds a fraction of the victim’s basic HP or FP. The victim does not get a HT roll to resist Symptoms! The GM should consider limiting Symptoms to attacks that inflict 1d damage or less. Choose Symptoms from the following effects described as enhancements for Affliction (p. 35): Advantage, Attribute Penalty, Disadvantage, Irritant, and Negated Advantage. If the threshold for the Symptom is 2/3 the victim’s basic HP, use the cost under Affliction. If the threshold is 1/2 basic HP, double this cost. If it’s 1/3 basic HP, triple this cost. Example: Blindness is worth +50% as an Affliction, but as a Symptom that occurs when the victim has lost half his HP to an Innate Attack, it is a +100% enhancement. Unlike Afflictions, Symptoms abate only when the damage that caused them is healed. In the example above, the Blindness would only end when the victim’s HP healed past the halfway point.


An Innate Attack can have multiple Symptoms, representing different effects that that occur at different damage thresholds.

Underwater 6


Attacks are assumed to be usable in air or in vacuum, but ineffective in liquid. This enhancement lets an attack work underwater at 1/10 range.

Variable 6


You can reduce the level of your attack. For example, if you have an Innate Attack that normally does 3d damage, you could reduce it to 1d or 2d damage. You must indicate this before you make your attack roll.

Wall 6

+30% or +60%

You may only add this enhancement to an attack that has both Area Effect (p. 102) and Persistent (p. 107). For +30%, you can set up your Area Effect as a wall filled with the substance or effect of your ability. This affects anyone or anything passing through it. You get a three-yard-long by one-yard-wide wall per yard of radius in your area. For +60%, your wall works as above, but you can form it into any shape you choose. You must define your wall as either permeable or rigid: Permeable: The wall is composed of liquid, gas, energy, or an amorphous solid (e.g., thorn bushes). It impedes vision, and inflicts damage on anyone who attempts to cross it, but an intruder can traverse it provided he is not stunned, knocked out, killed, etc. by its effects. Anything effective against the substance of the wall will disperse it; e.g., water or a fire extinguisher could extinguish a wall of fire. Rigid: The wall is a material barrier. This is only possible for Innate Attacks that deal crushing, cutting, impaling, or piercing damage. Each yard of wall has DR 3 and 1/2 HP per die of damage (round up); e.g., a 6d attack produces a wall with DR 18 and 3 HP. The wall does no damage itself, but the damage type applies to the injury inflicted on anyone crashing into it.


LIMITATIONS You can apply limitations to almost any trait (although as with enhancements, skills are normally off-limits). When you apply a limitation to a disadvantage, you reduce its value as a disadvantage; e.g., a -10% limitation on a -25-point disadvantage would make it a -22.5-point trait, which rounds to -22 points. Limited disadvantages are worth fewer points because they affect you under more restricted circ*mstances. Remember that no matter how many limitations you take, you cannot reduce the cost of a trait by more than 80%. That is, when totaling modifiers, treat net modifiers below -80% as -80%.

settings. “Not on redheads” is identical to “On everyone but redheads,” and is worth -10%. The same yardstick applies to limitations based on the situation. “Only at day” or “Only at night” is worth -20%. “Only in direct sunlight” is worth -30%. “Only in water” is worth -30% on Earth – but more on a desert planet and less on an ocean world. “Only during full moon” or “Only during new moon” is worth -40%. And “Useless under stress” is a whopping -60%, since it makes the ability worthless in most adventuring situations! You can also link situational Accessibility to your actions. The more unusual, difficult, or obnoxious the required action is, the greater the limitation value. Some examples:

You can apply limitations to almost any trait. When you apply a limitation to a disadvantage, you reduce its value as a disadvantage. Limited disadvantages are worth fewer points because they affect you under more restricted circ*mstances.

Accessibility Variable Accessibility is a catchall limitation you can use to cover any restriction not specifically defined elsewhere. Accessibility limitations fall into two broad categories: those that limit the targets your ability can affect and those that limit the situations in which it works. If your ability can only affect certain targets, the limitation depends on how common the target group is. “Only on women,” “Only on men,” or anything else that covers about half of the population is worth -20%. “Only on Electrical” or “Only on machines” is worth -20% in a technological setting. “Only on sea creatures” is worth -30% – unless the campaign is set on a world mostly covered with water, in which case it isn’t worth more than -10%. “Only on aliens” is worth -30% or -40%, depending on the world. “Only on psis” is worth -50% in most


Only in altered body form (Invisible, Insubstantial, etc.): -10%. Only while playing trumpet: -20%. Only while flying, Only while swimming, Only in hypnotic trance: -30%. Only by one side of split personality: -40%. In all cases, if the ability is only weakened (half power) instead of becoming useless, halve the value of the limitation. The GM shouldn’t allow meaningless Accessibility limitations. For instance, buying a helpful ability with the limitation “Only on friends” gives no cost break. Buying it with “Only on enemies” would be interesting, though! Likewise, the GM should reject any proposed limitation that is already implicit in the ability. For instance, “Only while flying” is not an acceptable limitation for Enhanced Move (Air).


Always On Variable You cannot switch your advantage off. You may only add this to an ability that can normally be switched off and that is inconvenient if you can’t turn it off. It is worth -10% if the effects are social or cosmetic, -20% if they are physically inconvenient, and -40% if they are dangerous (to you!). Always On appears as a “special limitation” for most of the traits to which it would apply. The GM can add new costs as appropriate for other abilities.

Armor Divisor 6


Your attack can pierce less armor than its base damage would indicate. “Divisor” is the factor by which you divide. “DR Multiplier” is an equivalent calculation – multiply your opponent’s DR by this number. Divisor DR Multiplier (0.5) 2 (0.2) 5 (0.1) 10

Modifier -30% -50% -70%

In addition, if you have any level of this limitation, targets that have DR 0 (e.g., bare flesh) get DR 1 against your attack. Only Innate Attacks and Afflictions can have this limitation. Armor Divisor is a “penetration modifier”; you cannot combine it with other penetration modifiers, such as Contact Agent (p. 103) and Follow-Up (p. 105).

Blood Agent 6


Your attack must reach a mucous membrane (eyes, open mouth, nose, etc.) or an open wound to have any effect at all. DR always stops it. This limitation is intended for Afflictions, and for Innate Attacks that inflict fatigue or toxic damage. It is especially appropriate for poisonous spit or spray. In conjunction with Aura (p. 102), it can also represent an attack that is delivered via intimate physical contact. Exception: If the attack also has Area Effect (p. 102) or Cone (p. 103), Blood Agent works as described above and also when inhaled (like Respiratory Agent, p. 108). This lets it ignore all DR. Only targets with the

Sealed advantage (p. 82) – or with one of Doesn’t Breathe (p. 49) or Filter Lungs (p. 55) and one of Nictitating Membrane (p. 71) or Protected Vision (p. 78) – are immune. This powerful ability converts Blood Agent into a +100% enhancement when combined with Area Effect or Cone! This is a “penetration modifier”; you cannot combine it with other penetration modifiers, such as Follow-Up (p. 105).

Bombardment 6


You may only take this limitation in conjunction with Area Effect (p. 102) or Cone (p. 103). The attack does not automatically hit everyone in the area. Instead, it attacks each potential target in the area at an effective skill, which sets the value of the limitation. Effective Skill 14 12 10 8

Modifier -5% -10% -15% -20%

Modify effective skill for target size only – not for range or for any other factor. Determine hit location randomly. If the target is under cover, the cover protects normally against the damage. This limitation is intended for attacks like electrical or ice storms, which could affect some but not all individuals within a given area.

Contact Agent 6


Your attack must touch bare skin or porous clothing to have any effect at all. DR always stops it. This enhancement is intended for Afflictions, and for Innate Attacks that inflict fatigue or toxic damage. Taken with Aura (p. 102), it can represent a “contagious” attack that spreads via skin contact. Exception: If the attack also has Area Effect (p. 102) or Cone (p. 103), Contact Agent lets it ignore all DR. Only targets with the Sealed advantage (p. 82) are immune. This powerful ability converts Contact Agent into a +150% enhancement when combined with Area Effect or Cone!

Optional Rule: Limited Enhancements If the GM allows, you can add a limitation to an enhancement. This restricts the enhancement, reducing its value as an enhancement without directly affecting the underlying ability. Apply the limitation to the percentage value of the enhancement exactly as if it were a point value. This cannot reduce the value of the enhancement below 1/5 normal. Then apply the cheaper enhancement to the cost of the ability. Example: Your Selective Area (+20%) enhancement has the VisionBased (-20%) limitation. You don’t need eye contact to make the attack work, but you must make eye contact with someone in your area of effect in order to single him out. A -20% limitation on a +20% enhancement reduces the net enhancement to +16%. A few limitations require a specific enhancement. For instance, Emanation (p. 112) always accompanies Area Effect (p. 102). Such limitations affect the underlying ability. You cannot use this rule to apply them to just the enhancement. The GM may choose not to use this option, as it requires extra bookkeeping.

This is a “penetration modifier”; you cannot combine it with other penetration modifiers, such as Follow-Up (p. 105).

Costs Fatigue Variable Your ability costs FP to use. This is worth -5% per FP per use. What constitutes a “use” depends on the underlying trait. For abilities that produce instantaneous effects (e.g., Innate Attack), you must pay this FP cost every time you trigger the ability. For advantages that produce continuing effects (e.g., Flight), you must pay this FP cost to activate the ability for one minute. However, once you have paid this initial cost, you need only pay half as many FP (round up) per minute to keep the ability active. If an advantage that produces continuing effects only lasts one second, and you must pay the cost to maintain it every second, this doubles the value of the limitation to -10% per FP.

Damage Limitations 6


You may add the following limitations to an Innate Attack:


No Blunt Trauma (nbt) -20% An attack that inflicts crushing, cutting, impaling, or piercing damage normally inflicts blunt trauma (see p. 379). Add this limitation if it does not.

No Knockback (nkb) -10% An attack that inflicts crushing or cutting damage normally inflicts knockback (see p. 378). Add this limitation if it does not.

No Wounding (nw) -50% The attack inflicts basic damage, and may cause knockback and blunt trauma, but its penetrating damage has no wounding effect (HP or FP loss). Apply this limitation to a crushing attack to represent effects such as a mighty gust of wind or jet of water. Use it with impaling, piercing, or cutting attacks that are carriers for Afflictions or Innate Attacks (usually those that inflict fatigue or toxic damage) with the Follow-Up modifier (p. 105); this represents small poison darts, stings, etc. that can slip through armor without inflicting grievous wounds.


Dissipation 6


You may only take this limitation in conjunction with Area Effect (p. 102) or Cone (p. 103). The further the victim is from the center of the area or the apex of the cone, the less effective your attack is. See Area and Spreading Attacks (p. 413) for details.

Emanation 6


You may only take this limitation in conjunction with Area Effect (p. 102). It means the effect has no range or Accuracy, but radiates from your body (without affecting you, if the effect is a bad one). This is incompatible with Melee Attack and ranged attack modifiers.

Emergencies Only -30% Your ability is triggered by your fear or excitement; you cannot use it under “routine” conditions. The GM is the final arbiter. He may rule that multiple successive failures of your power make you angry enough that it begins to work, but this is entirely up to him. Full Power in Emergencies Only: If your ability works at half power under normal conditions, but at full power under stress, this limitation is not worth as much. For traits that come in levels, “half power” means half as many levels. The GM must decide what this means for other traits (half range, duration, bonuses, etc.). -20%.

Extra Recoil 6

-10% per +1 Recoil

By default, a ranged attack has Recoil 1, making it virtually recoilless (see p. 271). You may give an attack with Rapid Fire (p. 108) a higher Recoil (Rcl) as a limitation. Recoil (Rcl) 2 3 4 5+

Inaccurate 6

Modifier -10% -20% -30% -40%


Your attack benefits little from careful aiming. Most attacks start with Accuracy (Acc) 3. Each -1 to Acc is a


-5% limitation. You may not reduce Acc below 0.

If your attack cannot parry, it is worth an extra -5%.

Limited Use

Mitigator Variable


You can use your ability only a limited number of times in a 24-hour period. For most advantages, each “use” is 1 minute of activation. For an attack, each “use” gives shots equal to your RoF, with a minimum one shot per use; for instance, three uses of an attack with RoF 2 would give six shots. The value depends on the number of uses you get.

You may only apply this limitation to a disadvantage. A particular item or substance – the mitigator – temporarily negates your disadvantage. The more effective the mitigator, the fewer points you get for the disadvantage. Use the following guidelines:

Uses Per Day 1 2 3-4 5-10

Modifier -40% -30% -20% -10%

More than 10 uses per day is not a significant limitation. Two special options are available for attacks (and optionally, other abilities) that have this enhancement: Fast Reload: You can replace all your uses in 3 to 5 seconds simply by replenishing ammunition. The GM determines the weight and cost of the ammunition. This halves the value of the limitation; e.g., three or four uses would be worth only -10%. Slow Reload: As above, except if you have two or more shots (not uses!) you must reload each shot individually (taking 3 or more seconds per shot). If you have only one shot, it must take at least 6 seconds to reload – possibly longer, if using this limitation to represent a very slow-firing weapon such as a flintlock. This makes the limitation worth 5% less than usual; e.g., three or four uses would be worth only -15%.

Melee Attack 6


Your attack functions as a melee weapon. It has no range, but allows you to parry, use Rapid Strike, Feint, etc. It lacks Malf., 1/2D, Max, Acc, RoF, Shots, and Recoil statistics, and may not have any enhancement or limitation that modifies these statistics. Instead, it has a Reach statistic. Reach C 1 or 2 C, 1, or 1, 2, or 2, 3 1-4 (like a whip)

Modifier -30% -25% -20% -15%


Mitigator is vulnerable, and easily stolen, broken, or misplaced (e.g., a pair of glasses). -60%. Mitigator is a drug or other treatment that you must take daily. -60%. Mitigator is a weekly treatment. -65%. Mitigator is a monthly treatment. -70%. This assumes your treatments are available at pharmacies. If you require a special (and possibly expensive) prescription, add +5% to the values above; e.g., -70% becomes -65%. If you can only get your treatments from one specific source, such as an experimental drug program, add +10%; e.g., -70% becomes -60%. Example 1: Bad Sight is worth -25 points. Glasses cure Bad Sight while worn, but are breakable, for a -60% Mitigator limitation. This reduces Bad Sight to -10 points. Example 2: Jan has AIDS, and would die in a month without treatment. This level of Terminally Ill is normally worth -100 points. Fortunately, Jan is on an experimental drug plan that is holding him in remission. The treatments are weekly (-65%) but impossible to find outside his program (+10%), for a -55% Mitigator limitation. This reduces Terminally Ill to -45 points. As long as Jan stays with the program, his countdown to death is halted.

Nuisance Effect Variable Your ability has a “side effect” that causes you serious inconvenience. The GM must approve this limitation and determine its value in each case, and should ruthlessly forbid effects that are abusive or that do not genuinely limit the ability’s value. A few

guidelines (a given trait can have more than one of these drawbacks):


• Your ability earns a reaction penalty from those around you. Perhaps it makes you look disgusting, or requires you to perform some sort of distressing ritual. -5% per -1 to reactions (maximum -4). • Your ability makes you obvious, limiting stealth and attracting enemies. -5%. • Your ability physically inconveniences you – it attracts stinging insects, causes your armor to rust, makes you ravenously hungry, etc. -5%.

A Higher Power – god, spirit, etc. – grants your ability under the condition that you follow a strict moral code. This code must take the form of one or more of the traits listed under Self-Imposed Mental Disadvantages


(p. 121). These disadvantages give you the usual number of points. Should you ever stray from the path, your ability immediately ceases to function until you repent. The limitation value is numerically equivalent to the point cost of the required disadvantages; e.g., a -10-point Vow gives a -10% Pact limitation.

You cannot take a valuable power as a Nuisance Effect. For instance, “Kills everyone within a mile” is not an acceptable Nuisance Effect! Neither can you claim a limitation for a harmless nuisance. If your Terror advantage attracts gerbils instead of frightening them, this is amusing but not a limitation.

Onset 6


You must “stack” this limitation with one of Blood Agent, Contact Agent, Follow-Up, Malediction, or Respiratory Agent. It delays the damage or affliction caused by the attack until some time after exposure. The delay determines the value of the limitation. Delay 1 minute 1 hour 1 day 1 week (or more)

Modifier -10% -20% -30% -40%

Delays that fall between two values use the smaller limitation; e.g., 30 minutes is -10%. If you can control the onset time, take Delay (p. 105) instead. A variant limitation is Exposure Time, which is only available for attacks with Aura or Persistent. Use it to represent radioactivity, mildly toxic gases, etc. It works just like Onset, except that the victim must be exposed for the entire period to suffer the effect (or repeat it, if you continue exposure). This is worth an extra -20%; e.g., 1 minute is -30%.



Preparation Required Variable Your ability requires special preparation before you can use it. Perhaps you have to meditate first, or perform some ritual to focus concentration.

This limitation is particularly appropriate for supernatural traits such as Channeling (p. 41) and Medium (p. 68). You cannot use an unprepared ability. To prepare, take the Concentrate maneuver for the required

Examples of Modified Attacks Banshee’s Wail: Affliction 3 (HT-2; Area Effect, 64 yards, +300%; Emanation, -20%; Hearing-Based, +150%; Heart Attack, +300%; Limited Use, 1/day, -40%; Selective Area, +20%) [243]. Dragon’s Breath: Burning Attack 4d (Cone, 5 yards, +100%; Limited Use, 3/day, -20%; Reduced Range, ¥1/5, -20%) [32]. Hand of Death: Toxic Attack 6d (Contact Agent, -30%; Costs Fatigue, 2 FP, -10%; Delay, Variable, +20%; Low Signature, +10%; Melee Attack, Reach C, -30%; Resistible, HT-4, -10%) [12]. Implanted 9mm SMG: Piercing Attack 3d-1 (Accurate +2, +10%; Extra Recoil +1, -10%; Increased Range, ¥20, +40%; Limited Use, 3 uses/30 shots, Fast Reload, -10%; Rapid Fire, RoF 10, +100%) [33]. Lightning Bolt: Burning Attack 6d (Side Effect, Stunning, +50%; Surge, +20%) [51]. Mind Blast: Affliction 1 (Will; Based on Will, +20%; Malediction 2, +150%; Secondary Unconsciousness, +40%; Telepathic, -10%) [30]. Poison Bite: Sharp Teeth [1], plus Toxic Attack 2d (Cyclic, 1 hour, 5 cycles, resistible, +40%; Follow-Up, Sharp Teeth, +0%; Resistible, HT-3, -15%) [10].



amount of time. You need not specify how you plan to use your ability while you are preparing it, but you must specify which ability you are preparing if you have more than one trait with this limitation. You can use a prepared ability normally – either immediately or at a later time. However, you can only have one advantage with this limitation prepared at a time, and it becomes unprepared immediately after use, regardless of success or failure (but if your ability has continuing effects, you can maintain them once activated). The value of this limitation depends on the time required to prepare the ability. Preparation Time 1 minute 10 minutes 1 hour 8 hours

Modifier -20% -30% -50% -60%

Weakened Without Preparation: Your ability works if you do not prepare it beforehand, but at half duration, range, effect, etc. This does not make sense for all advantages (GM’s decision as to when it does). Weakened Without Preparation is worth exactly half as much as listed above.

Reduced Range -10%/level You may add this limitation to any advantage that has a range; e.g., Innate Attack or Scanning Sense. It comes in three levels, depending on the range divisor. Range Divisor 2 5 10

Modifier -10% -20% -30%

If applied to a ranged attack that has a 1/2D range, each level reduces both 1/2D and Max. You may reduce 1/2D only at half value (that is, “Reduced 1/2D” is -5%/level). You may not reduce Max independently.

Resistible 6


This limitation is only available for Innate Attacks that inflict fatigue or toxic damage. You must combine it with one of Blood Agent, Contact Agent, Follow-Up, Respiratory Agent, or Sense-Based. It represents poison, disease, or a similar effect that a sufficiently healthy victim can resist or “shrug off.” The victim gets a HT roll to avoid the effect. A resistance roll against HT5 is worth -5%. Each +1 to the roll is a worth another -5% (e.g., HT-4 is -10%, and HT+4 is -50%). If the attack is also Cyclic (p. 103), the victim rolls before each cycle (including the first). Success means the attack ends without further injury; failure means the target takes damage normally and the attack continues.

For abilities that require a Ready or Concentrate maneuver, each level of Takes Extra Time doubles the time required. Activation occurs at the end of this time. For instance, Takes Extra Time 1 on an advantage that usually requires a one-second Ready maneuver would increase the Ready time to 2 seconds. For attacks, the first level of Takes Extra Time results in a one-second Ready maneuver before you can make your Attack maneuver. Successive levels double the Ready time.

Takes Recharge Variable Your ability requires “recharging” after each use. It is unavailable during the recharge period. Value depends on the time between uses: five seconds (or twice the time required to use the ability, if longer) is -10%, 15 seconds (or 5 times the time required to use the ability, if longer) is -20%, and one hour (or 10 times the time required to use the ability, if longer) is -30%. Longer recharge times are not valid as limitations (but see Limited Use, p. 112).

Temporary Disadvantage Variable


You may add this limitation to any advantage that can be switched off and on at will, and that takes at least one second to switch. When you switch on the advantage, you suffer one or more disadvantages until you switch it off again. This limitation is worth -1% per point the temporary disadvantages are worth, to a maximum of -80%.

On an attack with Malediction or an ability that normally ignores DR (e.g., Mind Control), this is a limitation. See the Sense-Based enhancement (p. 109) for details.

Example: You can use your feet as hands, but can’t walk while doing so. This is Extra Arms 2 (20 points) with Temporary Disadvantage: Legless (-30%), for 14 points.

Takes Extra Time

The point break due to Temporary Disadvantage cannot exceed 80% of the value of the original disadvantage.

Sense-Based 6

-10%/level You can only apply this limitation to abilities that require time to activate and that work fast enough to be useful in an emergency (e.g., combat). This is up to the GM, who is free to restrict this limitation to advantages that take only 1 or 2 seconds to activate.

Example: You have Altered Time Rate 1 (100 points) with Temporary Disadvantage: Hemophilia (-30%) – you bleed faster, too! Since Hemophilia is worth -30 points normally, the most it can be worth as a Nuisance Effect is -24 points;


therefore, it reduces the cost of Altered Time Rate by 24 points (to 76 points) and not by 30 points (to 70 points). You may only take Temporary Disadvantages that could logically inconvenience you for the period of time the advantage is normally on. In the case of mental disadvantages (Berserk, Lecherousness, etc.), if a failed self-control roll indicates that you give in to the disadvantage, you will suffer the disadvantage’s effects until the GM rules you have regained your composure – which might be long after you deactivate the advantage with this limitation! You can also use this limitation to remove an advantage temporarily. This is worth -1% per point the negated advantage is worth, and the point break cannot exceed 80% of the deactivated advantage’s cost. Only one of the involved advantages can take this limitation – you cannot take two advantages, both with this limitation, each of which negates the other when used.

Trigger Variable Your advantage requires exposure to a specific substance or condition (e.g., a dose of a drug) to function. One dose or exposure is required per one-minute “use.” Cost depends on the rarity of the Trigger: Very Common (available almost anywhere): -10%. Common (expensive, somewhat hard to find): -20%. Occasional (very expensive and hard to find): -30%. Rare (cannot be bought; must be found or made): -40%. Multiply the limitation value by 1.5 if the Trigger is illegal, addictive, or otherwise dangerous.

Unconscious Only -20% You may only take this limitation in conjunction with Uncontrollable (below). You cannot consciously activate your ability at all; it can only come into play under GM control, as a result of stress. Like Uncontrollable, you may buy this off later on, as you gain control over your ability.


Uncontrollable -10% or -30% Your ability tends to manifest itself at undesirable or inappropriate times. Whenever the GM rules that you are in a stressful situation – including any situation that requires a Fright Check or a self-control roll for a mental disadvantage – you must make a Will roll to keep your ability under control, even if you did not intend to use it! You need only roll once per stressful situation, but a roll of 14+ always fails, regardless of Will. On a failure, the GM takes over your ability, playing it as though it were an entity of a prankish or hostile nature. The actions of your ability will often reflect your “suppressed desires,” as reflected in your quirks and mental disadvantages. An ability that cannot inflict damage – for instance, Flight or Jumper – will activate unexpectedly. This is inconvenient and embarrassing, but not overly dangerous. After each uncontrolled act, you get another Will roll to control your power. This goes on until you make a Will roll. In this case, Uncontrollable is worth -10%. A harmful ability goes after obvious foes first, and will never turn on you . . . but nobody else is safe! After each uncontrolled act (or before an attack on a Dependent or other loved one), you get another Will roll to control your power. This continues until you make a Will roll or destroy everything around you! For destructive powers, Uncontrollable is worth -30%. You may buy this limitation off later on, as you gain control over your ability.

Unreliable Variable Sometimes your ability works and sometimes it doesn’t! It just comes and goes, and you’ve never identified why. This is completely separate from any roll normally needed to activate the ability. You can have skill 20 and still have problems making it work! Every time you want to use the power, you must roll the activation number (see below) or less on 3d. Once you succeed, the ability will work for that particular use. When you cease to use it, you must make another activation roll to start it again.


If you cannot activate your ability on your first attempt, you may try again once per second after that, at no penalty. Each successive attempt costs one FP. If you are reduced to three or fewer FP, you must rest until all FP are regained before you can attempt to use your ability again.

skill to use. You can’t learn to control your power well. You learn all skills associated with it as though the relevant attribute were only 8 (or at one less than its usual value, if already at 8 or worse), and your maximum skill level is 10.

Example of Character Creation (cont’d) Dai’s main advantage is that he can teleport. This is Warp (p. 97), which costs 100 points! But Dai has two special limitations to lower the cost. First, his Warp is psionic, so “anti-psi” can keep it from working. This gives the Psionic Teleportation limitation, worth -10%. Second, his ability has a very short range: 10 yards. That’s a Range Limit limitation worth -50%. These limitations mean that Dai gets Warp at 60% off, for 40 points. We decide to give Dai another psi ability useful to a thief: a “sixth sense” that warns him of traps and similar dangers. This is Danger Sense (p. 47), with the ESP special limitation. Danger Sense costs a basic 15 points, but the -10% limitation reduces this to 13.5 points, which rounds up to 14 points. Even without his psi abilities, Dai is a gifted thief. His specialty is second-story work, so we add Flexibility (p. 56), for 5 points, because it gives a big bonus when climbing; Perfect Balance (p. 74), for 15 points, so he won’t lose his balance and fall off; and Absolute Direction (p. 34), for 5 points, to help him negotiate back alleys and rooftops. Since we want Dai to be able to disappear into a crowd, we throw in the 1-point Honest Face perk (p. 101) – he doesn’t “look like a thief.” Dai’s advantages total 80 points, raising his current point total to 223 points.

Activation Number 5 8 11 14

Modifier -80% -40% -20% -10%

Unreliable works differently when applied to attacks which are also gadgets or built-in firearms. Instead of requiring an activation roll, it gives a Malfunction number worse than 17. Malf. 12 13 14 15 16

Modifier -25% -20% -15% -10% -5%

Untrainable -40% You may only apply this limitation to abilities that normally require a


GADGET LIMITATIONS The GM may require you to pay points for any “gadget” that grants traits that usually cost points (attribute levels, advantages, etc.). However, he should charge points only for items that even the most advanced technology could not produce (e.g., a ring that bestows Luck) – and even then, only if those items are not for sale at any price in the game world. In particular, the GM should never charge points for ordinary, manufactured equipment – or even for special equipment, if it is for sale – unless it happens to be Signature Gear (p. 85). Body armor, a rifle, and night-vision goggles effectively bestow Damage Resistance, Innate Attack, and Infravision, respectively . . . but since

anyone could buy these items, they have a cash cost, not a point cost. Traits bestowed by items have their usual point cost. You can give them any logical combination of modifiers, plus one or more of the special limitations below.

Breakable Variable Your foes can destroy the item. Once destroyed, it will cease to grant you its benefits until repaired. Add the following elements together to find the final limitation value. Durability: The easier the object is to break, the greater the limitation. Decide on the gadget’s weight and DR. DR 2 or less 3-5 6-15 16-25 26 or higher

Modifier -20% -15% -10% -5% 0%

If the object is a machine that can break down (as opposed to a simple artifact, like a ring or a hat), add another -5%. See Damage to Objects (p. 483) to determine HP and the effects of damage. Reparability: You can normally repair your gadget if it breaks; the GM

chooses the skill(s) needed to make repairs. If you cannot repair it, and it requires inconvenient time, effort, or expense to replace (GM’s decision), it is worth an additional -15%. Size: The item’s Size Modifier affects Vision rolls to identify it out of combat and rolls to hit it in combat. SM -9 or less -7 or -8 -5 or -6 -3 or -4 -1 or -2 0 or more

Modifier 0% -5% -10% -15% -20% -25%

Easily snatched with an unopposed DX roll (e.g., a hat): -40%. Thief must win a Quick Contest of DX (e.g., a bracelet) or ST (e.g., a wand) with you: -30%. Can only by taken by stealth or trickery (e.g., a coin in a pocket): -20%. Must be forcefully removed (e.g., a suit of armor): -10%. Halve the value of the limitation if the gadget will not immediately work for the thief.

Unique -25%

Can Be Stolen Variable Your foes can take this item from you, depriving you of its benefits. This is only a limitation if the item is obviously powerful and likely to be the target of theft! The value of the limitation depends on how hard it is to steal:

You may only take this limitation in conjunction with Breakable or Can Be Stolen. Normally, you can replace a broken or stolen gadget – although this might require significant time and effort (GM’s decision). If the item is Unique, you cannot replace it! Character points spent for the item are lost for good if it is broken or stolen.

The GM is free to add as many new advantages as he can think of. Players take note: You may invent new advantages only with the GM’s permission.

NEW ADVANTAGES The GM (no doubt with the enthusiastic advice of the players!) is free to add as many new advantages as he can think of. What follows are some guidelines on how to balance the costs of such advantages in light of the traits in this chapter. Players take note: these rules are for GMs. You may invent new advantages only with the GM’s permission.

MODIFYING EXISTING ADVANTAGES GURPS has a lot of advantages. Often, one of these is similar to what you had in mind, in which case you can “tweak” an existing ability instead of inventing a new one.

Rename The advantage you’re looking for might already exist, but under a moniker you dislike or find unintuitive. In this case, creating a “new” advantage is just a matter of changing the name! For instance, if you want a Light Intensification advantage that lets those who have it see in the dark, just rename “Night Vision” to “Light Intensification.”

Redefine Many “new” advantages amount to existing advantages with revised special effects. If an existing advantage provides the right ability with the wrong justification, use the game mechanics and point cost of the existing trait but come up with a new explanation for how it works. For instance, Night


Vision assumes natural, dark-adapted eyes, but you are free to explain it as ultra-tech implants, if that suits your campaign better.

Combine Still other “new” advantages are combinations of existing traits. If a mix of advantages (possibly with a few disadvantages, to bring the cost down) collectively provide the effects you want, just group them together, add their costs, and rename the whole thing. For instance, you might lump together Acute Vision 5 [10], Night Vision 5 [5], and Colorblindness [-10] as the “Cat’s Eye Mk. V” implant. Players would just list “Cat’s Eye Mk. V [5]” on their character sheet. Note that this is identical to the way meta-traits work in Chapter 7.


Modify The game mechanics for an existing advantage will sometimes be almost, but not quite, what you want. In that case, start with the nearest existing advantage, apply enhancements and limitations that add the desired effects, and present the final product as an entirely new advantage.

For instance, suppose undead beings in your campaign can see the Spectral Plane. This gives them Night Vision with the side effects that they see ghosts and have glowing red eyes. You could write this as “Night Vision 5 (Affects Insubstantial, +20%; Temporary Disadvantage: Unnatural Feature, -5%) [6],” but it would be simpler to write “Spectral Vision [6]” on character sheets and leave the design details in your notes.

Fine-Tune After applying the above processes to achieve the effects you seek, you might wish to add some “color” or adjust the cost – perhaps by adding minor side effects, such as small modifiers to certain success rolls. The guidelines and examples under Perks (p. 100) and Quirks (p. 162) can be useful here. For instance, you might want “Spectral Vision” to cost a nice, round


5 points, but you don’t want to make the ability to see ghosts a freebie. To justify shaving the cost down to 5 points, you toss in a -1 to Vision rolls made in bright daylight. After all, everyone knows the undead don’t like sunlight!

DESIGNING ENTIRELY NEW ADVANTAGES There are times when nothing less than a totally new advantage will do. Advantages in GURPS usually grant one of four basic types of abilities (although a single advantage often qualifies in more than one category). 1. Situational bonuses to attributes. Handle attribute bonuses by assuming that each +1 is worth 10 points for ST or HT, or 20 points for DX or IQ, and then modifying the cost downward to reflect how often the bonus applies. See Accessibility (p. 110) for inspiration. For instance, Rapid Healing is basically +5 HT (base cost 50 points) that only applies to rolls to recover from damage. Since most people go to great pains to avoid damage, and since rolls for natural recovery rarely matter in settings with magical, psionic, or


ultra-tech healing, the point value of the bonus is reduced to 1/10 of normal, for a net cost of 5 points. 2. Bonuses to skill rolls. In general, simply work out the equivalent Talent (p. 89) and add its cost to the advantage. If the advantage modifies one skill, then assume it is worth 2 points per +1 to skill, to a maximum of +3 to skill for 6 points. 3. Bonuses to reaction rolls. Work out reaction bonuses as described for Reputation (p. 26). You may include a bonus that applies to a very small class of people (e.g., “anyone with a Ph.D. in Comparative Anatomy from Harvard,” unless the campaign happens to be set at Harvard Medical School) for free as a “special effect.” Note that these bonuses need not be actual Reputations – they could as easily be due to looks, a psionic aura, or mind-control lasers. 4. Unique abilities that those without the advantage do not have in any measure. You should price these abilities by comparison. Examine other traits in the rules and assign a similar cost for an advantage that is about equal in power. Reduce or increase the cost if the ability is slightly more or less powerful than the one to which you are comparing it. For instance, “automatically makes all normal Vision rolls” is about as useful as “automatically makes all Fright Checks,” so you might price that ability along the lines of Unfazeable, for 15 points.

Finalizing the Cost To determine the final cost of a new advantage, add up the costs of all the abilities it grants. If the advantage is extremely rare, and those who have it could reliably use it as a surprise tactic or as a means of making money, increase its final cost by up to 100%. Conversely, if the GM wants it to be extremely common, he may reduce its final cost by as much as 50%. Use finetuning (above) to further adjust the cost. The GM is the final arbiter when it comes to the cost of new advantages. He is free to charge an Unusual Background – over and above the cost of the advantage – for any new advantage he wishes to restrict to a certain class of characters. This is in addition to any “built-in” rarity modifier.


DISADVANTAGES A “disadvantage” is a problem or imperfection that renders you less capable than your attributes, advantages, and skills would indicate. In addition to the traits in this chapter, this includes anything with a negative point cost in Chapter 1: low Status, below-average Wealth, etc. You are probably wondering, “Why would I want to give my character disadvantages?” There are two good reasons: 1. Each disadvantage has a negative cost in character points. Thus, disadvantages give you extra character points, which let you improve your character in other ways. But note that disadvantages limit you in proportion to their cost. Be sure to read the disadvantage description in full to know what you are getting into! 2. An imperfection or two makes your character more interesting and realistic, and adds to the fun of roleplaying!

Disadvantages for Heroes Two kinds of disadvantages are particularly suitable for heroic PCs. Roleplayed well, they might limit the character’s choices, but they should make the player’s experience more fun.

“Good” Disadvantages It might seem strange that virtues such as Truthfulness and Sense of Duty are listed as “disadvantages.” In the real world, we regard such traits as advantages! Their disadvantage value in GURPS comes from the fact that these virtues limit your freedom of action. For instance, someone with Truthfulness will have trouble lying, even for a good cause; therefore, within the framework of the game, he has a disadvantage. This has one very worthwhile benefit: if you want to create a wholly heroic character, you don’t have to take any “character flaws” at all. You can get points by choosing only those disadvantages that are actually virtuous!

Tragic Flaws Many of the greatest heroes of history and literature had a “tragic flaw.” Alcoholism, great ugliness, bad temper, compulsive behavior, and even drug addiction – all are found in the heroes of fact and fiction. So don’t assume that your heroes have to be perfect . . . try giving them significant problems to overcome.



RESTRICTIONS ON DISADVANTAGES Your GM might wish to “cap” the extra points you can gain from disadvantages; see Disadvantage Limit (p. 11). This limit applies to the total points you can get from all traits with negative point costs, from Chapter 1 (reduced attributes, low Status, etc.) or the list below. Mandatory disadvantages assigned by the GM don’t count against this limit. Most GMs will want to enforce two additional restrictions:

Negated Disadvantages You cannot take a disadvantage that one of your advantages would mitigate or negate! For instance, if you have Acute Hearing, you cannot take Hard of Hearing. Contradictory disadvantages, such as Curious and Incurious, are also mutually exclusive. The GM has the final say as to which traits are compatible.

adventure fiction, so they are included in the interest of good NPC creation.

back” points with which to buy abilities – they just lower your point value!


Example: If you start out blind, you start with an extra 50 points . . . but if an explosion blinds you during the game, you’re just blind and that’s that. Reduce your point total by 50 points to reflect your new disadvantage. You should not keep the same point total and take 50 points of compensating advantages!

Like advantages, disadvantages are classified according to how they work in play and who can have them.

Mental 2, Physical 3, and Social 4

Mental disadvantages originate from your mind or soul. They stay with you if your mind ends up in a new body. This category includes the vast majority of “magical,” “psionic,” and “spiritual” traits. Mental disadvantages are marked 2. Physical disadvantages are associated with your body. You can escape them by moving to a new body! If another mind occupies your body, the new owner gains your physical disadvantages.


Physical disadvantages are marked

Social disadvantages are associated with your identity. Should it become important to know whether they go with mind or body, the GM’s word is final. Note that this category includes below-average Status, Wealth, and so forth from Chapter 1. Social disadvantages are marked 4. The GM is the final judge of which category a disadvantage belongs in. It is possible to interpret certain disadvantages in more than one way!

Exotic 1, Supernatural 5, and Mundane

Secret Disadvantages You may give your character a disadvantage unknown both to him and to you. Choose a point value and tell the GM. The GM will select a disadvantage and give you its value plus an additional -5 points (e.g., Unluckiness, normally worth -10 points, gives -15 points as a secret disadvantage) . . . but he will not give you any hints as to what it is! When your disadvantage finally becomes obvious in the course of play (GM’s decision), you must buy off the extra -5 points as soon as possible. The GM must pick a secret disadvantage carefully. It should be something that you could believably not know about. If it is a mental disadvantage, the conditions that trigger it should never have arisen (Berserk, Bloodlust, Combat Paralysis, the less-common Phobias, and Split Personality all work well here). Most physical disadvantages are too obvious – although something like Hemophilia might go unnoticed. You can only list one secret disadvantage on your character sheet, but this might represent more than one trait. The GM is free to select multiple, related disadvantages worth the appropriate number of points.

Villain Disadvantages Some disadvantages – Sadism, for instance – are not at all suitable for a “hero,” and the GM is free to forbid them to PCs. But they are often found in the more fiendish villains of


You can acquire a physical disadvantage during play, most likely due to accident or combat. In this case, you immediately suffer the bad effects of the disadvantage. Unlike starting disadvantages, however, physical handicaps acquired in play do not “give


Exotic disadvantages are forbidden to normal humans. Nonhumans may acquire such traits from their racial template (see Chapter 7), but they still need the GM’s permission to take additional exotic disadvantages. Exotic disadvantages are marked 1. Supernatural disadvantages are the result of divine intervention, magic, psionics, etc. With the GM’s permission, anyone might be cursed in this way – but only if supernatural powers exist in the game world. Supernatural disadvantages are marked 5. Mundane disadvantages are everything else. They are inborn, acquired, or self-imposed handicaps that anyone might have. Mundane disadvantages are not marked in any special way. Assume that a disadvantage with neither 1 nor 5 is available to anyone.

SELF-CONTROL FOR MENTAL DISADVANTAGES Many mental disadvantages do not affect you constantly – you may attempt to control your urges. An

asterisk (*) appears next to the point cost of any disadvantage that offers a chance to resist. For each disadvantage like this, you must choose a selfcontrol number: the number you must roll on 3d to avoid giving in. This modifies point value as follows: You resist quite rarely (roll of 6 or less): 2 ¥ listed cost. You resist fairly often (roll of 9 or less): 1.5 ¥ listed cost. You resist quite often (roll of 12 or less): listed cost. You resist almost all the time (roll of 15 or less): 0.5 ¥ listed cost. Drop all fractions (e.g., -22.5 points becomes -22 points). The “default” self-control number is 12: you must roll 12 or less on 3d to avoid giving in to your problem. This lets you use disadvantage costs as written. Choose a self-control number of 15 if you wish to have a tendency toward a disadvantage instead of a full-blown case. A self-control number of 9 will regularly limit your options. A self-control number of 6 can be crippling (especially with genuine psychiatric problems). Note your self-control number in parentheses after the name of the disadvantage on your character sheet. For instance, if you can resist Berserk on a roll of 9 or less, write this as “Berserk (9).”

Self-Imposed Mental Disadvantages Certain mental disadvantages – Code of Honor (p. 127), Disciplines of Faith (p. 132), Fanaticism (p. 136), Honesty (p. 138), Intolerance (p. 140), Sense of Duty (p. 153), Trademark (p. 159), and Vow (p. 160) – are not psychiatric problems, but beliefs or codes of conduct. Such “self-imposed mental disadvantages” share three features that distinguish them from other mental disadvantages: • They can be “bought off” with earned points at any time. People really do wake up in the morning and resolve to live their lives differently for no apparent reason! • They cannot be caused by Afflictions (p. 35), drugs, brain surgery, and similar “quick and dirty” behavior alteration. Such techniques can create a pacifist or a maniac, but you need magic, Mind Control (p. 68), or prolonged Brainwashing (p. 182) to impose anything as complex as a code of conduct. • They can be used with the Pact limitation (p. 113) as conditions to which you must adhere to retain certain supernatural powers.

and afflictions can make you more or less likely to give in. Other disadvantages can make you irritable, reducing your odds of resisting. See the disadvantage descriptions for details. Example: Your self-control number is 15, but you are in a highly stressful situation that gives -5 to your self-control roll. You must roll 10 or less to resist your disadvantage.

Many mental disadvantages do not affect you constantly – you may attempt to control your urges. Self-Control Rolls In circ*mstances that are likely to trigger your problem, you may opt to roll 3d against your self-control number to see whether your disadvantage actually affects you. If you roll less than or equal to this number, you resist your disadvantage – this time. Otherwise, you suffer the listed effects. This is called a self-control roll. Like all success rolls, self-control rolls are subject to modifiers. Exceptionally mild or severe stimuli can give bonuses or penalties. Drugs

You never have to try a self-control roll – you can always give in willingly, and it is good roleplaying to do so. However, there will be times when you really need to resist your urges, and that is what the roll is for. Be aware that if you attempt self-control rolls too often, the GM may penalize you for bad roleplaying by awarding you fewer earned points. Optionally, the GM may permit you to use one unspent character point to “buy” an automatic success on a selfcontrol roll. Points spent this way are


gone for good, but there will be times when staying on the straight and narrow is worth the sacrifice. In this case, the GM should not penalize you for bad roleplaying, because you are penalizing yourself! Note that high Will helps you make Fright Checks and resist supernatural emotion control, but it does not improve self-control rolls – not even for disadvantages with effects identical to these things. Mental disadvantages represent an aspect of your personality that you cannot simply will (or reason) away. This is part of what makes them disadvantages!

“BUYING OFF” DISADVANTAGES You may use bonus points to “buy off” many disadvantages – whether you started with them or acquired them in play. This costs as many points as the disadvantage originally gave you. If the GM permits, you may buy off leveled disadvantages one level at a time. Likewise, you can buy off those with self-control numbers gradually, by raising the self-control number. In both cases, the point cost is the difference between your former level and your current one. For more on buying off disadvantages, see Chapter 9.


DISADVANTAGE LIST Absent-Mindedness 2

-15 points

Expensive (up to 0.5% of average starting wealth): -10 points. Very expensive (more than 0.5% of average starting wealth): -20 points.

You have trouble focusing on anything not of immediate interest. You have -5 on all IQ and IQ-based skill rolls, save those for the task you are currently concentrating on. If no engaging task or topic presents itself, your attention will drift to more interesting matters in five minutes, and you will ignore your immediate surroundings until something catches your attention and brings you back. Once adrift in your own thoughts, you must roll against Perception-5 in order to notice any event short of personal physical injury. You may attempt to rivet your attention on a boring topic through sheer strength of will. To do so, make a Will-5 roll once every five minutes. “Boring topics” include small talk, repetitive manual tasks, guard duty, driving on an empty highway . . . Absent-minded individuals also tend to forget trivial tasks (like paying the bills) and items (like car keys and checkbooks). Whenever it becomes important that you have performed such a task or brought such an item, the GM should call for a roll against IQ-2. On a failure, this detail slipped your attention.

Examples: Tobacco is cheap, highly addictive, and legal; a chain-smoker has a -5-point Addiction. Heroin is very expensive, incapacitating, totally addictive, and illegal; a heroin addict has a -40-point Addiction.

Example: An absent-minded detective is in a shootout. He was involved in gunplay earlier in the day, in which he fired four rounds, so the GM calls for an IQ-2 roll. The detective fails the roll, and discovers too late that he forgot to reload his weapon, so his revolver has only two bullets left!

Effects of Drugs

This is the classic disadvantage for eccentric geniuses.

Addiction 2/3


You are addicted to a drug, which you must use daily or suffer withdrawal. The value of this disadvantage depends on the cost, effects, and legality of the drug:

Cost (per day) Cheap (up to 0.1% of average starting wealth): -5 points.


Effects Incapacitating or hallucinogenic: -10 points. Highly addictive (-5 on withdrawal roll): -5 points. Totally addictive (-10 on withdrawal roll): -10 points.

Legality Illegal: +0 points. Legal: +5 points.

Non-Chemical Addictions: You can take Addiction to an activity instead of a drug – for instance, telepathic contact or spending time in virtual reality. If this costs money, price the Addiction based on its daily cost. If it is free (e.g., telepathic contact), treat it as “Cheap” if it you can do it almost anywhere (telepathic contact with anyone) or as “Expensive” if restrictive conditions apply (telepathic contact with one specific person). Such Addictions almost always cause psychological dependency (see Withdrawal, below). A stimulating drug leaves you feeling energized . . . until it wears off. Then you are depressed and irritable. An incapacitating drug renders you unconscious (or just blissfully, uselessly drowsy) for about two hours. A hallucinogenic drug renders you useless for work or combat, though you might be active and talkative. Some drugs (e.g., tobacco) have none of these effects, while others have unique effects. Side effects are also possible. For detailed rules, see Addictive Drugs (p. 440).

Withdrawal Sometimes, voluntarily or otherwise, you must try to give up your Addiction. Addiction to a drug that


causes psychological dependency is a mental disadvantage; withdrawal from such a drug requires a series of Will rolls, and may result in mental problems. Addiction to a drug that induces physiological dependency is a physical disadvantage; withdrawal is a function of your HT, and may cause physical injury. For details, see Drug Withdrawal (p. 440). Should you successfully withdraw from an Addiction, you must immediately buy off this disadvantage.

Minor Addictions For an Addiction worth only -5 points, the GM may rule that the expense, stigma, and detrimental long-term effects of use are the whole of the disadvantage, and waive the usual withdrawal rules. This is appropriate for such drugs as tobacco and caffeine. If forced to go without, you must make a Will or HT roll as usual, but the only effects on a failure are general anxiety, irritability, or restlessness. This manifests as a temporary -1 to DX, IQ, self-control rolls, or reaction rolls (GM’s choice) – not as insanity or injury. Successive failures prolong the duration of the effects; they do not increase the size of the penalty. If you can make 14 successful rolls in succession, you must buy off your Addiction. It is also possible to create a 0point Addiction using these rules. Such Addictions are always Minor Addictions, and you may take them as -1-point quirks (see Quirks, p. 162).

Alcoholism 3

-15 or -20 points

You are an alcohol addict. Alcoholism uses the Addiction rules (above). It is cheap, incapacitating, and usually legal, so it would normally be a -10-point Addiction. But it is also insidious; therefore, it is worth -15 points – or -20 points if it is illegal. Most of the time, you may confine your drinking to the evenings, and therefore function normally (for game purposes). However, any time you are in the presence of alcohol, you must roll vs. Will to avoid partaking. A failed roll means you go on a “binge” lasting

2d hours, followed by a hangover; see Drinking and Intoxication (p. 439). Alcoholics on a binge are characterized by sudden mood swings – from extreme friendliness to extreme hostility – and may attack friends, talk too freely, or make other mistakes. The other drawback of Alcoholism is that it is hard to get rid of. Should you manage to “withdraw,” you no longer need to drink daily . . . but you must still make a Will+4 roll whenever you are in the presence of alcohol. A failed roll does not reinstate the addiction, but does set off a binge. (Three binges in a week will reinstate the addiction.) Thus, there is no normal way to “buy off” this disadvantage. Continued Alcoholism will steal your abilities. You must roll yearly against HT+2 until you withdraw. Failure means you lose a level from one of your four basic attributes – roll randomly to determine which.

Amnesia 2

-10 or -25 points

You’ve lost your memory. You can’t remember any of your past life, including your name. This disadvantage comes in two levels: Partial Amnesia: You, the player, can see your character sheet, but the GM may reserve up to -30 points of your disadvantage allotment for “secret” disadvantages of his choosing. You know that you can use certain skills, but have no idea where you learned them. You are likely to have enemies – and possibly friends – that you can’t remember. If you turn yourself in to the police, they can perform their standard ID checks . . . but you might turn out to be a wanted criminal. Even if you aren’t, finding out your name won’t restore your memory! -10 points. Total Amnesia: The only traits you can specify during character creation are those you could see in a mirror. The GM assigns everything else – and holds onto your full character sheet until your memory returns! You have no idea of your full abilities. Since the GM knows your quirks and mental traits, and you don’t, he will sometimes overrule your statements about what you’re doing. He will also make all skill rolls for you, because you have no idea what you can do until you try

it! Your IQ-based skill rolls are at -2 unless the GM feels that memory would have no effect at all on the task at hand. -25 points. You can only buy off Amnesia if there is some reason why you might recover your memory; e.g., meeting an old friend, reliving some fateful event, or the ever-popular blow to the head. In most cases, the cure will be related to the cause of the memory loss. Particularly twisted GMs might enjoy making the cause in question some form of brainwashing. In this case, one of the hidden disadvantages will probably be an Enemy with sufficient resources to have arranged the brainwashing in the first place.

Appearance see p. 21 Below-average appearance is a disadvantage, and should be noted as such on your character sheet.

Bad Back 3

-15 or -25 points

For whatever reason, your spinal column is in bad shape. During strenuous physical activity, you may “throw your back” and suffer crippling pain or further injury. Whenever you make a ST roll, and whenever you roll 17 or 18 on an attack or defense roll in melee combat, or on a roll for an “athletic” skill such as Acrobatics, make a HT roll as well. Modifiers: Any modifiers to the success roll for the activity that triggered the HT roll. For a long task that allows the luxury of planning, you can try to minimize the strain on your back; a successful IQ-2 or Physiology+4 roll gives +2 on the HT roll. On a failure, you throw your back. Consequences depend on the severity of your case: Mild: You are at -3 DX until you rest or someone helps you; a First Aid2 roll will reset your back. You are also at -3 IQ, but during the next second only (for your next turn, in combat). On a critical failure, you are at -5 DX and must make a Will roll to perform any physical action. -15 points. Severe: The HT roll is at -2. On a failure, DX and IQ are both at -4 until you receive rest or help; you are in


constant agony. On a critical failure, you take 1d-3 damage and are at -6 DX and -4 IQ. -25 points. High Pain Threshold (p. 59) halves all DX and IQ penalties (drop fractions), but does not eliminate them completely.

Bad Grip 3

-5 points/level

You have a penalty on tasks that require a firm grip. Each level (maximum three levels) gives -2 with such tasks. This penalty is overall – not per hand. Affected tasks include melee weapon use, climbing, catching things, and anything else the GM deems requires a firm grip (e.g., an Acrobatics roll to catch a trapeze). This disadvantage is mutually exclusive with No Fine Manipulators (p. 145).

Bad Sight 3

-25 points

You have poor vision. This applies to all your visual senses: regular vision, Infravision, Ultravision, etc. You may be nearsighted or farsighted – your choice. Nearsighted: You cannot read small print, computer displays, etc., more than a foot away, or road signs, etc., at more than about 10 yards. You are at -6 to Vision rolls to spot items more than one yard away. When making a melee attack, you are at -2 to skill. When making a ranged attack, double the actual distance to the target when calculating the range modifier. -25 points. Farsighted: You cannot read text except with great difficulty (triple normal time). You are at -6 to Vision rolls to spot items within one yard, and you have -3 to DX on any close manual task, including close combat. -25 points.

Special Limitations Mitigator: At TL5+, you can acquire glasses that compensate totally for Bad Sight while they are worn. At TL7+, contact lenses are available. In both cases, remember that accidents can happen . . . and that enemies can deprive you of these items. If you are starting at a tech level in which vision can be corrected, you must take this limitation. -60%.


Bad Smell 3

-10 points

You exude an appalling odor that you cannot remove, such as the stench of death and decay. This causes a -2 reaction from most people and animals (although pests or carrion-eating scavengers might be unusually attracted to you!). You can mask the smell with perfumes, but the overpowering amount needed results in the same reaction penalty.

Bad Temper 2

-10 points*

You are not in full control of your emotions. Make a self-control roll in any stressful situation. If you fail, you lose your temper and must insult, attack, or otherwise act against the cause of the stress.

Berserk 2

-10 points*

You tend to rampage out of control when you or a loved one is harmed, making frenzied attacks against whoever or whatever you see as the cause of the trouble. If you also suffer from Bad Temper (above), any stress may trigger Berserk. Make a self-control roll any time you suffer damage over 1/4 your HP in the space of one second, and whenever you witness equivalent harm to a loved one. If you fail, you go berserk. You go berserk automatically if you fail a self-control roll for Bad Temper! You may deliberately go berserk by taking the Concentrate maneuver and making a successful Will roll. Once you are berserk, the following rules apply: • If armed with a hand weapon, you must make an All-Out Attack each turn a foe is in range. If no foe is in range, you must use a Move maneuver to get as close as possible to a foe – and if you can Move and Attack, or end your Move with a slam, you will. • If the enemy is more than 20 yards away, you may attack with a ranged weapon if you have one, but you may not take the Aim maneuver. If using a gun, you blaze away at your maximum rate of fire until your gun is empty. You cannot reload unless your weapon – and your Fast-Draw skill – lets you reload “without thought” (can


take no more than one second). Once your gun is empty, you must either draw another gun or charge into melee combat. • You are immune to stun and shock, and your injuries cause no penalty to your Move score. You make all rolls to remain conscious or alive at +4 to HT. If you don’t fail any rolls, you remain alive and madly attacking until you reach -5¥HP. Then you fall – dead! • When you down a foe, you may (if you wish) attempt another self-control roll to see if you snap out of the berserk state. If you fail (or do not roll), you remain berserk and attack the next foe. Treat any friend who attempts to restrain you as a foe! You get to roll again each time you down a foe, and you get one extra roll when no more foes remain. If you are still berserk, you start to attack your friends . . . Once you snap out of the berserk state, all your wounds immediately affect you. Roll at normal HT to see whether you remain conscious and alive.

Special Enhancements Battle Rage. You go berserk in any combat situation, regardless of whether you have been injured. To avoid this, you must make a self-control roll when you first enter combat (even a barroom brawl or a boxing match). +50%.

Bestial 2 1

-10 or -15 points

You think and react like a wild animal. You have no concept of “civilized” standards of morality or propriety, and no concept of property. You fight or flee from those who frighten or threaten you. You cannot learn skills that, in the GM’s opinion, rely on “civilized” notions of art or social interaction, and you have no default with such skills. You are not necessarily out of control; you simply react in an animalistic manner. You will usually ignore those who leave you alone (unless they’re food!), and might even come to display affection for those who treat you with special kindness. You cannot understand property in the human sense, but (depending on your race) you might understand territory and


avoid doing damage to objects on another’s territory. Whether you regard humans as individuals with territory rights is an open question! You might also understand dominance, and respect or even obey a human who has proved to be stronger than you. You cannot take an Odious Personal Habit for your beast-like behavior; that’s included in the cost of Bestial. But if your behavior is extremely repugnant to humans – equivalent in severity to a -15-point Odious Personal Habit – the GM might rule that Bestial is worth -15 points instead of the usual -10. You are free to take Odious Personal Habits unrelated to beast-like behavior (including “eats humans”), however. Bestial is not necessarily tied to low IQ, but roleplaying a character who is both Bestial and remarkably intelligent would be a major challenge requiring a lot of thought and effort. The GM may therefore choose to restrict Bestial to characters with IQ scores under 10 (or even under 6!), or simply reserve it for NPCs. Note that the Wild Animal metatrait (p. 263) includes this disadvantage.

Blindness 3

-50 points

You cannot see at all. In unfamiliar territory, you must travel slowly and carefully, or have a companion or guide animal lead you. Many actions are impossible for you; the GM should use common sense. You are at -6 to all combat skills. You can use hand weapons, but you cannot target a particular hit location. If using a ranged weapon, you can only attack randomly, or engage targets so close that you can hear them. All this assumes you are accustomed to blindness. If you suddenly lose your eyesight, you fight at -10, just as if you were in total darkness. In either case, you suffer no extra penalties for operating in the dark. If you have Blindness, you cannot purchase superhuman vision abilities. If you see in a spectrum other than the visible one, you have the 0-point version of Infravision (p. 60) or Ultravision (p. 94) – not Blindness and the 10-point version of one of those advantages. Note that Scanning Sense

(p. 81) and Vibration Sense (p. 96) are not vision; you may take either of these traits in conjunction with Blindness, at the usual point costs.

Bloodlust 2

-10 points*

You want to see your foes dead. In battle, you must go for killing blows, and put in an extra shot to make sure of a downed foe. You must make a self-control roll whenever you need to accept a surrender, evade a sentry, take a prisoner, etc. If you fail, you attempt to kill your foe instead – even if that means breaking the law, compromising stealth, wasting ammo, or violating orders. Out of combat, you never forget that a foe is a foe. This may seem a truly evil trait, but many fictional heroes suffer from it. The hero is not a fiend or sad*st; his animosity is limited to “legitimate” enemies, be they criminals, enemy soldiers, or feuding clansmen. He often has a good reason for feeling as he does. And, in an ordinary tavern brawl, he would use his fists like anyone else. On the other hand, a gladiator or duelist with Bloodlust would be very unpopular, a policeman would soon be up on charges, and a soldier would risk a court-martial.

Bully 2

-10 points*

You like to push people around whenever you can get away with it. Depending on your personality and position, this might take the form of physical attacks, intellectual harassment, or social “cutting.” Make a selfcontrol roll to avoid gross bullying when you know you shouldn’t – but to roleplay your character properly, you should bully anybody you can. Since nobody likes a bully, others react to you at -2.

Callous 2

-5 points

You are merciless, if not cruel. You can decipher others’ emotions, but you do so only to manipulate them – you don’t care about their feelings or pain. This gives you -3 on all Teaching rolls, on Psychology rolls made to help others (as opposed to deduce weaknesses or conduct scientific research), and on any skill roll made to interact

with those who have suffered the consequences of your callousness in the past (GM’s decision). As well, past victims, and anyone with Empathy, will react to you at -1. But ruthlessness has its perks: you get an extra +1 to Interrogation and Intimidation rolls when you use threats or torture.

Cannot Learn 2

-30 points

You cannot spend earned character points to add or improve DX, IQ, skills, or mental advantages, nor can you acquire new techniques (see Techniques, p. 229) or familiarities (see Familiarity, p. 169) to accompany existing skills. You are stuck with your starting abilities! You can still increase your ST and HT, and add physical advantages (with the GM’s permission). As well, Cannot Learn doesn’t prevent you from temporarily acquiring skills using the Modular Abilities advantage (p. 71). Those with computer brains often possess both traits. This trait is most suitable for golems, mindless undead, robots, and other automata.

Cannot Speak 3

-15 or -25 points

You have a limited capacity for speech. This trait comes in two levels:


Cannot Speak: You can make vocal sounds (bark, growl, trill, etc., as appropriate), but your speech organs are incapable of the subtle modulations required for language. You may still have the Mimicry or Voice advantage, or the Disturbing Voice disadvantage (but not Stuttering). Most animals have this trait. -15 points.

Mute: You cannot vocalize at all. All communications with others must be nonverbal: writing, sign language, Morse code, telepathy, etc. Time spent communicating this way counts at full value for study of the related skills (see Chapter 9). No roll is required (or allowed!) when you try to communicate with PCs who don’t know your sign language – roleplay this on your own! You cannot have any other voicerelated traits. -25 points.

Charitable 2

-15 points*

You are acutely aware of others’ emotions, and feel compelled to help those around you – even legitimate enemies. Make a self-control roll in any situation where you could render aid or are specifically asked for help, but should resist the urge. If you fail, you must offer assistance, even if that means violating orders or walking into a potential trap.


Chronic Depression 2

-15 points*

You’ve lost your will to live. You’d commit suicide, but it seems like so much trouble. Make a self-control roll to do anything but acquire and consume the minimum necessities for survival (for instance, to motivate yourself to go to a movie, attend a job interview, or keep a date), or whenever you must choose between two or more actions. If you fail, you take the path of least resistance. This usually means staying put and doing nothing. If your self-control number is sufficiently low, you will find it almost impossible to do anything at all for yourself, unless someone physically drags you out of your lair. If somebody shows up and demands that you go out and do something with him, make a self-control roll. If you fail, you go along with his plan out of apathy. You may eventually replace this disadvantage with another one of equivalent value that is more conducive to self-esteem. The GM need only allow this evolution if you roleplay it convincingly. The GM may also require you to roleplay both disadvantages (the new one constantly, the Chronic Depression whenever the GM decides to bring it into play) during the transition period. You may also acquire this disadvantage in play. If you violate a selfimposed mental disadvantage (see p. 121), or lose a Dependent, the GM may replace that disadvantage with this one.

Chronic Pain 3


You have an injury, disorder, or illness that leaves you in severe pain on a regular basis – perhaps even constantly. Examples include arthritis, bone cancer, migraines, and pieces of shrapnel embedded in the body (an “old war wound”). Roll against the frequency of appearance for your Chronic Pain once per day. If you roll below this number, you suffer a bout of pain. The timing of this attack is up to the GM, but it usually occurs during waking hours – you might wake up with it, or it might be set off by stress (fatigue, exertion, etc.) during the day.


While in pain, reduce your DX and IQ by the amount specified for the severity of your pain (see below). Reduce self-control rolls to resist disadvantages such as Bad Temper and Berserk by the same amount – someone in pain is more likely to lose his cool. If the GM rules that the attack occurs while you are trying to sleep, you suffer penalties for sleep deprivation instead of the usual effects of this disadvantage. Chronic Pain attacks endure for a fixed “interval,” after which you may attempt a HT roll to recover. If you succeed, you have dealt with your pain . . . today. If you fail, the attack continues for another interval, after which you may attempt another HT roll. And so on.

Attack occurs on a roll of 12 or less: ¥2. Attack occurs on a roll of 15 or less: ¥3.

Chummy 2

-5 or -10 points

You work well with others and seek out company. This trait comes in two levels: Chummy: You react to others at +2 most of the time. When alone, you are unhappy and distracted, and suffer a -1 penalty to IQ-based skills. -5 points. Gregarious: You usually react to others at +4. You are miserable when alone, and use IQ-based skills at -2 – or at -1 if in a group of four or less. -10 points.

If your self-control number is sufficiently low, you will find it almost impossible to do anything at all for yourself, unless someone physically drags you out of your lair.

Find the point cost of Chronic Pain by choosing a severity and then multiplying the given cost to reflect the interval and frequency of attacks. Drop all fractions.

Severity Mild: -2 to DX, IQ, and self-control rolls: -5 points. Severe: -4 to DX, IQ, and self-control rolls: -10 points. Agonizing: -6 to DX, IQ, and selfcontrol rolls: -15 points.

Interval 1 hour: ¥0.5. 2 hours: ¥1. 4 hours: ¥1.5. 8 hours: ¥2.

Frequency of Appearance Attack occurs on a roll of 6 or less: ¥0.5. Attack occurs on a roll of 9 or less: ¥1.


Clueless 2

-10 points

You totally miss the point of any wit aimed at you, and are oblivious to attempts to seduce you (+4 to resist Sex Appeal). The meanings of colloquial expressions escape you. Sophisticated manners are also beyond you, giving -4 to Savoir-Faire skill. You have many minor habits that annoy others (e.g., leaving the turn signal on while driving from Chicago to Albuquerque), and may take one or two of these as quirks. Most people will react to you at -2. Unlike No Sense of Humor (p. 146), you may make jokes – albeit lame ones – and you can appreciate slapstick and written humor. However, you rarely “get” verbal humor, especially if you are the target (roll vs. IQ-4 roll to realize you’re the butt of the joke). And unlike Gullibility (p. 137),

you normally realize when someone is trying to take advantage of you, except in social situations. You are no more susceptible to Fast-Talk than normal, save when someone is trying to convince you that an attractive member of the appropriate sex is interested in you . . . This disadvantage is most appropriate for ivory-tower geniuses, aliens from Mars, etc.

Code of Honor 2

-5 to -15 points

You take pride in a set of principles that you follow at all times. The specifics can vary, but they always involve “honorable” behavior. You will do nearly anything – perhaps even risk death – to avoid the label “dishonorable” (whatever that means). You must do more than pay lip service to a set of principles to get points for a Code of Honor. You must be a true follower of the Code! This is a disadvantage because it often requires dangerous – if not reckless – behavior. Furthermore, you can often be forced into unfair situations, because your foes know you are honorable. Code of Honor is not the same as Duty (p. 133) or Sense of Duty (p. 153). A samurai or British grenadier marches into battle against fearful odds out of duty, not for his personal honor (though of course he would lose honor by fleeing). The risks you take for your honor are solely on your own account. The point value of a particular Code of Honor depends on how much trouble it is liable to get you into and how arbitrary and irrational its requirements are. An informal Code that applies only among your peers is worth -5 points. A formal Code that applies only among peers, or an informal one that applies all the time, is worth -10 points. A formal Code that applies all the time, or that requires suicide if broken, is worth -15 points. The GM has the final say! Some examples: Code of Honor (Pirate’s): Always avenge an insult, regardless of the danger; your buddy’s foe is your own; never attack a fellow crewman or buddy except in a fair, open duel.

Anything else goes. This is also suitable for brigands, bikers, etc. -5 points. Code of Honor (Professional): Adhere to the ethics of your profession; always do your job to the best of your ability; support your guild, union, or professional association. This is most suitable for lawyers and physicians (Hippocratic Oath), but dedicated tradesmen, merchants, and so forth may have a similar Code. -5 points. Code of Honor (Gentleman’s): Never break your word. Never ignore an insult to yourself, a lady, or your flag; insults may only be wiped out by an apology or a duel (not necessarily to the death!). Never take advantage of an opponent in any way; weapons and circ*mstances must be equal (except in open war). This only applies between gentlemen. A discourtesy from anyone of Status 0 or less calls for a whipping, not a duel! -10 points. Code of Honor (Soldier’s): An officer should be tough but fair, lead from the front, and look out for his men; an enlisted man should look out for his buddies and take care of his kit. Every soldier should be willing to fight and die for the honor of his unit, service, and country; follow orders; obey the “rules of war”; treat an honorable enemy with respect (a dishonorable enemy deserves a bullet); and wear the uniform with pride. -10 points. Code of Honor (Chivalry): As Code of Honor (Gentleman’s), except that flags haven’t been invented. Respond to any insult to your liege-lord or to your faith. Protect any lady, and anyone weaker than yourself. Accept any challenge to arms from anyone of greater or equal rank. Even in open war, sides and weapons must be equal if the foe is also noble and chivalrous. -15 points.

Cold-Blooded 3 1

-5 or -10 points

Your body temperature fluctuates with the temperature of the environment. You are less susceptible to damage from high or low body temperature (+2 HT to resist the effects of temperature), and require only 1/3 the food needed by a warm-blooded being of equal mass, but you tend to “stiffen up” in cold weather. After 30 minutes in cold conditions (or one hour if you have any level of


Temperature Tolerance), you get -1 to Basic Speed and DX per 10° below your “threshold temperature” (see below). At temperatures below 32°, you must roll vs. HT or take 1 HP of damage. Warm clothing gives +2 to this roll. You regain lost Basic Speed and DX at the rate of one point of each per hour once you return to a warm climate. Double this rate in an exceptionally warm environment. Point value depends on your “threshold temperature”: You “stiffen up” below 50°: -5 points. You “stiffen up” below 65°: -10 points.

Colorblindness 3

-10 points

You cannot see any colors at all (this is total colorblindness). In any situation requiring color identification (e.g., gem buying, livery identification, or pushing the red button to start the motor), the GM should give you appropriate difficulties. Certain skills are always harder for you. In particular, you are at -1 on most Artist, Chemistry, Driving, Merchant, Piloting, and Tracking rolls.

Combat Paralysis 3

-15 points

You tend to “freeze up” in combat situations, and receive -2 to all Fright Checks. This has nothing to do with Cowardice (p. 129) – you may be brave, but your body betrays you. In any situation in which personal harm seems imminent, make a HT roll. Do not roll until the instant you need to fight, run, pull the trigger, or whatever. Any roll over 13 is a failure, even if you have HT 14+. On a success, you can act normally. On a failure, you are mentally stunned (see Effects of Stun, p. 420). Make another HT roll every second, at a cumulative +1 per turn after the first, to break the freeze. A quick slap from a friend gives +1 to your cumulative roll. Once you unfreeze, you will not freeze again until the immediate danger is over. Then, in the next dangerous situation, you may freeze once again. This trait is the opposite of Combat Reflexes (p. 43). You cannot have both.


Compulsive Behavior 2

-5 to -15 points*

You have a habit – often a vice – that wastes a good deal of your time or money. You must indulge at least once per day, if at all possible, and do so any time you have the opportunity unless you can make a self-control roll. You seek to avoid any situation where you know you will be unable to indulge for more than a day. You must make a self-control roll to enter into such a situation; if you succeed (or are forced into the situation), you suffer from Bad Temper (p. 124) the whole time, with the same self-control roll as your Compulsive Behavior. It’s bad roleplaying to try to avoid your compulsion regularly! The point value of this disadvantage depends on how much your habit costs and how much trouble it is likely to get you into. The GM is the final judge. Examples include: Compulsive Carousing: You cannot resist the urge to party! Once per day, you must seek out a social gathering and lounge around – feasting, drinking, singing, and joking – for at least an hour. If you are not invited, you


crash the party; if there is no party, you attempt to liven things up. Money is no object! If you have it, you will spend it. You try almost any mindaltering substance without a second thought, never refuse a social drink, and aren’t particularly picky about your romantic partners. You get +1 to reactions from like-minded extroverts, but -1 or worse from sober-minded citizens – and -4 in puritanical settings. -5 points* (-10 points* in puritanical settings). Compulsive Gambling: You cannot pass up an opportunity to gamble. Bets, wagers, games of chance, and even lotteries hold an uncanny fascination for you. If there is no game of chance or bet going, you will start one. You try any gambling game proposed to you, whether you know it or not. You do not have to have the Gambling skill, but if you don’t, you will need a steady source of wealth! If you are prevented from gambling – for instance, by traveling with nongamblers – you will quickly earn a reaction penalty (-1 per -5 points in this disadvantage, after the self-control multiplier) by constantly talking about gambling and attempting to draw others into games or wagers. -5 points.*


Compulsive Generosity: You are too open-handed. If a beggar asks for cash, you give – and where others give copper, you give silver. You always listen to larger requests for financial aid, if they are even remotely plausible, and you must make a self-control roll whenever you hear a good hard-luck story (if you are broke when asked, you apologize profusely). You aren’t a complete sucker – you just feel guilty about being better off than others. In a society with a lot of beggars around, increase your cost of living: Self-Control Cost of Number Living Increase 6 20% 9 15% 12 10% 15 5% This may earn you a +1 reaction bonus from pious folk; if you are poor yourself, the reaction bonus may be even higher. This trait is incompatible with Miserliness. -5 points.* Compulsive Lying: You lie constantly, for no reason other than the joy of telling the tale. You delight in inventing stories about your deeds, lineage, wealth – whatever might impress your

audience. Even when exposed as a liar, you cling to your stories tenaciously, calling your accuser a liar and a scoundrel. Make a self-control roll to tell the pure, unvarnished truth. If you fail, you lie – no matter how dire the consequences. When you roll to tell the truth to your fellow party members, roll out of sight of the other players. Thus, they can never be sure they are getting accurate information. -15 points.* Compulsive Spending: Cash just runs through your fingers! You enjoy being seen as a big spender, are too fond of luxury, or find the experience of buying to be fun – perhaps all three. Make a self-control roll whenever someone offers you a purchase that matches any of your quirks or interests, and the cash in your pocket is more than twice the asking price. If you fail, you buy. This raises your cost of living, and gives you a penalty to Merchant skill when you bargain or haggle: Self-Control Number 6 9 12 15

Cost of Living Increase 80% 40% 20% 10%

Merchant Skill Penalty -4 -3 -2 -1

Compulsive Spending is not limited to the wealthy! A poor farmer can be a spendthrift. This trait is incompatible with Miserliness (it’s the opposite!), but you can combine it with Greed. -5 points.* Compulsive Vowing: You never simply decide to do something; you must make it an oath. Although these vows are often trivial in nature, you approach them all with the same solemnity and dedication. You may tack extraneous vows onto legitimate ones. -5 points.*

Confused 2

-10 points*

To you, the world seems a strange and incomprehensible place most of the time. You are not necessarily stupid, but you are slow to pick up on new facts or situations. In particular, you respond poorly to excessive stimulation. When alone in the peace and quiet of your own home, you function normally. But in a

strange place, or when there’s a commotion going on, you must make a self-control roll. On a failure, you freeze up instead of taking decisive or appropriate action. This often prevents you from making Tactics rolls and engaging in other sorts of longrange planning. The GM should adjust the self-control roll in accordance with the stimuli in the area. To resist confusion from two friends chatting quietly in a familiar room would require an unmodified roll, but a nightclub with flashing lights and pounding music might give -5, and a full-scale riot or battle would give -10! If this disadvantage strikes in combat, you must take the Do Nothing maneuver each turn. You are not stunned, and if you are directly and physically attacked, you can defend yourself normally. You can even launch a counterattack against that one foe. But you never act – only react.

Cowardice 2

-10 points*

You are extremely careful about your physical well-being. Make a selfcontrol roll any time you are called on to risk physical danger. Roll at -5 if you must risk death. If you fail, you must refuse to endanger yourself unless threatened with greater danger! Cowardice gives a penalty to Fright Checks whenever physical danger is involved: Self-Control Number 6 9 12 15

Fright Check Penalty -4 -3 -2 -1

In some times and places, soldiers, police, etc., react to you at a similar penalty if they know you are a coward.

Curious 2

-5 points*

You are naturally very inquisitive. This is not the curiosity that affects all PCs (“What’s in that cave? Where did the flying saucer come from?”), but the real thing (“What happens if I push this button?”). Make a self-control roll when presented with an interesting item or situation. If you fail, you examine it –


push buttons, pull levers, open doors, unwrap presents, etc. – even if you know it could be dangerous. Good roleplayers won’t try to make this roll very often . . . In general, you do everything in your power to investigate any situation with which you aren’t 100% familiar. When faced with a real mystery, you simply cannot turn your back on it. You try to rationalize your curiosity to others who try to talk you out of it. Common Sense doesn’t help – you know you are taking a risk, but you’re curious anyway!

Cursed 2 5

-75 points

Like Unluckiness (p. 160), but worse. When anything goes wrong for your party, it happens to you, first and worst. If something goes right, it misses you. Any time the GM feels like hosing you, he can, and you have no complaint coming, because you are Cursed. You can’t buy this off just by spending points – you must determine what has cursed you and deal with it, and then spend the points.

Deafness 3

-20 points

You cannot hear anything. You must receive information in writing (if you are literate) or sign language. However, time you spend communicating this way counts at full value for study of the skills used (Gesture, LipReading, etc.); see Chapter 9.

Debt see p. 26

Decreased Time Rate 21

-100 points

This is the disadvantageous counterpart to Altered Time Rate (p. 38). You experience time half as fast as normal: one subjective second for every two real seconds that pass. You only get a turn every two seconds in combat! (Gaming groups that enjoy extra detail might wish to give characters with Decreased Time Rate “halfturns” instead: splitting a Move maneuver across two turns, declaring an Attack maneuver one turn and rolling to hit the next, etc.)


Delusions 2

-5 to -15 points

You believe something that simply is not true. This may cause others to consider you insane. And they may be right! If you suffer from a Delusion, you must roleplay your belief at all times. The point value of the Delusion depends on its nature: Minor: This Delusion affects your behavior, and anyone around you will soon notice it, but it does not keep you from functioning more-or-less normally. Those who notice your Delusion will react at -1. Examples: “Squirrels are messengers from God.” “The Illuminati are watching me constantly – but only to protect me.” “I am the rightful Duke of Fnordia, stolen at birth by Gypsies and doomed to live among commoners.” -5 points. Major: This Delusion strongly affects your behavior, but does not keep you from living a fairly normal life. Others will react at -2. Examples: “The government has all phones tapped.” “I have Eidetic Memory and Absolute Direction.” -10 points.

say hello, that’s a quirk. If you won’t discuss serious matters with purple things in the room, it’s a Minor Delusion. If you picket the Capitol demanding Civil Rights For Purple Things, that’s Major. If you attack purple things on sight, that’s Severe! Regardless of how insane you really are, you may not get more than -40 points, total, from Delusions. A GM who wants to shake up his players can have a Delusion turn out to be true. This does not suit all Delusions. Of those listed above, for instance, the ones about squirrels, ice cream, and Napoleon seem unlikely. But the Illuminati might really exist, or Gypsies might really have stolen the heir to the throne of Fnordia . . . Have fun! If your Delusion turns out to be true, you don’t have to buy it off until the other players realize it’s true. (And remember: the GM won’t tell you that you are not really crazy. You can be right and still be crazy . . .)

A GM who wants to shake up his players can have a Delusion turn out to be true. (And remember: the GM won’t tell you that you are not really crazy. You can be right and still be crazy . . .) Severe: This Delusion affects your behavior so much that it may keep you from functioning in the everyday world. Others react to you at -3, but they are more likely to fear or pity you than to attack. A Delusion this severe can keep you from participating meaningfully in the campaign; therefore, you should always clear it with the GM first. Examples: “I am Napoleon.” “I am immortal.” “Ice cream makes machines work better, especially computers. Spoon it right in.” -15 points. Depending on your behavior, the same Delusion could be a quirk (-1 point) or worth -5, -10, or -15 points. Consider “Everything colored purple is alive.” If you pat purple things and


Dependency 3 1


You must regularly ingest a substance (e.g., a drug or magic potion), touch or carry an object (e.g., a holy shrine or magical amulet), or spend time in an environment (e.g., your coffin or your home country, planet, or plane) in order to survive. If you fail to do so, you start to lose HP and will eventually die. Point value depends on the rarity of the item you depend on: Rare (cannot be bought; must be found or made): -30 points. Occasional (very expensive or hard to find): -20 points. Common (expensive, somewhat hard to find): -10 points.


Very Common (available almost anywhere): -5 points. Add -5 points to these values for items that are illegal in your game world. Apply a multiplier based on the frequency with which you must receive the item: Constantly: You must carry and use the substance at all times – for example, an exotic atmosphere. Lose 1 HP per minute without the substance. ¥5. Hourly: Lose 1 HP per 10 minutes after missing an hourly dose. ¥4. Daily: Lose 1 HP per hour after missing a daily dose. ¥3. Weekly: Lose 1 HP per six hours after missing a weekly dose. ¥2. Monthly: Lose 1 HP per day after missing a monthly dose. ¥1. Seasonally: Lose 1 HP per three days after missing a seasonal dose (a “season” is three months for this purpose). ¥1/3 (drop all fractions). Yearly: Lose 1 HP per two weeks after missing a yearly dose. ¥1/10 (drop all fractions). If you need to touch an object or spend time in an environment, you must do so for time equal to your damage interval in order to avoid damage. For instance, to avoid losing 1 HP per hour to a daily Dependency on rest in your coffin, you must spend at least one hour per day in your coffin. To avoid losing 1 HP every two weeks to a yearly Dependency on visiting your home planet, you must visit your home planet for at least two weeks per year. With the GM’s permission, normal humans may take this disadvantage to represent the special requirements of certain chronic illnesses. Not every life-support requirement qualifies as Dependency. Use Maintenance (p. 143) if you require skilled care – not a substance, object, or environment – to avoid HT loss (not injury). Use Restricted Diet (p. 151) for special dietary requirements that result in slow starvation as opposed to rapid HP loss when you are forced to do without.

Special Enhancements Aging: You age unnaturally without the item you depend on. For each HP lost, you also age two years (even if you are normally Unaging). +30%.

Dependents 4


A “Dependent” is an NPC for whom you are responsible; e.g., your child, kid brother, or spouse. You must take care of your Dependents. Furthermore, your foes can strike at you through them. (If you have both an Enemy and a Dependent, and the dice indicate that both appear, then the GM can build an entire adventure around this theme!) If your Dependent ends up kidnapped or otherwise in danger during play, you must go to the rescue as soon as possible. If you don’t go to his aid immediately, the GM can deny you bonus character points for “acting out of character.” Furthermore, you never earn any character points for a game session in which your Dependent is killed or badly hurt. Three factors determine the disadvantage value of a Dependent: his competence, his importance (to you!), and his frequency of appearance.

Competence Specify the number of points your Dependent is built on. The more points you use to “build” your Dependent, the more competent he will be, and the fewer points he will be worth as a disadvantage. “Point Total” is the Dependent’s point total as a fraction of the PC’s, except for the last line, which is absolute; “Cost” is the number of character points the disadvantage is worth. Point Total No more than 100% No more than 75% No more than 50% No more than 25% 0 or fewer points

Cost -1 point -2 points -5 points -10 points -15 points

The same person can be both a Dependent and an Ally (p. 36)! Add the cost of Ally and Dependent together, and treat the combination as a single trait: an advantage if the total point cost is positive, a disadvantage if it is negative. You must use the same point total for him in both cases, but frequency of appearance can differ. Roll separately for his appearance as a Dependent and as an Ally. If he appears as a Dependent, he shows up in a way that causes you trouble (e.g., he’s captured). If he appears as an Ally,

he manages to be helpful and take care of himself. If he appears as both, he is helpful and troublesome at the same time; for instance, he uses his skills to assist you, but also wanders off, is singled out by the enemy, or otherwise causes problems equal to the assistance he offers.

Importance The more important your Dependent is to you, the more you multiply his intrinsic “nuisance value” and worth in points. Employer or acquaintance: You feel a responsibility toward this person, but you may weigh risks to him in a rational fashion. ¥1/2. Friend: You must always try to protect this person. You may only risk harm to him if something very important (such as the safety of many other people) is at stake. ¥1. Loved one: The Dependent is a relative or a lover. You may not put anything before his safety! ¥2.

Frequency of Appearance Choose a frequency of appearance, as explained under Frequency of Appearance (p. 36). This should fit the “story” behind the Dependent. If the Dependent were your infant child, for instance, it would be odd for him to appear “quite rarely”!

Multiple Dependents You cannot earn points for more than two Dependents. However, if you have a group of Dependents, you may count the entire group as your two Dependents. Work out the value of an average member of the group as a Dependent, and then claim twice this point value. Example: A vigilante who is a schoolteacher by day could have “generic dependents”: all pupils. They are young (-10 points), around “quite often” (¥2), and count as “friends” (¥1), for -20 points each. However, the twoDependent limit lets the hero claim -40 points’ worth of Dependents. (And if one gets hurt, there are always others.)

Dependents in Play As you earn points, the GM will scale your Dependent’s abilities proportionally to keep his point total a fixed percentage of your own. Thus, his value as a disadvantage will not


change. Children grow up, adults earn money, and everyone learns new skills. Dependents who spend a lot of time around you might become adventurers in their own right. You are free to suggest reasonable improvements for your Dependents, but the GM’s word is final. If your Dependent is killed, or so seriously injured that the GM decides he is effectively out of the campaign, you must make up the bonus points you got for him. You have three options: buy off the amount by spending earned character points, take a new disadvantage (e.g., Chronic Depression, p. 126), or get a new Dependent. New Dependents are usually inappropriate, but a mental disability brought on by the loss is a good solution. (Ever since the octopus got Amy, you’ve been afraid of the ocean . . .)

Examples of Dependents • For anyone: elderly relatives, teachers, friends, children, younger brothers or sisters, lovers, husbands or wives. • For crimefighters: young sidekicks, reporters, or wards. • For wizards: apprentices. • For ship captains (ocean- or space-going): ensigns or cabin boys. • For soldiers: orphans or new recruits. • For criminals or mad scientists: incompetent henchmen.

Destiny 2 5


A disadvantageous Destiny functions identically to an advantageous one (see p. 48), save that it always leads to something bad – but perhaps not immediately, and not without a chance to gain honor by dealing with it well. A fated, tragic death can be an end worthy of a hero! This kind of Destiny comes in three levels: Minor Disadvantage: You are fated to play a small part in a larger story, and you will not come off so well. You are guaranteed at least one tragic experience or embarrassing failure – although these things are unlikely to result in your death except under the most desperate and heroic of circ*mstances. -5 points.


Major Disadvantage: You are fated to play a key role in a sorry turn of events. For instance, you might be late with a message that could save the day . . . or execute the only competent general in a threatened province, causing its loss to barbarian invaders. Still, you will survive. -10 points. Great Disadvantage: Death stalks you. Something out there has your name on it. It knows where you are and it’s getting closer all the time. You will either die or be ruined, and your fall will have terrible repercussions for others. This kind of Destiny is not suitable for every campaign! The GM does not have to allow it – and if he does, he should plan on letting the campaign take a radical turn, or end, when the Destiny is fulfilled. -15 points. You must buy off a disadvantageous Destiny as soon as it is fulfilled. This is automatic if the outcome strips you of Allies, Status, Wealth, etc. worth the same number of points. If you lack the points to buy off your Destiny, you gain Unluckiness (p. 160), regardless of the point value of the Destiny. It is up to the GM whether you can buy off the Unluckiness! Alternatively, the GM might assign you a new bad Destiny, Divine Curse (below), or other supernatural disadvantage.

Disciplines of Faith 2

-5 to -15 points

You live by a strict set of rules in order to achieve a greater understanding of your faith. This might be a personal decision or a requirement of your religion. Such rules are optional in many faiths, though – indeed, some religions might forbid them as excesses! Disciplines of Faith are often a prerequisite for abilities that channel divine power: Power Investiture, True Faith, etc. Some examples of Disciplines of Faith: Asceticism: You have renounced the comforts of society to lead a life of self-denial and self-discipline. This often involves some sort of isolation in bleak, austere settings. It might even involve sporadic bouts of severe selfpunishment to excise the mortal taint of earthly desire. You must try to transcend all need for worldly possessions,


and in any event cannot have aboveaverage Wealth, or Status beyond that granted by your Religious Rank (if any). -15 points. Monasticism: You lead a life apart from worldly concerns. You are completely devoted to religious pursuits, which often involves the denial of ego and self. You must spend at least 75% of your time sequestered from the world, and cannot have above-average Wealth, or Status beyond that granted by your Religious Rank (if any). -10 points. Mysticism: You engage in deep meditation and trance-like contemplation, with the aim of obtaining a closer union with the divine. You spend most of your time engaged in these rituals, complete with chanting and any other necessary trappings. Individuals other than devout co-religionists will consider you a bit mad, and will react at -2. -10 points. Ritualism: You adhere strictly to elaborate rituals regarding every aspect of life – from waking to eating to bathing to sex. Each ritual has its proper place, time, words, trappings, and ceremony. Your fundamental belief is that, through the perfect performance of these rituals, you bring each aspect of your life closer to the divine. -5 points.

Disturbing Voice 3

-10 points

Your voice is naturally unpleasant or obviously artificial. Details can vary. You might be a robot, or use a technological aid to mitigate the Mute disadvantage. Your voice might be raspy, hollow, or squeaky, or your speech might be monotonous and without inflection. The game effects in all cases are identical to those of Stuttering (p. 157), although you do not necessarily stutter. This trait is the opposite of the Voice advantage (p. 97); you cannot have both.

Divine Curse 2 5


You suffer from a curse placed by a god or similar supernatural force. The curse might be on just you, on your entire family, or even on your nation or race.


Divine Curse can take any form the GM desires. It can be a continuing commandment (e.g., “You may never sleep at night,” -10 points), a misfortune (e.g., “Every child born to you will die young,” -5 points), or even a particularly nasty disadvantage such as Berserk, Blindness, or Epilepsy (at the usual cost). What makes it distinct from other disadvantages is the potential for removal. The curse was given for a reason, and you can try to uncover this reason and atone in play, thereby lifting the curse. The GM should judge the point value of Divine Curse on a case-bycase basis, using existing disadvantages as guidelines: the more encompassing or debilitating the curse, the higher its value. Curses that result in standard disadvantages should never be worth more points than those disadvantages. Price commandments as if they were Vows. The terms of atonement will often be nearly as bad as the curse itself, or require great effort to discover and satisfy. Halve the point value if this is not the case.

Draining 3 5


Once per day, at a specific time – sunrise, noon, sunset, midnight, etc. – you take 2 HP of damage. You can do nothing to prevent this, and cannot heal the damage naturally (even if you have Regeneration!), technologically, or supernaturally. The only way to regain your lost HP is to receive a daily dose of a particular substance. Point cost depends on the rarity of this substance: Rare (e.g., a special potion): -15 points. Occasional (e.g., virgin’s blood): -10 points. Common (e.g., human blood): -5 points. Add -5 points to these values for items that are illegal in your game world. This is not the same as Dependency (p. 130). You can have both!

Dread 2 5


You suffer from a supernatural aversion that compels you to keep a

certain, minimum distance from a particular item or substance. If outside forces bring you and the item you dread closer together than that, you must move away as fast as you can, by the most direct route possible. You may do nothing else until you are beyond the range of your Dread. If you cannot put at least that much distance between yourself and the object of your Dread, your Dread will render you helpless! You can instantly sense the presence of the dreaded substance as soon as you enter the forbidden radius. You do not know exactly where it is, but you know what direction it lies in and are compelled to go exactly the other way. Base value of Dread is -10 points, which prohibits you from coming within one yard of the dreaded substance. A larger radius gives an additional -1 point per yard, to a maximum of -20 points at 11 yards. Find the final disadvantage value by multiplying the point value for your range to reflect the rarity of the substance, as described for Weakness (p. 161).

Special Enhancements Cannot Be Trapped: You cannot enter the forbidden zone of your own volition, but if carried there by an outside force, you no longer feel your Dread. You can act normally in the forbidden zone until you leave the substance’s presence, at which time the prohibition reactivates. -50%.

Duty 4


If your occupation and social situation saddle you with a significant personal obligation toward others, and occasionally require you to obey hazardous orders, you have a “Duty.” Duty most often accompanies Rank (p. 29), a Patron (p. 72), or one of the traits discussed under Privilege (p. 30). A particularly arduous job might qualify as a Duty, but most ordinary jobs would not. A wholly self-imposed feeling of duty is not a Duty, either (but it can still be a disadvantage; see Sense of Duty, p. 153). Finally, you cannot claim points for a Duty toward Dependents (p. 131); the points you get for Dependents already reflect your obligations in this regard.



The GM may restrict the Duties allowed in a campaign, or even forbid them entirely, if he feels they would unduly disrupt the flow of the adventure. If you have a Duty, the GM rolls at the beginning of each adventure to see whether it comes into play. Being “called to duty” could delay your plans . . . or be the reason for the adventure! Alternatively, your master might give you a secret agenda to pursue, or his associates might harass you while you are officially “on leave.” If you try to avoid your Duty, your GM is within his rights to penalize you for bad roleplaying. The basic point cost of a Duty depends on the frequency with which comes up in play:


Almost all the time (roll of 15 or less): -15 points. At this level, the GM may rule that you are always on duty. Quite often (roll of 12 or less): -10 points. Fairly often (roll of 9 or less): -5 points. Quite rarely (roll of 6 or less): -2 points.


This cost is for an occasionally hazardous Duty imposed through normal social means. If this does not describe your Duty, you should modify the cost: Extremely Hazardous: You are always at risk of death or serious injury when your Duty comes up. There are significant penalties if you refuse to take these risks: dismissal in disgrace, imprisonment, perhaps even death. The GM has the final say as to whether a given Duty is “extremely hazardous” in his campaign. -5 points. Involuntary: Your Duty is enforced by threats to you or your loved ones, or is imposed by exotic mind control, a curse, etc. This is unrelated to how hazardous the Duty is when you carry it out – the danger here lies in what will happen if you don’t carry it out! A Duty can be Involuntary and either Extremely Hazardous or Nonhazardous. -5 points. Nonhazardous: Your Duty never requires you to risk your life. This option is mutually exclusive with Extremely Hazardous. +5 points. (If this raises the cost of your Duty to 0 points or more, the obligation is too trivial to qualify as a Duty.)


Example 1: A mayor is indebted to the crime lord who got him elected. His benefactor rarely calls on him for favors (-2 points), but since the mayor faces blackmail or violence if he refuses to comply, his Duty is Involuntary. Duty (Crime Lord, 6 or less; Involuntary) is worth -7 points. Example 2: A commando is always on duty (-15 points). He might see only a handful of combat assignments in his whole career, but these will be deadly. And his daily routine calls for him to jump out of planes, hike through snake-infested jungles, and train with live ammo. A commando has Duty (Army, 15 or less; Extremely Hazardous), for -20 points.

see p. 19

Dyslexia 2

-10 points

You have a crippling reading disability. Even simple maps and road signs are beyond you. You start with a written comprehension level of “None” in your native language. This is included in Dyslexia; you get no extra points for it. Furthermore, you may never improve your written comprehension level beyond “None” in any language. For more on language comprehension, see Language (p. 23). You can learn “book-learned” skills at normal speed if you have a teacher to substitute for your inability to use texts. Attempts to learn such a skill without a teacher progress at 1/4 speed – if the skill is one you can teach yourself without books. The GM’s word is final in all cases. In traditional fantasy settings, magic is a booklearned skill, and Dyslexia prevents you from ever becoming a wizard. Note that this is a severe case. Mild dyslexia is not significant in game terms, except possibly as a quirk.

Easy to Kill 3

-2 points/level

You have a health problem or structural weakness that leaves you prone to catastrophic system failure if you suffer enough damage. Each level of


Easy to Kill gives -1 to HT rolls made for survival at -HP or below, and on any HT roll where failure would mean instant death (e.g., heart failure). This does not affect most normal HT rolls – only those to avoid certain death. You may not reduce your HT roll below 3. For instance, if you have HT 10, you are limited to Easy to Kill 7.

Easy to Read 2

-10 points

Your body language betrays your true intentions. This is not the same as Truthfulness (p. 159). You have no moral problem with lying, and may even possess Fast-Talk at a high level, but your face or stance gives the game away. Easy to Read gives others +4 on all Empathy, Body Language, and Psychology rolls to discern your intentions or the truth of your words. As well, they get +4 to their IQ, Detect Lies, and Gambling rolls in any Quick Contest with your Acting, Fast-Talk, or Gambling skill when you try to lie or bluff. (If you also have Truthfulness, your Fast-Talk skill is at -5 on top of this.) This is a crippling disadvantage for a would-be spy, con man, or gambler! This is a mental disadvantage, despite its physical manifestations; with enough practice, you can “buy it off.”

Electrical 3 1

-20 points

Your body contains unshielded electronics, or relies on electrical power for its vital energy. This makes you susceptible to attacks that only affect electrical systems, such as spells, advantages, and ultra-tech weapons that drain power or produce “surge” effects, and the electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear blast. A critical hit from an electrical attack causes you to “short-circuit,” rendering you unconscious in addition to any other damage effects. This disadvantage usually accompanies the Machine meta-trait (p. 263), but this is not required. Afflictions and Innate Attacks that only affect those with this trait are possible. Apply the -20% Accessibility limitation “Only on Electrical” to all such attacks.

Enemies 4


An “Enemy” is an NPC, group of NPCs, or organization that actively works against you, personally, on your adventures. Some Enemies want to kill you . . . others have more devious goals. Determine the nature of your Enemy when you create your character, and explain to the GM why the Enemy is after you. The GM is free to fill in additional details as he sees fit. Three factors determine the disadvantage value of an Enemy: its power, its intent, and its frequency of appearance.

Power The more powerful the Enemy, the more points it is worth as a disadvantage. The GM sets this value. Note that when your Enemy is an organization, the point value is based on the number of individuals who are after you – not on the total size of the group! One person, less powerful than the PC (built on about 50% of the PC’s starting points). -5 points. One person, equal in power to the PC (built on about 100% of the PC’s starting points), or a small group of less-powerful people (3 to 5 people). Examples: A mad scientist, or the four brothers of the man you killed in a duel. -10 points. One person, more powerful than the PC (built on at least 150% of the PC’s starting points), or a mediumsized group of less-powerful people (6 to 20 people). Examples: a single superhuman or a city police department (which numbers in the hundreds, but they’re not all after you at once). -20 points. A large group of less-powerful people (21 to 1,000 people), or a mediumsized group that includes some formidable or superhuman individuals. Examples: the FBI or the Mafia. -30 points. An entire government, a whole guild of powerful wizards, an organization of supers, or some other utterly formidable group. -40 points.

Special Cases There are two special cases for which you should adjust the costs given above before multiplying for intent and frequency of appearance:

Evil Twin: Your Enemy looks and sounds like you, and perhaps even uses your name, but acts completely opposite. Often, others will think you suffer from Split Personality (p. 156), and react appropriately (-3 to reactions). You might never meet your Evil Twin, but you will hear about him – usually when you’re taking the blame for something you didn’t do. Normally, an Evil Twin has exactly the same skills and abilities as you, but his mental disadvantages are opposite or skewed. This makes him an even match: a -10-point Enemy. If he is more capable than you, he is worth extra points, because he is better equipped to make you look insane, and you are less able to predict and thwart his actions.

detectives out to arrest a suspected criminal. ¥1.

Frequency of Appearance Choose a frequency of appearance, as explained under Frequency of Appearance (p. 36). Roll at the beginning of each adventure, or at the start of each session of a continuing adventure.

Limits on Enemies You may not take more than two Enemies, or claim more than -60 points in Enemies. (If the whole U.S. government is out to get you, the fact that your old college professor has lost his mind, and is also after you, pales to insignificance.)

Enemies in Play

The more unpleasant the Enemy’s intentions, the more you multiply its worth in points.

If the dice indicate that an Enemy should show up, the GM must decide how and where the Enemy becomes involved. If an Enemy is very powerful, or if a number of different Enemies show up at the same time, this may influence the whole adventure. If you take an extremely powerful Enemy, you are likely to be jailed or killed before long. So it goes. You can get a 60-point bonus by taking Enemy (FBI, 12 or less; Hunter), but your every adventure will be that of a hunted criminal. Even with an extra 60 points, your career may be short. If you start with a weak Enemy, or play cleverly, you might manage to eliminate your foe or permanently change his attitude toward you. But as the saying goes, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” If you get rid of an Enemy, you have three choices:

Watcher: Your Enemy stalks you or spies on you. This is annoying, and makes it hard to keep secrets, but it is rarely more than a minor inconvenience. Examples: an aggressive journalist dogging a politician, detectives shadowing a suspected criminal. ¥1/4. Rival: Your Enemy wishes to upstage or inconvenience you, or plays cruel practical jokes on you (this is typical of most Evil Twins), but stops short of anything that would do lasting harm. Examples: a politician’s bitter political rival, detectives harassing a suspected criminal. ¥1/2. Hunter: The Enemy intends to arrest, bankrupt, injure, or otherwise harm you in some lasting way – or simply wants to kill you. Examples: an assassin gunning for a politician,

1. Pay enough character points to buy off the original bonus you got for that Enemy. 2. Take a disadvantage to make up for the point bonus. For instance, you might have been kicked in the head during the final battle, leaving you partially deaf. Or a giant spider might have attacked you, leaving you with arachnophobia. The new disadvantage should have the same point cost as your former Enemy (or less, if you want to buy off part of the disadvantage). If you cannot think of a good substitute disadvantage, the GM will be more than happy to supply one! 3. Take a new Enemy of equal value. You might have destroyed the fiendish Dr. Scorpion – but his brother is continuing his evil work.

Evil Twin is more skilled than you or possesses abilities that you do not (GM decides): -5 points. Evil Twin is more skilled than you and possesses abilities that you do not (GM decides): -10 points. Unknown: You know you have an Enemy, but you have no idea who it is. Tell the GM the power level of your Enemy. He will create the Enemy in secret and give you no details whatsoever! The advantage of surprise increases your Enemy’s effective power level, and hence its disadvantage value. -5 points.




Epilepsy 3

-30 points

You suffer from severe epilepsy. You are subject to seizures during which your limbs tremble uncontrollably and you cannot speak or think clearly. Make a HT roll whenever you are in a stressful situation (especially if your life or the life of a friend is threatened). If you have any sort of Phobia, exposure to the object of your fear counts as a stressful situation; roll vs. HT once every 10 minutes. On a failure, you suffer a seizure that lasts 1d minutes and costs you 1d FP. You can do nothing during that time. You may attempt to induce a seizure through autohypnosis. This requires one minute of concentration and a successful Will or Autohypnosis roll. Seizures near areas charged with supernatural energies might produce visions. Whether these are useful is up to the GM. Low-tech individuals who do not understand “fits” may be awed by them, and perhaps even believe your seizure represents a communication from the gods. Make a reaction roll at +1. A reaction of “Very Good” or better indicates religious awe! “Poor” or worse causes the observers to flee – not to attack (unless they had other provocation).

Extra Sleep 3

-2 points/level

You need more sleep than most people. A normal human requires 8 hours of sleep per night. Each level (maximum of four levels) means you need one additional hour of sleep. Thus, you must go to bed early or sleep in for a few hours each day. This gives you less time each day in which to study or work on other projects.

Fanaticism 2

-15 points

You believe so strongly in a country, organization, philosophy, or religion that you put it ahead of everything else. You might even be willing to die for it! If the object of your Fanaticism demands obedience to a code of behavior or loyalty to a leader, you oblige willingly and unquestioningly. You must roleplay your unwavering dedication.


Fanaticism does not make you mindless or evil. A glaring priest of Set, brandishing his bloody dagger, is a fanatic. But so is a kamikaze pilot, exchanging himself for an aircraft carrier. And so is a patriot who says, “Give me liberty or give me death!” Fanaticism is a state of mind; it is what you are fanatic about that makes the difference. Extreme Fanaticism: This is an advanced case of Fanaticism. You get +3 on Will rolls to resist Brainwashing, Interrogation, and supernatural mind control in any situation where failure to resist would lead to betrayal of your cult or organization. On the other hand, you will not hesitate to die for your cause, and will undertake suicide missions “matterof-factly.” This is still worth -15 points. Your willingness to die is offset by the significant bonus to Will (which will apply a good deal of the time, if you are roleplaying properly).

Fat see p. 19

Fearfulness 2

-2 points/level

You are nervous and timid. Subtract your Fearfulness from your Will whenever you make a Fright Check, and whenever you must resist the Intimidation skill (p. 202) or a supernatural power that causes fear. As well, add your Fearfulness level to all Intimidation rolls made against you. You may not reduce your Will roll below 3. For instance, if you have Will 11, you are limited to Fearfulness 8. This trait is the opposite of Fearlessness (p. 55); you cannot have both.

Flashbacks 2


You tend to experience “flashbacks” when under stress. These are vivid hallucinations, full-participation replays of memories, or similar phenomena. You should choose the type of flashback you experience when you take this disadvantage. The content of each episode is up to the GM. In any situation that the GM feels is stressful, he will roll 3d. On a 6 or


less, you have a flashback. The GM will roll whenever you miss a Fright Check or make the roll exactly, and whenever you fail a self-control roll for another stress-related disadvantage. The flashback occurs in addition to any other results! Point value depends on the severity of the flashback: Mild: Duration is 2d seconds. The attendant hallucinations give -2 on all skill rolls, but they are minor – you realize that you are experiencing a flashback. -5 points. Severe: Duration is 1d minutes. The hallucinations give -5 on all skill rolls, and seem real. -10 points. Crippling: Duration is 3d minutes. The hallucinations are so severe that they preclude all skill use. The flashback seems completely, 100% real, and can be potentially fatal, as you are receiving no input from the real world. -20 points.

Fragile 3 1


You are susceptible to wounding effects that do not apply to normal humans. Attacks do not injure you any more than usual (that’s Vulnerability, p. 161), but enough penetrating damage can trigger results more catastrophic than stunning, unconsciousness, or bleeding. Possibilities include: Brittle: You are brittle (like a creature of ice or crystal) or rotten (like a decaying undead monster). Whenever an injury cripples one of your limbs or extremities, it breaks off. If you can make a HT roll, it falls off in one piece; otherwise, it shatters or liquefies irrecoverably. Furthermore, should you fail any HT roll to avoid death, you are instantly destroyed – you shatter, melt, decay to goo, etc., and instantly go to -10¥HP. -15 points. Combustible: Your body burns more easily than flesh. Perhaps it is dry, resinous, or made of wood. Make a HT roll to avoid catching fire whenever you receive a major wound from a burning or explosive attack. You catch fire automatically if such an attack inflicts 10+ HP of injury. Once aflame, you suffer 1d-1 injury per second until you extinguish the fire by immersion in water, rolling on the ground (takes 3 seconds), etc. -5 points.

Explosive: Your body contains explosives, compressed gas, or something else unstable. On any critical failure on the HT roll for a major wound, you explode! You also explode if you fail any HT roll to avoid death by 3+. Treat this as a 6d¥(HP/10) crushing explosion. The blast instantly reduces you to -10¥HP, regardless of the damage it inflicts. -15 points. Flammable: Your body contains something highly flammable: gasoline, hydrogen gas, etc. Make a HT roll to avoid catching fire, with effects as per Combustible, after a major wound from any kind of attack. Roll at -3 for a burning or explosive attack, -3 if the attack struck the vitals, and -6 if both. Once you are burning, a critical failure on any HT roll to avoid death means you explode as described for Explosive. You may be Combustible as well. If so, any burning or explosive attack that inflicts either a major wound or 10+ HP of injury automatically sets you ablaze. -10 points. Unnatural: You are summoned, conjured, or a magical or weird-science “construct” (e.g., demon, golem, or undead). You automatically fail the HT roll to stay alive if reduced to -HP or below, as that much damage severs your ties with the force that animates you. -50 points. It sometimes makes sense to take more than one of the above (in particular, Explosive and Flammable often occur together). The GM must personally approve any combination of Fragile with Injury Tolerance (p. 60), as these traits are in many ways opposites.

Frightens Animals 2 5

-10 points

Animals react to you with fear and aggression. Horses do not permit you to ride them, dogs shy away from you or attack savagely, and your mere scent is enough to panic most creatures. You get -4 on all reaction rolls made by animals. Anyone who sees how animals react to you – and those with Animal Empathy – reacts to you at -1. Note that guards or police with guard animals, “sniffer” dogs, etc. decide how to deal with you based on the animal’s reaction roll, not their own!

If your disadvantage is due to lycanthropy, vampirism, or a similar trait, observers get +1 on all rolls to deduce your secret!

G-Intolerance 3

-10 or -20 points

You function well under a narrow range of gravities. For a normal human, the penalties for non-native gravity accrue in increments of 0.2G; see Different Gravity (p. 350). An increment of 0.1G is worth -10 points. An increment of 0.05G is worth -20 points. This disadvantage is only allowed in campaigns that feature regular space travel.

Gigantism see p. 20

Gluttony 2

-5 points*

You are overly fond of good food and drink. Given the chance, you must always burden yourself with extra provisions. You should never willingly miss a meal. Make a self-control roll when presented with a tempting morsel or good wine that, for some reason, you should resist. If you fail, you partake – regardless of the consequences.

Greed 2

-15 points*

You lust for wealth. Make a selfcontrol roll any time riches are offered – as payment for fair work, gains from adventure, spoils of crime, or just bait. If you fail, you do whatever it takes to get the payoff. The GM may modify this roll if the money involved is small relative to your own wealth. Small sums do not tempt you much if you are rich, but if you are poor, you get -5 or more on your self-control roll if a rich prize is in the offing. If you have Honesty (p. 138), your self-control roll is at +5 for a shady deal and +10 for outright crime. However, it is almost a foregone conclusion that you will eventually do something illegal.

Gregarious see Chummy, p. 126


Guilt Complex 2

-5 points

You feel personally responsible for those who play a significant role in your life. This includes adventuring companions, employers, subordinates, Allies, Dependents, and those toward whom you have a Duty or a Sense of Duty. If anything bad happens to someone like this, you will be wracked by anxiety and guilt – even if there was nothing you could have done to avert the disaster. If the mishap was not your fault, you will suffer the effects of Chronic Depression (p. 126) for (15 - Will) days, minimum one day. Use your Will as your effective self-control number. If the mishap was your fault, the effects of Chronic Depression will last (20 - Will) days, minimum two days, and your effective self-control number is Will-3. Others may attempt to help you overcome your feelings of guilt by making Fast-Talk or Psychology rolls. The GM is free to modify their rolls, depending on how convincing they sounded. Roleplay it!

Gullibility 2

-10 points*

There’s one born every minute, and you’re it. You believe everything you hear. You’ll swallow even the most ridiculous story, if it’s told with conviction. Make a self-control roll, modified by the plausibility of the story, whenever you are confronted with a lie – or an improbable truth, for that matter. If you fail, you believe what you were told! A lie well told, or involving something you have no familiarity with (“My father is the chief of police in this town, and he won’t stand for this!”) gives -6 to the self-control roll. A lie concerning a topic you are familiar with (“Didn’t you know they bred ducks in your village, Torg?”) gives -3. You believe even a totally outlandish tale (“Of course the Eskimos are descended from Spanish conquistadors; everyone knows that!”), if you fail an unmodified self-control roll. You also suffer a -3 penalty on any Merchant skill roll, or in any situation in which your credulity might be exploited. You can never learn the Detect Lies skill.


Ham-Fisted 3

-5 or -10 points

You have unusually poor motor skills. You suffer a penalty to any DXbased roll to do fine work using the skills listed under High Manual Dexterity (p. 59), and to Fast-Draw skill. For -5 points, the penalty is -3; for -10 points, it is -6. This does not affect IQ-based tasks or large-scale DX-based tasks, nor does it modify combat-related die rolls other than Fast-Draw. You are also a messy eater, can’t tie a necktie properly, and so on. At the GM’s option, you get -1 per level of this trait on any Influence or reaction roll where being tidy or well-groomed would matter. This disadvantage is mutually exclusive with High Manual Dexterity.

Hard of Hearing 3

-10 points

You are not deaf, but you have some hearing loss. You are at -4 on any Hearing roll, and on any skill roll where it is important that you understand someone (if you are the one talking, this disadvantage doesn’t affect you).

Hemophilia 3

-30 points

You are a “bleeder.” Even a small wound will not heal unless well-bandaged – and you may bleed to death. Any untreated wound bleeds at a rate equal to its original damage every minute. For instance, an untreated 3 HP wound bleeds for 3 HP of damage per minute until stanched. First Aid is enough to staunch most wounds, but an impaling wound to the torso causes slow internal bleeding. It does damage every minute, as above, until you receive First Aid. Furthermore, it continues to do damage equal to its original damage once per day until properly treated. Only a Surgery roll or supernatural healing can stop internal bleeding or restore HP lost to it. If proper treatment is not available, you will soon die. If you suffer from this disadvantage, your HT score may not exceed 10.

Hidebound 2

-5 points

You find it difficult to come up with an original thought. You have a -2 penalty on any task that requires creativity or invention, including most rolls against Artist skill, all Engineer rolls for new inventions, and all skill rolls made to use the Gadgeteer advantage.

Honesty 2

-10 points*

You must obey the law, and do your best to get others to do so as well.



In an area with little or no law, you do not “go wild” – you act as though the laws of your own home were in force. You also assume that others are honest unless you know otherwise (make an IQ roll to realize someone might be dishonest if you haven’t seen proof). This is a disadvantage, because it often limits your options! Make a selfcontrol roll when faced with the “need” to break unreasonable laws; if you fail, you must obey the law, whatever the consequences. If you manage to resist your urges and break the law, make a second self-control roll

afterward. If you fail, you must turn yourself in to the authorities! You may fight (or even start a fight, if you do it in a legal way). You may even kill in a legal duel or in selfdefense – but you may never murder. You may steal if there is great need, but only as a last resort, and you must attempt to pay your victims back later. If you are jailed for a crime you did not commit, but treated fairly and assured of a trial, you will not try to escape. You always keep your word. (In a war, you may act “dishonestly” against the enemy, but you will not be happy about it!) However, you are allowed to lie if it does not involve breaking the law. Truthfulness (p. 159) is a separate disadvantage. Honesty has its rewards, of course. If you stay alive and in one place long enough for your honesty to become known, the GM should give you +1 on any noncombat reaction roll – or +3 if a question of trust or honor is involved. This is essentially a free Reputation (see Reputation, p. 26).

Horizontal 3 1

-10 points

You have a horizontal posture, like a cat. You can stand on your hind legs for short periods, but find this very uncomfortable. You can use one hand (if you have hands) while standing on your other limbs, or two hands while sitting on your haunches; in both cases, your ground Move is 0 while doing so. You can carry but not use an object in one hand if moving at half Move. If you are human-sized, you take up two hexes on a battle map. A horizontal build does not let you put your full weight behind a kick. As a result, your thrusting damage is at -1 per die when you kick. Ignore this penalty if you have Claws (p. 42) – that trait includes the necessary adaptations to strike at full power. The penalty does apply if you have Hooves, however. Do not take this disadvantage if you are Aerial or Aquatic (see No Legs, p. 145). If you are fully adapted to a three-dimensional environment, body posture is irrelevant.

Hunchback 3

-10 points

You have a spinal deformity that forces you into a twisted or hunched

position, usually resulting in a noticeable hump or lump on one or both shoulders. This reduces height by 6” without changing weight or build. Normal clothing and armor will fit badly, giving you -1 to DX; to avoid this, you must pay an extra 10% for specially made gear. Most people find you disturbing to see and react at -1. This penalty is cumulative with regular appearance modifiers (see Physical Appearance, p. 21), and you may have no better than Average appearance. Your appearance is also distinctive, which gives you -3 to Disguise or Shadowing skill, and +3 to others’ attempts to identify or follow you. Realistic hunchbacks should have the Bad Back disadvantage (p. 123) as well, but this is not required.

Impulsiveness 2

-10 points*

You hate talk and debate. You prefer action! When you are alone, you act first and think later. In a group, when your friends want to stop and discuss something, you should put in your two cents’ worth quickly – if at all – and then do something. Roleplay it! Make a self-control roll whenever it would be wise to wait and ponder. If you fail, you must act.

Increased Consumption 3

-10 points/level

One “meal” keeps you going for a much shorter period of time than it would a normal human. This is suitable for small creatures that must eat often, or for machines that rapidly exhaust their fuel or energy supply. Increased Consumption 1: You must eat six meals a day. If you have the Machine meta-trait (p. 263), you have a 4-hour endurance. Increased Consumption 2: You must eat 12 meals a day. If you have the Machine meta-trait, you have a 2hour endurance. Increased Consumption 3: You must eat 24 meals a day. If you have the Machine meta-trait, you have a 1hour endurance. . . . and so on, doubling consumption and halving endurance for each additional level. A single level of this


trait is appropriate for normal humans who have a build of Overweight or heavier (see Build, p. 19), or the Gluttony disadvantage (p. 137).

Increased Life Support 31


Your environmental requirements in a life-support situation are greater than those of a normal human. Some examples: Extreme Heat/Cold: You require a temperature above 200° or below 0°. -10 points. Massive: You require more than a ton of additional weight in order to survive aboard a spacecraft or a submarine, or in any other setting where resources and space are limited. If you can wear an environment suit, this always weighs at least a ton. -10 points. Pressurized: You require a separate pressurized compartment to survive. -10 points. Radioactive: You are radioactive or require a radioactive environment. -10 points. The GM may allow other kinds of Increased Life Support. These should worth no more than -10 points apiece unless they are extremely exotic. Add together the value of multiple special requirements, but note that the total disadvantage value cannot exceed -40 points. Increased Life Support represents the logistical inconvenience of special life-support requirements, while Dependency (p. 130), Maintenance (p. 143), and Restricted Diet (p. 151) all reflect the health effects of doing without such requirements. The same requirement can qualify in both categories if it has consequences for both health and logistics. But note that a Dependency you can satisfy with a one-ounce inhaler of a drug does not let you claim Increased Life Support for a pressurized cabin full of the stuff! The GM’s word is final. With the GM’s permission, normal humans may take this disadvantage to represent the special requirements of certain chronic illnesses.


Incurious 2

-5 points*

You hardly ever notice things unrelated to the business at hand. Make a self-control roll when confronted with something strange. If you fail, you ignore it! You react at -1 to new things.

Indecisive 2

-10 points*

You find it difficult to make up your mind. As long as there is a single path before you, you are fine, but as soon as there is a choice, you begin to dither. Make a self-control roll whenever a choice confronts you, modified downward by the number of alternatives you can see: -2 if there are two choices, -3 if there are three, etc. If you fail, you do nothing. Roll again every minute (or every second in combat or a similar high-stress situation) until you make up your mind, after which you may act normally until the next time you face a decision. If you are Indecisive and Confused (p. 129), you must roll as described above to decide on a course of action. When you finally succeed, you must make another self-control roll – this one for Confused – to see whether you can act on your decision immediately.

Infectious Attack 3 5

-5 points

You have an infectious supernatural condition. This works identically to the Dominance advantage (p. 50), except that you do not control those you infect and cannot add them as Allies. This is a disadvantage, because enemies who survive (or don’t survive!) violent encounters with you become stronger through the “gift” of supernatural powers, and are completely free to use their new abilities to seek vengeance for what you have done to them. To prevent PCs with this trait from turning their friends into powerful monsters for free, the GM should consider making infected PCs pay points for supernatural racial templates gained this way. If they cannot afford such a template, the GM is free to balance its point cost with supernatural drawbacks such as Cursed, Dread, Revulsion, and Weakness.

Innumerate 2

-5 points

You have little or no grasp of mathematics. You cannot learn – and get no default with – Computer Programming, Economics, or any of the skills that benefit from Mathematical Ability (see Talent, p. 89). You effectively have Incompetence (p. 164) in those areas. This has many frustrating side effects: you must use your fingers to count or perform arithmetic, you have no idea if the results computed by calculating machines are correct (making them basically useless), and you are easily cheated by dishonest merchants (-4 to rolls to notice you’ve been had). In “innumerate” cultures, including many cultures at TL4 or below, this disadvantage is widespread, and the GM should not count it against the campaign disadvantage limit (if any). In societies that prize technological or mercantile ability, Innumerate individuals are liable to have a Social Stigma as well. This is worth an additional -5 points and gives -1 to reaction rolls.

Insomniac 3

-10 or -15 points

You go through periods where falling asleep is very difficult. During such an episode, you must make a HT1 roll once per night. On a success, you fall asleep easily, ending that episode of insomnia. On a failure, you lose two hours of sleep that night (and suffer all the usual effects; see Missed Sleep, p. 426) and the episode continues for another night. On a critical failure, you get no sleep that night. Point value depends on severity: Mild: The GM secretly rolls 3d for the number of days between episodes. -10 points. Severe: The GM rolls 2d-1 for the number of days between episodes. -15 points.

Invertebrate 3 1

-20 points

You have no spine, exoskeleton, or other natural body support. Use your full Basic Lift for the purpose of pushing, but only 1/4 your BL to calculate the weight you can lift, carry, or pull. This trait has a small side benefit, however: you can squeeze through much smaller openings than your size might suggest! Note that this trait differs somewhat from the biological term “invertebrate.”

Jealousy 2

-10 points

Regardless of severity, whenever you suffer prolonged stress, the GM can require a HT roll. Failure means an episode starts immediately.

You react poorly toward those who seem smarter, more attractive, or better off than you! You resist any plan proposed by a “rival,” and hate it if someone else is in the limelight. (Jealousy goes well with Megalomania.) If an NPC is jealous, the GM will apply a -2 to -4 reaction penalty toward the victim(s) of his jealousy.

Intolerance 2

Killjoy 3 Variable

You dislike and distrust some (or all) people who are different from you.


You may be prejudiced on the basis of class, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sex, or species. Victims of your Intolerance will react to you at -1 to -5 (GM’s decision). Point value depends on the scope of your Intolerance. If you are thoroughly intolerant, you react at -3 toward anyone not of your own class, ethnicity, nationality, religion, or species (pick one). On a “Good” reaction, you tolerate the person and are as civil as possible (but are stiff and cold toward him). On a “Neutral” reaction, you still tolerate him, but make it plain in words and deeds that you don’t care to be around him and consider him inferior or offensive. On any worse reaction, you attack or refuse to associate with the victim. Total Intolerance of this kind is worth -10 points. Intolerance directed at only one specific class, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sex, or species is worth from -5 points for a commonly encountered victim to -1 point (a nasty quirk) for a rare victim.


-15 points

Your brain’s pleasure center is burned out or absent. You cannot

appreciate the taste of good food, the joy of sex, the savage beauty of combat, and so on. You might not even remember what these pleasures were like! You can “go through the motions,” but you have -3 on all Carousing, Connoisseur, Erotic Art, and Gambling rolls. Others react to you at -1 to -3 in any situation where your lack of appreciation becomes obvious (GM’s decision). A bad reaction indicates ridicule from cultured folk, rejection by a lover, etc. – not violence. Some ultra-tech societies might use surgery to inflict this state as a form of punishment! If so, you won’t plot your revenge . . . because there won’t be any pleasure in it.

Kleptomania 2

Lame 3

-10 to -30 points

This disadvantage assumes that you are a member of a race with legs. If your entire race is legless, see No Legs (p. 145).

use of your legs. Using crutches or a peg leg, you can stand up and walk slowly. You must reduce Basic Move to 2, but you get full points for this. You can still kick, but between the standard -2 for a kick and the -6 for this disadvantage, you do so at DX-8!

-15 points*

You are compelled to steal – not necessarily things of value, but anything you can get away with. Make a self-control roll whenever you are presented with a chance to steal, at up to -3 if the item is especially interesting to you (not necessarily valuable, unless you are poor or have Greed). If fail, you must try to steal it. You may keep or sell stolen items, but you may not return or discard them.

Klutz 3

-5 or -15 points

You have an uncanny affinity for gross physical blunders. You do not necessarily have a low DX (you may have up to DX 13 and still select this trait) but you are more awkward than your DX would suggest. This disadvantage comes in two levels: Klutz: Make a DX roll to get through the day without doing a pratfall, dropping books, or knocking over shelves filled with fragile items. This is rarely life-threatening, but it is inconvenient and often expensive. The GM should be creative in inventing minor torments. You should especially avoid laboratories, explosives, china shops, etc. -5 points. Total Klutz: As above, but in addition, any failure on a DX roll or DXbased skill roll is considered a critical failure for you! -15 points. This trait might seem silly, but it need not be. Most realistic TL7-8 robots have this disadvantage!

You have some degree of impaired mobility: Crippled Legs: You have all of your legs, but some of them are damaged. For a human, this means one bad leg. You are at -3 to use any skill that requires the use of your legs, including all Melee Weapon and unarmed combat skills (but not ranged combat skills). You must reduce your Basic Move to half your Basic Speed (round down), but you get full points for this (see Basic Move, p. 17). -10 points. Missing Legs: You have lost some, but not all, of your legs. For a human, this means you have one leg. You are at -6 to use any skill that requires the


Without your crutches or peg leg, you cannot stand, walk, or kick. -20 points. Legless: You are missing all of your legs, no matter how many you started out with. You are at -6 to use any skill that requires the use of your legs, and you cannot stand, kick, or walk at all. You must reduce Basic Move to 0, but you get full points for this. -30 points. Paraplegic: You have all of your legs, but they are paralyzed. The effects and point value are identical to Legless. Unlike a Legless character, you can be struck in the legs for damage. This is balanced by the fact that it isn’t inconceivable that you could regain the use of your legs (a Legless character is out of luck). -30 points.


Technological Assistance A muscle-powered wheelchair or wheeled platform has ground Move equal to 1/4 your ST (round down), but cannot pass through narrow doorways, negotiate staircases or steep curbs, enter most vehicles, etc. If you have advanced prosthetics that cancel this disadvantage while worn, apply a Mitigator limitation (p. 112) to Lame and any reduced Basic Move. If surgery or ultra-tech replacement parts eliminate this disadvantage completely, you must pay back the points you received for Lame and reduced Basic Move.

Laziness 2

-10 points

You are violently averse to labor. Your chances of getting a raise or promotion in any job are halved. If you are self-employed, halve your monthly pay (see Jobs, p. 516). You must avoid work – especially hard work – at all costs. Roleplay it!

Lecherousness 2

-15 points*

You have an unusually strong desire for romance. Make a self-control roll whenever you have more than the briefest contact with an appealing member of the sex you find attractive – at -5 if this person is Handsome/Beautiful, or at -10 if Very Handsome/Very Beautiful. If you fail, you must make a “pass,” using whatever wiles and skills you can bring to bear. You must then suffer the consequences of your actions, successful or not: physical retribution, jail, communicable disease, or (possibly) an adoring new friend. Unless the object of your affection is Very Handsome/Very Beautiful, you need not roll more than once a day to avoid making a pass. If someone turns you down very firmly (e.g., a black eye, or an arrest for sexual harassment) the GM may give you a bonus to future self-control rolls regarding that individual . . . Note that you are likely to change your standards of attractiveness if no truly attractive members of the appropriate sex are available!

Lifebane 2 5

-10 points

You have a supernatural aura of death about you. Grass dies in your footprints and will never grow there again, larger plants wilt instantly in your presence, and insects and other tiny creatures die if they get within a yard of you. Your aura has no effect on animals that weigh more than a few ounces, on very large plants such as trees (but the leaves closest to you might die, and a tree you pass daily for years will eventually be affected), on ordinary life forms controlled by supernatural means (e.g., insect swarms conjured up using magic), or on supernatural entities of any kind. Lifebane gives -2 on reaction rolls made by anyone in a position to notice it. If it stems from demonic powers, vampirism, etc., observers get +2 on all rolls to deduce your secret! This trait makes it difficult to use stealthor invisibility-related abilities outdoors, too: +2 on rolls to locate you in most outdoor environments. It has its side benefits, however. For instance, you need never buy insect repellent!

Light Sleeper 3

-5 points

You do not sleep as soundly or as easily as most people. Whenever you must sleep in an uncomfortable place, or whenever there is more than the slightest noise, you must make a HT roll in order to fall asleep. On a failure, you can try again after one hour, but you will suffer all the usual effects of one hour of missed sleep (see Missed Sleep, p. 426). You usually wake up if there is activity going on around you (but you are stunned unless you have Combat Reflexes). If you wish to continue sleeping, you must fail a Sense roll. If you wake up, you must make HT rolls to get back to asleep, as above. This can occasionally be to your advantage, but the most likely effect is that you miss sleep whenever inconsiderate companions trade watches or return from a night on the town.

Loner 2

-5 points*

You require a great deal of “personal space.” Make a self-control roll whenever anyone lingers nearby, watches



over your shoulder, etc. If you fail, you lash out at that person just as if you had Bad Temper (p. 124). Loner NPCs always react to others at a penalty. Self-Control Number 6 9 12 15

Low Empathy 2

Reaction Penalty -4 -3 -2 -1

-20 points

You cannot understand emotions at all. This doesn’t prevent you from having and showing emotions of your own (unless you have something like No Sense of Humor) – your problem is that you don’t really understand them. As a result, you have difficulty interacting socially. You may not take the Empathy advantage, and suffer a -3 penalty on all skills that rely in whole or in part on understanding someone’s emotional motivation, including Acting, Carousing, Criminology, Detect Lies, Diplomacy, Enthrallment, Fast-Talk, Interrogation, Leadership, Merchant, Politics, Psychology, Savoir-Faire, Sex Appeal, Sociology, and Streetwise. You can still have these skills – you just aren’t as good at them as someone without this disadvantage. Low Empathy is common in androids, demons, golems, the undead, and some aliens. It is also appropriate for certain humans! This trait is mutually exclusive with the somewhat similar disadvantages Callous (p. 125) and Oblivious (p. 146), both of which assume some understanding of emotions, however flawed.

Low Pain Threshold 3

-10 points

You are very sensitive to pain of all kinds. Double the shock from any injury; e.g., if you take 2 HP of damage, you are at -4 to DX on your next turn. You roll at -4 to resist knockdown, stunning, and physical torture. Whenever you take a wound that does more than 1 HP of damage, you must make a Will roll to avoid crying out. This can give away your presence, and may earn you a -1 reaction from “macho” individuals.

Low Self-Image 2

-10 points

You lack self-confidence and underrate your abilities to such a degree that it interferes with your performance. You are at -3 to all skill rolls whenever you believe that the odds are against you or others expect you to fail (GM’s judgment). For instance, if you’re a mechanic, you have no penalty to repair an engine in your shop . . . but you are at -3 to make the same repairs on the road, in the rain, with only a portable tool kit, and an enemy hot on your trail – on top of the usual modifiers that would apply in that situation!

Low TL see p. 22

Lunacy 2

-10 points

The moon has a dramatic and inconvenient effect on your personality. During the full moon, you are extremely emotional and volatile (-2 to all Will and self-control rolls), while on nights of the new moon, you are very passive (you temporarily suffer from the Laziness disadvantage, p. 142). While the moon is waxing, you are focused and pleasant; while it is waning, you are apathetic and a little touchy. Roleplay it!

Magic Susceptibility 2 5

-3 points/level

Magic is more likely to affect you. Add your Magic Susceptibility to the skill of anyone casting a spell on you, and subtract it from your roll to resist any spell that you can resist. For instance, if you have Magic Susceptibility 4, wizards have +4 to cast spells on you and you get -4 to resist. Magic Susceptibility only makes you more vulnerable to spells cast directly on you. It does not affect Missile spells, attacks by magic weapons, or information-gathering spells that aren’t cast directly on you. It also has no effect on supernatural powers other than magic; e.g., divine miracles, psionics, or the innate powers of spirits. Magic Susceptibility works normally against Area spells; do not double its effects as you would those of Magic Resistance (p. 67).

Magic Susceptibility, and its precise level, can be recognized by any mage who looks at your aura or by anyone who casts a spell on you. You may have no more than five levels of Magic Susceptibility. You can combine Magic Susceptibility with Magery but not with Magic Resistance.

Maintenance 3


You require skilled attention at regular intervals to avoid HT loss. Examples include a robot that needs a mechanic, a chronically ill person who needs a doctor’s attention, or a god that requires devout prayer. Decide on the care you require and the skill needed to provide it. Possibilities include electronic maintenance (use Electronics Repair), mechanical maintenance (use Mechanic), medical care (use Physician), and physical repairs (use Carpentry, Electrician, etc.). You may specify an advantage or disadvantage instead; e.g., a god might require worshippers with Disciplines of Faith. You can split Maintenance between multiple skills; for instance, a robot might require Electronics Repair and Mechanic. Those who maintain you must have access to the appropriate facilities: a mechanic needs tools, worshippers must pray at a temple, etc. No resources are consumed, however; for that, take Dependency (p. 130). Each installment of maintenance takes one hour. The base point value depends on the number of people needed to perform it: Number of People 1 2 3-5 6-10 11-20 21-50 51-100

Point Value -10 -20 -30 -40 -50 -60 -70

Add another -10 points per full doubling of the number of people required; e.g., a god that requires 10,000 worshippers would have a base -130-point disadvantage. Extra manhours of maintenance may substitute for extra people, if the GM approves.


The frequency with which you require maintenance modifies this base cost. Maintenance Interval Multiplier Monthly 1/5 Bi-weekly 1/3 Weekly 1/2 Every other day 3/4 Daily 1 Twice daily 2 Three to five times daily 3 Constant 5 If you miss a maintenance period, your HT attribute drops by 1 and you must make a HT roll. Failure results in some additional incapacity of the GM’s choosing. Critical failure means a potentially fatal outcome; e.g., a human might suffer a heart attack, or a vehicle’s brakes might fail while it is moving. To restore lost HT and capabilities requires suitable intervention and skill rolls (repairs if you’re a machine, surgery if you’re a living being, etc.). If you require an unusual form of maintenance, this might call for exotic measures!

Manic-Depressive 2

-20 points

Your moods are on a seesaw. You bounce back and forth between bubbling enthusiasm and morose withdrawal. At the beginning of each play session, roll 1d. On 1-3, you are in your manic phase; 4-6 indicates depression. Every five hours of game time thereafter, roll 3d. A 10 or less indicates that you begin a mood swing. Over the next hour, you shift from your current phase to the opposite one. You remain in the new phase for at least five hours, after which you must again roll 3d. In the manic phase, you suffer the effects of Overconfidence (p. 148) and Workaholic (p. 162). You are friendly, outgoing, and excited about whatever it is you’re doing. In the depressive phase, you suffer the effects of Chronic Depression (p. 126). You are not interested in doing anything but lying in bed, sitting in a dark room and moping, etc. Your effective selfcontrol number for these effects is equal to your Will.


Emergencies can also cause mood swings; in that case, the switch is immediate. On a roll of 10 or less on 3d, you change phases. This can be good (an emergency jars you into action) or bad (a problem triggers depression and you become worthless).

Megalomania 2

-10 points

You believe you are a superman, that you have been chosen for some great task, or that you are destined to conquer. You must choose a grand goal – most often conquest or the completion of some fantastic task. You must let nothing stand between you and this goal. You may attract followers with Fanaticism, but nobody else enjoys hearing you talk about your brilliance and great plans. Young or naive characters, and fanatics looking for a new cause, react to you at +2; others will react at -2. This is a better disadvantage for NPCs than it is for PCs.

Miserliness 2

-10 points*

You are preoccupied with conserving your wealth. You must always hunt for the best deal possible. Make a self-control roll any time you are called on to spend money. If the expenditure is large, this roll may be at -5 or worse (GM’s decision). If you fail, you refuse to spend the money. If you absolutely must spend the money, you should haggle and complain interminably. Note that you may have both Greed (p. 137) and Miserliness!

Missing Digit 3

-2 or -5 points

You are missing a finger or thumb. Missing Finger: Gives -1 DX with that hand (only). -2 points. Missing Thumb: Gives -5 DX with that hand (only). -5 points.

Mistaken Identity see p. 21

Motion Sickness 3

-10 points

You are miserable whenever you are in a moving vehicle, be it an


automobile, train, airplane, balloon, ship, or spacecraft. You may never learn any vehicle-operation skill. You must roll vs. HT as soon as you are aboard a moving vehicle. On a failure, you vomit and are at -5 on all DX, IQ, and skill rolls for the rest of the journey. On a success, you are merely miserably queasy and at -2 on DX, IQ, and skill rolls. Roll daily on long journeys.

Mundane Background 2

-10 points

You have a complete lack of experience with the supernatural and the weird. When you first enter play, you can only have mundane skills and equipment. Magic spells, cinematic skills, etc. are off-limits. So are Hidden Lore and Occultism! You can have supernatural advantages, but you can neither use them nor learn any skills that would allow you to use them. In fact, you have no idea that you possess such talents, save perhaps for the odd dream now and then. You must buy off this disadvantage if you wish to use supernatural advantages actively or learn any skill related to the supernatural or the weird. Mundane Background is only available in settings with supernatural or weird elements! It is not a valid disadvantage in perfectly mundane game worlds.

Mute see Cannot Speak, p. 125

Neurological Disorder 3


You suffer from one of several neurological disorders that cause tremors, involuntary movements, facial contortions, etc. Point value depends on severity: Mild: Your condition is obvious to anyone who observes you for more than a few seconds. You are at -2 to tasks that involve fine manipulation (see High Manual Dexterity, p. 59), and such tasks take twice the normal time. You also have -2 to social skills such as Acting, Leadership, Performance, Public Speaking, and Sex Appeal in any situation where your condition


would be apparent (GM’s decision). -15 points. Severe: You find it difficult to function in normal society. You are at -4 to tasks that involve fine manipulation, and such tasks take four times as long. Your DX and Basic Move cannot exceed your racial average (DX 10 and Move 5 for a human), and might be lower. You get -4 to social skills whenever your condition becomes apparent. -35 points. Crippling: You find it almost impossible to function in normal society. You are at -6 to tasks that involve fine manipulation, and such tasks take six times as long. Your DX and Basic Move cannot exceed 80% of your racial average (DX 8 and Move 4 for a human), and might be considerably lower. You get -6 to social skills most of the time. -55 points. Many other symptoms are possible, including gross motor impairment (buy down DX or Move), involuntary vocalizations (treat as Noisy, p. 146), and facial contortions (reduce appearance level; see Physical Appearance, p. 21). Violent tics and profane involuntary vocalizations might qualify as Odious Personal Habits (p. 22).

Night Blindness 3

-10 points

You have poor night vision. If the vision or combat penalty for poor lighting is between -1 and -4 for most people, your penalty is the worse of double the usual penalty or -3. If the usual penalty is -5 or worse, you function as though you were completely blind (see Blindness, p. 124). If you have Acute Vision (p. 35), it only applies in situations with no darkness penalty. This trait is mutually exclusive with both Night Vision (p. 71) and Dark Vision (p. 47).

Nightmares 2

-5 points*

You are tormented each night by horrible nightmares. Sometimes they’re so harrowing that they affect your efficiency during waking hours. Make a self-control roll each morning upon awakening. If you fail, you suffered nightmares; this costs you 1 FP that you can only recover through sleep. On a roll of 17 or 18, you are left

shaking, and are at -1 to all skill and Perception rolls for the entire day. These nightmares can be so vivid that they’re indistinguishable from reality. The GM might choose to play them out in the game, starting out like a normal scenario and steadily becoming more horrible. The victim should only gradually come to suspect that he is dreaming. Such dreams can have a dramatic effect on the dreamer’s waking life, such as temporary Obsessions or Phobias, or even a psychosomatic loss of HP or attribute levels. If other PCs are involved in the nightmare, they’re completely unaffected by anything that occurs there (but if the nightmare takes a long time to play out, the GM might wish to reward the players with a bonus character point as a token of appreciation for their time – maybe two points if they roleplayed the dream-situation particularly well). It’s the GM’s option whether to let the other players know in advance that the scenario is a dream. Either way can lead to unique and fascinating roleplaying.

No Depth Perception 3

-15 points

You have two eyes, but you lack effective binocular vision and cannot visually judge distances. This might be due to a vision disorder or a quirk of your racial neurology. The game effects are identical to One Eye (p. 147); you may not take both disadvantages.

No Fine Manipulators 31

-30 or -50 points

Your body lacks hands and possibly limbs. Point value depends on the extent of your limitation: No Fine Manipulators: You have no body part more agile than paws or hooves. You cannot use your limbs to make repairs, pick locks, tie knots, wield weapons, etc., or even to grasp firmly. You may only select this trait if you have nothing approaching the human hand in terms of overall versatility. If you have a beak, tongue, prehensile tail, etc. that is as good as a hand, you do not have No Fine Manipulators! -30 points.

No Manipulators: You have no limbs. The only way for you to manipulate objects is to push them around with your body or head. You can still move, and are capable of rolling, wriggling, bouncing, etc. at

Bounces, Rolls, or Slithers: You move on land without using legs, like a snake or a wheel-form robot. Work out Basic Move and use it as your ground Move, just as a legged character would. 0 points.

These nightmares can be so vivid that they’re indistinguishable from reality. The GM might choose to play them out in the game, starting out like a normal scenario and steadily becoming more horrible. your Basic Move unless you buy it down to 0. -50 points. Note that this trait is limited to nonhumans and supers. Either level qualifies you to buy ST and DX with the -40% No Fine Manipulators limitation.

No Legs 3 1


This disadvantage assumes that your race lacks legs. If your race has legs, but you are missing yours, see Lame (p. 141). You are a member of a legless race. There are several different forms of this trait, but in all cases, you cannot kick, cannot be struck in the legs in combat, and need not wear leg armor. The point costs below assume that the benefit of having no legs for foes to target in combat balances the drawback of being unable to kick. Aerial: You cannot move on land, but you can hover, glide, or fly. You must purchase the Flight advantage (p. 56). Calculate Basic Speed as usual and use twice this value to determine your basic air Move, as described for Flight. Your ground Move is 0. 0 points. Aquatic: You cannot move on land, but you are adapted to movement on or in water, like a ship or a fish. Calculate Basic Move and use this as your basic water Move. Your ground Move is 0. You suffer no skill penalties for working in or under water. 0 points. If your mobility depends on fins, masts, paddles, or sails that you can’t armor, or you can’t dive: -5 points. If both: -10 points.


Semi-Aquatic: You “walk” on flippers, like a seal. Use Basic Move as your basic water Move and 1/5 this as your ground Move – that is, reverse the normal relationship between ground and water Move. You suffer standard skill penalties in the water. 0 points. Sessile: Your base is anchored where you sit, like a tree or a building. You can’t move under your own power in any environment, and lack the option of using a moving platform (although you can be moved, with considerable effort). Your Basic Move is automatically 0, and you get no extra points for this. You can still have manipulators. If so, you wield weapons at no DX penalty, because unlike those with the Lame disadvantage, you have a very stable base! -50 points. Tracked or Wheeled: You have tracks or wheels instead of legs. Specify how many – one to four, or any higher even number. If using hit locations, treat each track or wheel as if it were a leg. You can neither jump nor negotiate obstacles that require arms and legs working together (e.g., a ladder or rope). You always leave a visible trail (giving others a Tracking bonus: +1 for Wheeled, +2 for Tracked). Tracks are also noisy (+2 to all Hearing rolls to detect you), but let you handle rough terrain more easily. Tracked and Wheeled do not reduce Move; in fact, you may buy up to three levels of Enhanced Move (Ground). This disadvantage usually accompanies the Machine meta-trait (p. 263). -20 points.


No Manipulators see No Fine Manipulators, p. 145

No Sense of Humor 2

-10 points

You never get any jokes; you think everyone is earnestly serious at all times. Likewise, you never joke, and you are earnestly serious at all times. Others react at -2 to you in any situation where this disadvantage becomes evident.

No Sense of Smell/Taste 3

-5 points

This affliction – known as anosmia – prevents you from smelling or tasting anything. Thus, you are unable to detect certain hazards that ordinary people spot quickly. However, the disability has its advantages . . . you need never worry about skunks, and can always eat what is set before you.

Nocturnal 3 1

-20 points

You can only be active when the sun is below the horizon. This represents more than a preference for night over day! As soon as dawn starts to break, you become lethargic – and when the sun clears the horizon, you fall paralyzed and comatose until the sun goes down again. Note that this is not the same as the biological term “nocturnal.”

Special Enhancements Permanent Paralysis: You turn to stone or suffer some other permanent incapacitation if struck by the sun’s rays. Only one specific power or item – most often a powerful magic spell – can reverse this effect. Details are up to the GM. +100%.

Noisy 3

-2 points/level

You make a lot of noise! Perhaps you’re a ghost with clanking chains, a cyborg with a rasping ventilator, or a machine with a loud engine . . . or perhaps you’re absurdly inept at stealth. You make noise constantly – even when standing still – unless you are comatose (for animate beings) or powered down (for machines). Each


level gives +2 to Sense rolls to hear you or -2 to your Stealth rolls, as the situation warrants. In some circ*mstances (e.g., at the opera), each level might also give -1 to reactions! You may not take more than five levels of Noisy without the GM’s permission.

Non-Iconographic 2

-10 points

You are incapable of processing abstract images and symbols. Graphical computer interfaces, maps, heraldic devices, and magical runes are completely meaningless to you. Like Dyslexia (p. 134), this is a structural shortcoming of your brain; you cannot normally buy it off. You cannot learn Cartography, Heraldry, Symbol Drawing, or any similar skill used mainly to design or arrange patterns and symbols. You also cannot use graphical computer interfaces; you are limited to text interfaces and immersive virtual realities. Finally, since you cannot grasp magical symbols, you cannot learn magic save through oral tradition. Note that you can process text without difficulty, and may learn written languages normally (see Language, p. 23).

Numb 3

-20 points

You have no sense of touch. You have a limited degree of pressure sense – enough to feel your weight and stand up and walk without falling over – but you cannot distinguish textures by touch at all. Feats that depend on touch alone (e.g., touch-typing, or untying your hands behind your back) are impossible for you. When performing a task that requires hand-eye coordination, you suffer all the effects of one level of Ham-Fisted (p. 138) unless you take twice as long to perform the action and can clearly see what you’re doing. If you also have Ham-Fisted, add its effects. You experience pain, temperature, and shock as acutely as anyone else, unless you also have High Pain Threshold (p. 59), but you won’t know where you were injured without looking. Instead, you feel pain as generalized shock throughout your entire body. As a result, you cannot perform


First Aid on yourself if you can’t see the injury.

Oblivious 2

-5 points

You understand others’ emotions but not their motivations. This makes you awkward in situations involving social manipulation. You are the classic “nerd”! You have -1 to use or resist Influence skills (see Influence Rolls, p. 359): Diplomacy, Fast-Talk, Intimidation, Savoir-Faire, Sex Appeal, and Streetwise.

Obsession 2

-5 or -10 points*

Your entire life revolves around a single goal. Unlike Compulsive Behavior (p. 128), this is not a daily habit, but an overpowering fixation that motivates all of your actions. And unlike Fanaticism (p. 136), this does not necessarily imply a set of philosophical beliefs. You must rationalize all of your actions as an attempt to reach your goal. Make a self-control roll whenever it would be wise to deviate from your goal. If you fail, you continue to pursue your Obsession, regardless of the consequences. Point cost depends on the time needed to realize your goal. A shortterm goal (e.g., assassinating someone) is worth -5 points, while a longterm goal (e.g., becoming President) is worth -10 points. In both cases, modify the base cost to reflect your selfcontrol number. If your Obsession causes others to react badly, take Odious Personal Habit (p. 22) or Delusion (p. 130) as well. Should you ever reach your goal, you must either substitute a new goal or buy off your Obsession.

Odious Personal Habits see p. 22

On the Edge 2

-15 points*

You take grossly unreasonable risks in the face of mortal danger. Make a self-control roll whenever you face a life-threatening situation: piloting a burning vehicle, staring down an entire street gang while armed only with a toothbrush, etc. If you fail, you

may not back down from the challenge – but you may roll again after every success roll or reaction roll relating to the situation. This might be once per second in a potential combat situation but only once per day on a dangerous space mission. In combat, make a self-control roll every time you take your turn. If you fail, you must make an All-Out attack or engage in some other kind of nearinsane, suicidal behavior. Most people think you’re crazy if they witness this behavior, giving -2 on reaction rolls. Individuals who value bravery over self-preservation (GM’s decision) will react at +2.

One Arm 3

-20 points

You have only one arm. You cannot use two-handed weapons, wield two weapons at once (or a weapon and a shield), or perform any task that requires two arms. You get -4 on tasks that are possible with one arm but that are usually executed with two (e.g., most Climbing and Wrestling rolls). You have no penalty on tasks that require only one arm. In all cases, the GM’s ruling is final. When in doubt, try a quick reality check if possible! If you originally had two arms, assume that you lost the left arm if you were right-handed, or vice versa. If you are a nonhuman who only had one arm to begin with, your “arm”

need not be an arm at all – it can be any appendage capable of fine manipulation. For instance, a parrot that used its beak and tongue would have One Arm (and not No Fine Manipulators). If you have advanced prosthetics that cancel One Arm while worn, apply a Mitigator limitation (p. 112). Should you ever eliminate One Arm completely through surgery or an ultra-tech replacement limb, you must pay back the points you received for it.

One Eye 3

-15 points

You have only one eye. Either you are missing an eye (in which case you may wear a glass eye or cover the missing eye with a patch) or you have only a single, cyclopean eye. You suffer -1 to DX in combat and on any task involving hand-eye coordination, and -3 on ranged attacks (unless you Aim first) and on rolls to operate any vehicle faster than a horse and buggy. Some cultures regard those who are missing an eye as unattractive. If this is generally true in your game world, losing an eye will also reduce your appearance by one level (see Physical Appearance, p. 21). If you start with this trait, assume that it is already factored into your appearance – do not apply an additional reaction modifier.

One Hand 3

-15 points

You have only one hand. For the most part, use the rules under One Arm (above). The difference is that you may make unarmed parries with a handless arm, and possibly strap something to it (e.g., a shield). Good-quality prosthetic replacements use the rules under One Arm. Not all prosthetics are good enough to count as Mitigators, though. A lowtech mechanical replacement gives you -2 (for a grabber) or -4 (for a hook or claw) on tasks involving that hand. A hook or claw also counts as an undroppable large knife in combat (use Knife skill), and gives +1 to Intimidation skill if waved at your foes. In some societies, such crude replacements will reduce appearance as described under One Eye (above).



Overconfidence 2

-5 points*

You believe that you are far more powerful, intelligent, or competent than you really are. You may be proud and boastful or just quietly determined, but you must roleplay this trait. You must make a self-control roll any time the GM feels you show an unreasonable degree of caution. If you fail, you must go ahead as though you were able to handle the situation! Caution is not an option. You receive +2 on all reaction rolls from young or naive individuals (who believe you are as good as you say you are), but -2 on reactions from experienced NPCs. Overconfidence is like Megalomania (p. 144) on a smaller scale. Robin Hood was overconfident – he challenged strangers to quarterstaff duels. Hitler was a megalomaniac – he invaded Russia! Heroes are rarely megalomaniacal but often overconfident.

Overweight see p. 19

Pacifism 2


You are opposed to violence. This can take several forms. Choose one of the following: Reluctant Killer: You are psychologically unprepared to kill people. Whenever you make a deadly attack (e.g., with a knife or a gun) against an obvious person whose face is visible to you, you are at -4 to hit and may not Aim. If you cannot see the foe’s face (due to a mask, darkness, or distance, or because you attacked from behind), the penalty is only -2, save in close combat. You have no penalty to attack a vehicle (even an occupied one), an opponent you do not believe is a person (including things with Horrific or Monstrous appearance), or a target you can’t actually see (e.g., a set of map coordinates or a blip on a radar screen). If you kill a recognizable person, the effect on you is the same as for Cannot Kill (see below). You have no problem with your allies killing; you may even supply ammo, loaded weapons, and encouragement! You


just can’t do the killing yourself. -5 points. Cannot Harm Innocents: You may fight – you may even start fights – but you may only use deadly force on a foe that is attempting to do you serious harm. Capture is not “serious harm” unless you are already under penalty of death or have a Code of Honor that would require suicide if captured. You never intentionally do anything that causes, or even threatens to cause, injury to the uninvolved – particularly if they are “ordinary folks.” This trait is especially appropriate for crimefighters, supers, etc. -10 points. Cannot Kill: You may fight – you may even start fights – but you may never do anything that seems likely to kill another. This includes abandoning a wounded foe to die “on his own”! You must do your best to keep your companions from killing, too. If you do kill someone (or feel responsible for a death), you immediately suffer a nervous breakdown. Roll 3d and be totally morose and useless (roleplay it!) for that many days. During this time, you must make a Will roll to offer any sort of violence toward anyone, for any reason. -15 points. Self-Defense Only: You only fight to defend yourself or those in your care, using only as much force as necessary (no pre-emptive strikes allowed!). You must do your best to discourage others from starting fights. -15 points. Total Nonviolence: You will not lift a hand against another intelligent creature, for any reason. You must do your nonviolent best to discourage violent behavior in others, too. You are free to defend yourself against attacks by animals, mosquitoes, etc. -30 points. In a high-realism campaign, the GM might require all PCs to start out with Reluctant Killer or even Cannot Kill, giving them extra points but putting them at a disadvantage when facing hardened foes.

Paranoia 2

-10 points

You are out of touch with reality, and think that everyone is plotting against you. You never trust anyone except old friends . . . and you keep an eye on them, too, just in case. Most people, understandably, react to you at


-2. A paranoid NPC reacts at -4 toward any stranger, and any “legitimate” reaction penalty (e.g., for an unfriendly race or nationality) is doubled. Paranoia goes very well with Delusions (p. 130), which of course have their own disadvantage value!

Phantom Voices 2

-5 to -15 points

You are plagued by whispered phrases that only you can hear. These voices might be unintelligible, or they might repeat the same words over and over. Eventually, your sanity (such as it is) will start to erode. In any situation that the GM feels is stressful, he may roll 3d. On a 6 or less, you hear voices. The GM will always roll whenever you miss a Fright Check or make the roll exactly, and whenever you fail a self-control roll for another stress-related disadvantage. The voices occur in addition to any other results! Point value depends on the nature of the voices: Annoying: You hear voices, but you are reasonably sure that they are not real, and they do not harm you directly. Still, most people who see you responding to unheard noises will react at -2. -5 points. Disturbing: As above, but in addition, the voices can drown out normal sounds, and may even startle and frighten you (possibly requiring a Fright Check). -10 points. Diabolical: The voices tell you to kill – yourself or others – or perform other terrible deeds. If you are already under stress, or under the influence of drugs, you might need to make a Will roll to avoid carrying out the “orders” (GM’s discretion). -15 points. Phantom Voices are usually due to mental problems, but they may also be symptomatic of some form of supernatural possession. If so, psychotherapy cannot reveal the cause, much less cure the problem. If you manage to exorcise the evil spirits, you are cured and must buy off this disadvantage.

Phobias 2


You are afraid of a specific item, creature, or circ*mstance. Many fears are reasonable, but a Phobia is an

unreasonable, unreasoning, morbid fear. The point value depends on how common the object of your fear is – fear of darkness is far more troublesome than fear of left-handed plumbers. Make a self-control roll whenever you are exposed to the object of your Phobia. If you fail, roll 3d, add the amount by which you failed your selfcontrol roll, and look up the result on the Fright Check Table (p. 360). For instance, if your self-control number is 9 but you rolled a 13, roll 3d+4 on the table. The result from the table affects you immediately! If you succeed, you have successfully mastered your Phobia (for now), but you are still shaken, and have a penalty to all DX, IQ, and skill rolls while the cause of your fear persists. The penalty depends on your selfcontrol number. Self-Control Number 6 9 12 15

Penalty -4 -3 -2 -1

You must roll again every 10 minutes to see if the fear overcomes you. Even the mere threat of the feared object requires a self-control roll,

although this is at +4. If your enemies actually inflict the feared object on you, you must make an unmodified self-control roll, as described above. If you fail, you might break down, depending on the Fright Check results, but you won’t necessarily talk. Some people can panic and fall apart, but still refuse to talk – just as some people do not talk under torture. A phobic situation is by definition stressful. If you have other mental disadvantages that are triggered by stress, you are likely to have these reactions if you fail to resist a Phobia. Some common phobias: Being Alone (Autophobia): You cannot stand to be alone, and do anything in your power to avoid it. -15 points.* Blood (Hemophobia): The sight of blood gives you the screaming willies! You need to make a self-control roll during most combats . . . -10 points.* Cats (Ailurophobia): -5 points.* Crowds (Demophobia): Any group of over a dozen people sets off this fear unless they are all well known to you. The self-control roll is at -1 for over 25 people, -2 for a crowd of 100 or more, -3 for 1,000, -4 for 10,000, and so on. -15 points.* Darkness (Scotophobia): A common fear, but crippling. You should avoid


being underground if possible; if something happens to your flashlight or torch, you might well lose your mind before you can relight it. -15 points.* Death and the Dead (Necrophobia): You are terrified by the idea of death. Make a self-control roll in the presence of any dead body (animals don’t count, but portions of human bodies do). Roll at -4 if the body is that of someone you know, or -6 if the body is unnaturally animated in some way. A ghost (or apparent ghost) also requires a roll at -6. -10 points.* Dirt (Mysophobia): You are deathly afraid of infection, or just of dirt and filth. Make a self-control roll when you must do something that might get you dirty. Roll at -5 to eat any unaccustomed food. You should act as “finicky” as possible. -10 points.* Dogs (Cynophobia): This includes all canines: foxes, wolves, coyotes, wild dogs, etc. -5 points.* Enclosed Spaces (Claustrophobia): A common, crippling fear. You are uncomfortable any time you can’t see the sky – or at least a very high ceiling. In a small room or vehicle, you feel the walls closing in on you . . . You need air! This is a dangerous fear for someone who plans to go underground. -15 points.*


Fire (Pyrophobia): Even a burning cigarette bothers you if it comes within five yards. -5 points.* Heights (Acrophobia): You may not voluntarily go more than 15 feet above ground, unless you are inside a building and away from windows. If there is some chance of an actual fall, selfcontrol rolls are at -5. -10 points.* Insects (Entomophobia): You are afraid of all “bugs.” Large or poisonous ones give -3 to self-control rolls. Very large ones, or large numbers, give -6. Avoid hills of giant ants. -10 points.* Loud Noises (Brontophobia): You avoid any situation where loud noises are likely. A sudden loud noise requires an immediate self-control roll. A thunderstorm is a traumatic experience for you! -10 points.* Machinery (Technophobia): You can never learn to repair any sort of machine and refuse to learn to use anything more complicated than a crossbow or bicycle. Any highly technological environment calls for a selfcontrol roll; dealings with robots or computers require a roll at -3, and hostility from intelligent machines requires a roll at -6. -5 points at TL4 or below, -15 points at TL5 or above.* Magic (Manaphobia): You can never learn to use magic, and you react badly to any user of magic. Make a self-control roll whenever you are in the presence of magic. This roll is at -3 if you are to be the target of friendly magic, and -6 if you are the target of hostile magic. (The magic does not have to be real, if you believe in it!) -15 points in a setting where magic is common, -10 if it is known but uncommon, -5 if “real” magic is essentially unknown.* Monsters (Teratophobia): Any “unnatural” creature sets off this fear. You have -1 to -4 on the self-control roll if the monster seems very large or dangerous, or if there are a lot of them. Note that the definition of “monster” depends on experience. An American Indian would consider an elephant monstrous, while an African pygmy would not! -15 points.* Number 13 (Triskaidekaphobia): You must make a self-control roll whenever you have to deal with the number 13 – visit the 13th floor, buy something for $13.00, etc. Roll at -5 if Friday the 13th is involved! -5 points.*


Oceans (Thalassophobia): You are afraid of any large body of water. Ocean travel, or even air travel over the ocean, is basically impossible for you, and encounters with aquatic monsters are also upsetting. -10 points.* Open Spaces (Agoraphobia): You are uncomfortable whenever you are outside, and actually become frightened when there are no walls within 50 feet. -10 points.* Psionic Powers (Psionophobia): You are afraid of those with known psionic powers. An actual exhibition of power in your presence requires a self-control roll. You do not voluntarily allow anyone to use a psionic power on you. The power does not have to be real – all that matters is that you believe it is! -15 points if psi powers are common, -10 if they are uncommon, -5 if they are essentially unknown.* Reptiles (Herpetophobia): You come unglued at the thought of reptiles, amphibians, and similar scaly slimies. A very large reptile, or a poisonous one, gives -2 to self-control rolls; a horde of reptiles (such as a snake pit) gives -4. -10 points.* Sex (Coitophobia): You are terrified by the idea of sexual relations or the loss of your virginity. -10 points* Sharp Things (Aichmophobia): You are afraid of anything pointed. Swords, spears, knives, and hypodermic needles all give you fits. Trying to use a sharp weapon, or being threatened with one, requires a self-control roll at -2. -15 points at TL5 or below, -10 at TL6 or above.* Spiders (Arachnophobia): -5 points.* Strange and Unknown Things (Xenophobia): You are upset by any sort of strange circ*mstances, and in particular by strange people. Make a self-control roll when surrounded by people of another race or nationality; roll at -3 if the people are not human. If you lose control, you might well attack strangers out of fear. -15 points.* Sun (Heliophobia): -15 points.* Weapons (Hoplophobia): The presence of any sort of weaponry is stressful. Trying to use a weapon, or being threatened with one, requires a selfcontrol roll at -2. -20 points.*


Post-Combat Shakes 2

-5 points*

You are shaken and sickened by combat, but only after it’s over. Make a self-control roll at the end of any battle. It is up to the GM to determine when a battle has truly ended, and he may apply a penalty if the combat was particularly dangerous or gruesome. If you fail, roll 3d, add the amount by which you failed your self-control roll, and look up the result on the Fright Check Table (p. 360). For instance, if your self-control number is 12 but you rolled a 14, roll 3d+2 on the table. The result from the table affects you immediately!

Pyromania 2

-5 points*

You like fires! You like to set fires, too. For good roleplaying, you must never miss a chance to set a fire, or to appreciate one you encounter. Make a self-control roll whenever you have an opportunity to set a fire.

Quadriplegic 3

-80 points

You are paralyzed in all your arms and legs, or lack limbs entirely. You can neither manipulate objects nor move yourself without assistance. You suffer all the bad effects of Paraplegic (see Lame, p. 141) and No Manipulators (see No Fine Manipulators, p. 145). If the GM is enforcing a disadvantage limit, Quadriplegic counts against the limit – but you may reduce ST and DX by up to four levels each without the resulting disadvantage points counting against the limit (points gained from further reductions count normally). For rules governing prosthetic limbs and surgical cures, see Lame (p. 141) and One Arm (p. 147) for legs and arms, respectively.

Reprogrammable 2 1

-10 points

You can be programmed to obey a master. If you have Slave Mentality (p. 154), you must obey slavishly, and remain strictly within the letter of your master’s commands. If you lack Slave Mentality, you may interpret his orders creatively, as long as you

remain within either their letter or spirit (your choice). If you are nonsentient (IQ 0), you have no interest in doing anything but following your programming! You may have both Duty and Reprogrammable. If so, you must do your best to fulfill both obligations. Should the two come into conflict, your programming always comes first. This trait is most appropriate for golems, mindless undead, robots, and similar automata. It is rarely suitable for PCs, and the GM may choose to forbid it entirely.

attention. Critical failure means an incapacitating reaction (GM’s decision): severe immune response, engine failure, etc. Those who lack this limitation but for some reason attempt substitution derive no sustenance at all and must still make the HT roll above; treat success as failure and failure as critical failure. -50%.

Restricted Vision 3

-15 or -30 points

Restricted Diet 3

You have an unusually narrow field of vision. A normal character can see a 120° arc in front of him without turning his head, and has 30° of peripheral vision to either side, giving him a 180° “arc of vision” for observation and ranged attacks. On a battle map, this means he has three “front” hexes, two “side” hexes (“left” and “right”), and a single “back” hex. Your vision is considerably more restricted. This comes in two levels:

You require a specialized food or fuel that is hard to come by. Unlike Dependency (p. 130), you do not take damage if you go without . . . you just can’t eat or refuel, which will eventually incapacitate you. Point value depends on the rarity of the item you consume:

No Peripheral Vision: Your arc of vision is a 120° wedge to the front. On a map, your “left” and “right” hexes become “back” hexes – that is, you have three “back” hexes, and get no defense against attacks originating from these hexes! -15 points. Tunnel Vision: Your arc of vision is a 60° wedge to the front. On a map,

Reputation see p. 26 A negative reputation counts as a disadvantage. Note it as such on your character sheet!

-10 to -40 points

your only “front” hex is the one directly ahead of you. The hexes to either side of this are “side” hexes: you are at -2 to defend against attacks from these hexes, and can only attack into those hexes with a Wild Swing. Everything else is a “back” hex, as above. -30 points.

Revulsion 3 5

-5 to -15 points

You have an incapacitating supernatural reaction to an ordinarily innocuous substance. If you touch or breathe the substance, you must immediately make a HT roll. On a failure, you are at -5 to all skills and attributes for the next 10 minutes. If you ingest the substance, you are at -5 to attributes and -10 to all skills and Sense rolls for 10 minutes. Point value depends on the rarity of the substance: Occasional (leather, soap): -5 points. Common (smoke, wood): -10 points. Very Common (grass, metal): -15 points. This reaction is physical in nature. For mental aversions, see Dread (p. 132).

Rare: Dragon’s blood, exotic nutrient mixture, weapons-grade uranium. -40 points. Occasional: Virgin’s blood, rocket fuel, babies, radioactives. -30 points. Common: Human flesh, gasoline, liquid hydrogen. -20 points. Very Common: Fresh meat, any hydrocarbon fuel (gasoline, diesel, etc.), electric batteries, fresh blood. -10 points. Restricted Diet is appropriate for normal humans with chronic gastrointestinal disorders.

Special Limitations Substitution: You can try to consume a food or fuel similar to the one you require. For instance, a cyborg that requires exotic nutrients could try ordinary human food, or a machine that requires gasoline could try diesel. This sustains you, but you must make a HT roll after each meal or refueling. Failure means your HT attribute drops by one until you receive appropriate medical or mechanical



Sadism 2

-15 points*

You delight in cruelty . . . mental, physical, or both. Make a self-control roll whenever you have an opportunity to indulge your desires and know you shouldn’t (e.g., because the prisoner is one who should be released unharmed). If you fail, you cannot restrain yourself. Those who become aware of your problem react at -3 unless they are from a culture that holds life in little esteem. This is a particularly “evil” trait, more appropriate to villainous NPCs than to heroic PCs. The GM may completely prohibit Sadism if he does not want anyone roleplaying it in his campaign. It is possible, though despicable, to possess both Bully (p. 125) and Sadism.

Secret 4

-5 to -30 points

A Secret is an aspect of your life or your past that you must keep hidden. Revelation would result in lasting negative consequences. The point value depends on the severity of those consequences: Serious Embarrassment: If this information gets around, you can forget about ever getting a promotion, getting elected, or marrying well. Alternatively, revelation of your Secret might simply attract unwelcome public attention. -5 points. Utter Rejection: If your Secret is revealed, it will change your whole life. Perhaps you will lose your job and be rejected by friends and loved ones. Perhaps admirers, cultists, long-lost

relatives, or the press will harass you. -10 points. Imprisonment or Exile: If the authorities uncover your Secret, you’ll have to flee, or be imprisoned for a long time (GM’s discretion). -20 points. Possible Death: Your Secret is so terrible that you might be executed by the authorities, lynched by a mob, or assassinated (by the Mafia, CIA, etc.) were it revealed. You would be a hunted man. -30 points.

Frequency of Appearance In general, a Secret appears in a particular game session if the GM rolls a 6 or less on 3d before the adventure begins. However, as for all other disadvantages of this type, the GM need not feel constrained by the appearance roll. If he thinks that the Secret should come into play, it does! When a Secret appears in play, it is not automatically made public. The GM will give you a chance to prevent your Secret from being revealed. This might require you to cave in to blackmail or extortion, steal incriminating documents, or even silence the person who knows the Secret. Regardless of the solution, however, it’s only temporary – the Secret will appear again and again until either you buy it off with earned character points or it is finally revealed.

Effects of Revelation If a Secret is made public, there is an immediate negative effect ranging from serious embarrassment to possible death, depending on the severity of the Secret (see above). There is also a lasting effect: you suddenly acquire new, permanent disadvantages – or lose advantages – worth points equal to twice what the Secret was worth! These new disadvantages replace the Secret on your character sheet, and reduce your point value accordingly. The GM chooses the new disadvantages and lost advantages, which should always be appropriate to the Secret. Most Secrets turn into Enemies (p. 135), negative Reputations (p. 26), and Social Stigmas (p. 155), or reduce or remove advantages described under Wealth and Influence (pp. 25-30). Some could even turn into mental or physical disadvantages.



Example: A city guardsman has a -20-point Secret: at night, he is a thief. When he is finally caught and brought to justice, his Secret is revealed and immediately replaced with -40 points in disadvantages and lost advantages! The GM rules that he is stripped of his 5-point Legal Enforcement Powers (-5 points), gains Social Stigma (Criminal Record) (-5 points), and is punished by having his right hand chopped off (One Hand, -15 points) and being forced to pay reparations that reduce his Wealth from Average to Poor (-15 points).

Secret Identity 4


A Secret Identity is a special kind of Secret (above): it is another persona that you use for deeds that you don’t want connected with your “public” self. Only your closest family and friends know, and you are willing to go to great lengths to keep your privacy. This is a disadvantage because it limits your behavior. It is difficult (and often illegal) to maintain a Secret Identity. The GM will roll to see whether your Secret Identity factors into a game session, just as for any Secret. If it does, this usually takes the form of someone who threatens to expose your real identity. Anyone with Status 3 or higher gets an extra -10 points for a Secret Identity, because of the attention the media and public pay to his every move, but the GM will introduce a challenge to his identity on a roll of 7 or less instead of the usual 6 or less. A Secret Identity otherwise works just like any other Secret, its point value depending on the severity of the consequences should it be exposed.

Self-Destruct 3 1

-10 points

As soon as you reach your aging threshold (age 50 for a normal human), your organs and immune system begin to fail. You start to age rapidly, making aging rolls every day at -3 to HT. You cannot get points for both this disadvantage and Terminally Ill (p. 158). If you are going to selfdestruct soon, take Terminally Ill instead of Self-Destruct.

Selfish 2

-5 points*

You are self-important and statusconscious, and spend much of your time striving for social dominance. Make a self-control roll whenever you experience a clear social slight or “snub.” On a failure, you lash out at the offending party just as if you had Bad Temper (p. 124) – likely resulting in a bad reaction (-3 to the target’s reactions toward you) and putting you in an awkward social situation. Selfish NPCs react to perceived slights at a penalty: Self-Control Number 6 9 12 15

Selfless 2

Penalty -5 -4 -3 -2

-5 points*

You are altruistic and self-sacrificing, and put little importance on personal fame and wealth. You must make a self-control roll to put your needs – even survival – before those of someone else. A Selfless race will have a “hive mentality.”

Semi-Upright 3 1

-5 points

You have a semi-upright posture, like a chimpanzee. You can stand up more-or-less comfortably, allowing you to use your forelimbs to bash enemies, hold babies, or even manipulate objects. You can manage a clumsy gait while upright (-40% to Move), but you must use all of your limbs to run at full Move. If you have DX 12 or more, you can carry a small object or two while walking.

whether they trust you in a dangerous situation. However, if you go against your Sense of Duty by acting against the interests of those you are supposed to be looking out for, the GM will penalize you for bad roleplaying. The GM will assign a point value to your Sense of Duty based on the size of the group you feel compelled to aid: Individual (the President, your wingman, etc.): -2 points. Small Group (e.g., your close friends, adventuring companions, or squad): -5 points. Large Group (e.g., a nation or religion, or everyone you know personally): -10 points. Entire Race (all humanity, all elves, etc.): -15 points. Every Living Being: -20 points. You cannot claim points for a Sense of Duty toward Allies, Dependents, or Patrons. The point costs of these traits already take such a bond into account. You can take a Sense of Duty toward adventuring companions. If you do, you must share equipment with and render aid to the other members of your adventuring party, and go along with majority decisions. The GM might make this mandatory in games where the party needs to get along. This gives everyone a “free” 5 points to spend . . . but if you start backstabbing, running off on your own, etc., the GM is free to overrule your actions and point to these bonus points as the reason why.

Shadow Form 3 1

-20 points

See p. 83. If you cannot turn this ability off, it is a disadvantage.

Sense of Duty 2

Short Attention Span 2

You feel a strong sense of commitment toward a particular class of people. You will never betray them, abandon them when they’re in trouble, or let them suffer or go hungry if you can help. This is different from a Duty (p. 133), which is imposed upon you. A Sense of Duty always comes from within. If you are known to have a Sense of Duty, the GM will adjust the reactions of others by +2 when rolling to see

You find it difficult to concentrate on a single task for longer than a few minutes. Make a self-control roll whenever you must maintain interest in something for an extended period of time, or whenever a distraction is offered. If you fail, you automatically fail at the task at hand. The GM might give you a small bonus to the self-control roll in situations where concentration is crucial, such as when your survival is at stake.

-2 to -20 points


-10 points*


Level 0 (Human) 1 2 3 4

Short Lifespan 31

-10 points/level

Your lifespan is much shorter than the human norm. Each level of this disadvantage halves your lifespan (round down). This affects the age at which you reach maturity, the ages at which aging rolls begin and increase in frequency, and the interval between aging rolls; see the table (above right). No more than four levels are possible. Short Lifespan is often found in conjunction with Self-Destruct (p. 153).

Shyness 2

-5, -10, or -20 points

You are uncomfortable around strangers. Roleplay it! This disadvantage comes in three levels; you can buy it off one level at a time. Mild: You are uneasy with strangers, especially assertive or attractive ones. You have -1 on skills that require you to deal with people, including Acting, Carousing, Diplomacy, Fast-Talk, Intimidation, Leadership, Merchant, Panhandling, Performance, Politics, Public Speaking, Savoir-Faire, Sex Appeal, Streetwise, and Teaching. -5 points. Severe: You are very uncomfortable around strangers, and tend to be quiet even among friends. -2 the skills listed above. -10 points. Crippling: You avoid strangers whenever possible. You may not learn the skills listed above at all, and are at -4 on default rolls on such skills. -20 points.

Skinny see p. 18

Slave Mentality 2

Maturity 18 years 9 years 4 years 2 years 1 year

Aging [Frequency of Aging Rolls] 50 years [1 year] 70 years [6 months] 25 years [6 months] 35 years [3 months] 12 years [3 months] 17 years [45 days] 6 years [45 days] 8 years [22 days] 3 years [22 days] 4 years [11 days]

that success might be possible, in which case you roll at -6. This doesn’t necessarily imply low IQ or Will. You might be intelligent enough to obey the command, “Program the computer to detect quarks,” but if you were starving and found $10, you would have to roll vs. IQ-8 to decide to pick up the money and go buy food without being told to do so. Similarly, you might be strongwilled enough to make all your Fright Checks in the presence of terrifying monsters, yet roll at Will-6 to resist the unsubtle manipulations of an obvious con man. This disadvantage is rarely appropriate for PCs, and the GM may choose to forbid it entirely.

Sleepwalker 2

-5 points*

You walk in your sleep (“somnambulate”). This is merely annoying or embarrassing under most circ*mstances (unless you fall down the stairs), but it can be very dangerous to sleepwalk while encamped in hostile territory!

90 years [3 months] 45 years [45 days] 22 years [22 days] 11 years [11 days] 5 years [5 days]

rough ground – if this happens, you wake up suddenly and are mentally stunned. You are considered to be in a hypnagogic state while sleepwalking, and thus are very susceptible to telepathic influences. If you possess supernatural abilities, you might use these while sleepwalking (e.g., if you have Warp, you might “sleepwarp” instead).

Sleepy 3 1


This is a racial trait. Members of the race need to sleep more than the human norm of 1/3 of the time. Point value depends on the fraction of the time they must spend asleep: Time Spent Asleep 1/2 of the time 2/3 of the time 3/4 of the time 7/8 of the time

Cost -8 points -16 points -20 points -26 points

The race’s precise schedule is a “special effect.” For instance, a race that sleeps 3/4 of the time might be awake and active for three days straight and then sleep for a full nine days.

Sleepwalking is merely annoying or embarrassing under most circ*mstances, but it can be very dangerous to sleepwalk while encamped in hostile territory!

-40 points

You have no initiative, and become confused and ineffectual without a “master” to give you orders. You must make an IQ roll at -8 before you can take any action that isn’t either obeying a direct order or part of an established routine. As well, you automatically fail any Will roll to assert yourself or resist social influence except in circ*mstances where the GM rules


If sleepwalking would matter during an adventure, the GM will make a self-control roll for you whenever you go to sleep. If you fail, you sleepwalk sometime during the night. You wake up after walking for 1d minutes, or if someone awakens you. The GM will make DX rolls to see if you trip while going down stairs or walking over


This trait can also represent hibernation. For instance, if a race is awake and active on a human schedule for six months, and then hibernates for two months straight, then on the average, that’s equivalent to sleeping 1/2 of the time.

Slow Eater 3 1

-10 points

You spend a lot of your time eating. Each meal takes about two hours, as opposed to about 1/2 hour for most humans. This reduces the time available for study, long tasks, and travel on foot by 4 1/2 hours per day.

Slow Healing 3

-5 points/level

Your body heals very slowly. Each level (maximum three levels) doubles the interval between HT rolls to regain lost HP: roll every two days for Slow Healing 1, every four days for Slow Healing 2, and every eight days for Slow Healing 3. Take Unhealing (p. 160) if you heal even more slowly. Each level also doubles the time allowed between Physician rolls when under the care of a competent physician (see Medical Care, p. 424). Normal humans may take no more than one level of Slow Healing.

Slow Riser 3

-5 points

You are not a “morning person.” For one hour after you awaken from any sleep longer than a one-hour nap, you have -2 on all self-control rolls and -1 to IQ and IQ-based skills. Furthermore, whenever the GM assesses attribute penalties for missed sleep, you suffer an extra -1.

Social Disease 3

-5 points

You have contracted a contagious, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, retrovirus, or similar disease. This is only transmitted by close, unprotected physical contact. Those who know about it react to you at -1 and automatically resist your seduction attempts. The disease isn’t fatal – at least not immediately – but may produce physical symptoms (left to the imagination of the player or GM).

Social Stigma 4

-5 to -20 points

You belong to a race, class, sex, or other group that your society deems inferior. To be worth points, this must be obvious from your physical appearance (a visible brand, tattoo, or magical mark counts), dress, manner, or

speech; or easily learned by anyone who cares to check up on you (only valid in societies with free and easy access to information); or the result of public denouncement (e.g., by a powerful leader or media figure) that ensures that everyone you meet knows that you, personally, belong to the disdained group. A Social Stigma gives you a reaction penalty (-1 per -5 points of Social Stigma), restricts your social mobility, or both. Examples include: Criminal Record: You have been convicted of a crime that your society considers serious. You may be prohibited from legally acquiring certain items (e.g., weapons), taking certain kinds of employment, receiving security clearances, or even traveling outside your country. Many noncriminals who learn of your past react at -1; police, judges, vigilantes, and other law-and-order types usually react at -2. If you are also wanted, take an appropriate Enemy. -5 points. Disowned: Your family has publicly snubbed you. This is only worth points in settings where family ties play a significant social role, and never applies to those who voluntarily part ways with their family. This Social Stigma comes in two levels: • You would normally be an heir in your culture, but someone else has been named in your stead. This is embarrassing, but you may still count yourself as part of the family. This gives -1 on reaction rolls. -5 points. • The head of your family – or your entire clan – has wholly and publicly disowned you. This gives -2 on reaction rolls. -10 points. Excommunicated: Your church has cast you out. Followers of your faith react to you at -3. This is only a disadvantage if you are excommunicated by a powerful and widespread religion (most likely state-backed) that plays a significant role in day-to-day life. -5 points. If your religion has true supernatural power, and you are surrounded by an aura that conveys your shame to co-religionists, angels, and anyone else who would care, no matter how well you disguise yourself, your Social Stigma is worth twice as much. -10 points.


Ignorant: You have not learned a skill required of all responsible adults in your society (that is, you have no points in the skill). Others look down upon you as a slacker or a fool. This gives -1 on reactions for each “expected” skill you lack, up to a maximum of four skills. This is only worth points in highly structured societies, or in primitive ones where individuals depend on one another for survival. -5 points/skill. Minor: You are underage by your culture’s standards. You suffer -2 on reaction rolls whenever you try to deal with others as an adult; they might like you, but they do not fully respect you. You might also be barred from nightclubs, vehicle operation, war parties, guild membership, etc., depending on the culture and setting. You must buy off this trait when you reach “legal age” (usually 18) for your time and place. -5 points. Minority Group: You are a member of a minority that the dominant culture around you regards as “barbarians” or “inferior.” You get -2 on all reaction rolls made by anyone except your own kind. In an area, profession, or situation where your minority is especially rare, you get +2 on reaction rolls made by your own kind. -10 points. Monster: You are a large carnivore, magical abomination, or other being that is hated or feared regardless of actual appearance or disposition. This gives you -3 on all reaction rolls, and you are liable to be hunted on sight. However, you get +3 to Intimidation rolls in situations where you have the upper hand (GM’s opinion). Examples: a bear or a vampire. -15 points. Second-Class Citizen: You belong to a group that receives fewer rights and privileges than “full citizens.” This gives -1 on all reaction rolls except from others of your own kind. Examples: a woman in 19th-century America, or members of some religions. -5 points. Subjugated: You are a member of a slave nation or race. Within the overlords’ culture, you have no rights, and suffer the negative effects of SecondClass Citizen and Valuable Property. If you manage to escape to freedom, you acquire the entire overlord nation or race as an Enemy. -20 points.


Uneducated: You are from a class, race, or subculture that lacks a cultural repository of wisdom, eschews formal schooling, and takes a dim view of activities that do not relate directly to survival or procreation. You receive -1 to reactions from more sophisticated folk in any situation where your lack of schooling would be apparent, and you may not start with any “booklearned” skills (GM’s discretion; most IQ/Hard skills qualify). You may buy off this trait once you have lived in “civilized” parts for long enough (GM’s decision). -5 points. Valuable Property: Your society regards you as somebody’s property rather than as a “legal person.” This takes the form of limited freedom or lack of intellectual respect more than as a reaction modifier. Examples: a woman in 18th-century America or 16th-century Japan. -10 points. Social Stigmas must bind those who take them. For example, a medieval Japanese lady must pay for her 10-point bonus by giving up her freedom of movement in many cases, and must defer to older male relatives when they are present. A black slave in 19th-century America is allowed to learn very little and own almost no property, and has little freedom of any kind unless he manages to escape. (If he does escape, he has traded his Social Stigma for a powerful Enemy!) It is possible to have multiple Social Stigmas, provided they do not significantly overlap (GM’s decision). For instance, a teenager who drops out of school and joins a street gang could believably end up with Minor, Uneducated, and Criminal Record.

Space Sickness 3

-10 points

You are miserable in free fall. You can never learn Free Fall skill; you must always roll at default. In addition, you are at -4 on your HT roll to avoid “space adaptation syndrome” (see p. 434) – and if you fail the first HT roll, the only way for you to recover is to return to normal gravity. This trait is only allowed in campaigns that feature regular space travel.


Split Personality 2

Squeamish 2

You have two or more distinct personalities, each with its own set of behavior patterns. They may interpret their memories differently, and even use different names. For each personality, select a “package” of mental disadvantages and up to five quirks. The GM may also permit variations in IQ, Perception, Will, and mental advantages, where these would make sense. Each package of mental traits must be worth the same number of points. When calculating the value of your character, count the “package price” once – not once for each personality. All your personalities have the same physical traits and skills (although some personalities might not use certain skills), and share any mental trait that is not part of one of these packages.

You dislike “yucky stuff”: little bugs and crawly things, blood and dead bodies, slime, etc. When exposed to such things, you react just as if you had a Phobia; see Phobias, p. 148. Note that you do not suffer from the standard fears of insects, reptiles, dirt, and the dead! What bothers you isn’t huge bugs or reptiles, ordinary “clean” dirt, and ghosts; it’s nasty creepy things, filth, and bits of grue.

-15 points*

Example: Bob Smith has three personalities. “Col. Smith” is a stern disciplinarian with Delusion (“I am a military officer”) [-10], Code of Honor (Soldier’s) [-10], and the quirk “Stands on ceremony” [-1]. “Bobby” is a party animal with -2 to Will [-10], Compulsive Carousing (6) [-10], and the quirk “Sleeps all day and goes out at night” [-1]. “Smitty” is a troublemaker with Overconfidence (12) [-5], Trickster [-15], and the quirk “Steals for fun” [-1]. All three personalities share all of Bob’s other traits. Each package totals -21 points. Bob’s player claims the -21 points once. With -15 points for Split Personality (12), the total point value is -36 points. You must make a self-control roll in any stressful situation (but no more than once per hour of game time). On a failure, one of your other personalities emerges, and you behave according to its mental disadvantages and quirks. If there are several possibilities, the GM should either choose a personality appropriate to the situation or roll randomly. All your personalities are somewhat shallow and affected, which gives -1 to reactions at all times. Those who witness a personality change will feel (possibly with justification) that you are a dangerous nutcase, and react at -3.


-10 points*

Status see p. 28 Status below 0 is a disadvantage. Almost everyone reacts negatively to you!

Stress Atavism 2 1


This disadvantage is normally available only to characters who are members of races “uplifted” from an animal state. You temporarily “regress” when frightened, angered, fatigued, or injured. Make a self-control roll in those situations. On a failure, you behave like an animal, acting on impulse and instinct. Once the stressful situation has passed, make a self-control roll every minute. If friends comfort you, roll at +2. If one of these people has Animal Empathy or Empathy, apply an additional +2. On a success, the attack ends and you return to normal. If you pass out from fatigue or injury before you succeed, you recover automatically when you wake up. Point value depends on the severity of the attacks: Mild: You have trouble speaking, and must roll vs. IQ to utter a sentence. You cannot operate complicated machinery, although you may attack wildly with weapons (-4 to hit). -10 points.* Moderate: You suffer from all of the above problems, and have trouble understanding commands from others as well: roll vs. IQ to understand a sentence spoken by someone else. If you are attacked or challenged, you must make a self-control roll to avoid acting “on instinct.” -15 points.*

Severe: You cannot speak or understand others, or use tools (except possibly as clubs), and automatically act on instinct at all times. You behave like your primitive ancestors! -20 points.*

Appearance, p. 21). You cannot get points for Supernatural Features if you are Monstrous or Horrific, however. If you look that scary, you’re not hiding any secrets!

soul! -2 on reaction rolls made by those who notice; +2 on all rolls to deduce your secret. -10 points.

No Body Heat: You are cold to the touch. -1 on reaction rolls made by those who touch you, shake your hand, kiss you, etc.; +1 on all rolls to deduce your secret. -5 points (-1 point if you can gain warmth temporarily; e.g., after feeding, for a vampire). No Reflection: You produce no reflection. You do not show up in mirrors, still water, and similar reflective surfaces, and technological devices such as cameras do not display your image. In some places and times, people will assume that you have no

No Shadow: You produce no shadow, regardless of the intensity or direction of the light source. -2 on reaction rolls made by those who notice; +2 on all rolls to deduce your secret. -10 points. Pallor: You look like a corpse, with bloodless skin, sunken eyes, etc. -2 on reaction rolls made by anyone who can see you without makeup in good light; +2 on all rolls to deduce your secret. -10 points (-5 points if you can gain the flush of life temporarily; e.g., after feeding, for a vampire).

Stress Atavism may result in additional troublesome behavior. Pick a suitable mental disadvantage, halve its value (drop all fractions), and add this point cost to the above costs before applying the self-control multiplier.

Stubbornness 2

-5 points

You always want your own way. Make yourself generally hard to get along with – roleplay it! Your friends may have to make a lot of Fast-Talk rolls to get you to go along with perfectly reasonable plans. Others react to you at -1.

Stuttering 3

-10 points

You suffer from a stammer or other speech impediment. This gives -2 on any reaction roll where conversation is required, and -2 to Diplomacy, Fast-Talk, Performance, Public Speaking, Sex Appeal, and Singing. Certain occupations (interpreter, newsreader, etc.) are always closed to you.

Supernatural Features 35


You have disturbing features that mark you as a demon, vampire, or other supernatural being. You can pass for a normal mortal to casual observers, but closer inspection reveals that you are not quite right. This might give away your secret to the trained eye. Supernatural Features differ from Unnatural Features (p. 22) in that they aren’t usually obvious; they only become apparent under a specific set of circ*mstances. When they are noticed, though, they result in a reaction penalty. They also give those who know what to look for a bonus to any skill roll (against Hidden Lore, Occultism, etc.) made to identify your true nature. Supernatural Features can accompany appearance levels Hideous through Transcendent (see Physical



Supersensitive 2 5

Point cost depends on the item’s rarity in the environment:

You are telepathically sensitive to the presence of others all the time. You experience a constant, irritating buzz of low-level psychic noise. This does not imply any kind of useful telepathic ability – the thoughts and emotions you receive remain just below the threshold of conscious understanding. If there are any sapient beings (IQ 6+) with 20 yards, you suffer -1 to DX and IQ. This becomes -2 for 10 or more people, -3 for 100 or more, -4 for 1,000 or more, and so on. If DX or IQ drops below half its original score because of this penalty, you collapse and can take no action until the “noise” goes away. Machine intelligences and individuals behind telepathic shielding (psionic, technological, or otherwise) do not bother you. There is one beneficial side effect to Supersensitive: the psychic noise you receive warns you if there are people within 20 yards, and the noise level tells you roughly how many. The noise is too diffuse to let you determine their locations, however.

Very Common (e.g., Disease, Poison): -4 points/-1 to HT rolls. Common (e.g., Bacteria, Gases): -2 points/-1 to HT rolls. Occasional (e.g., Intestinal Disease, Ingested Poison): -1 point/-1 to HT rolls.

-15 points

Susceptible 3


You are extremely sensitive to a particular class of noxious items or substances; e.g., disease or poison. You have a penalty to all HT rolls to resist the negative effects of these things. You do not suffer extra damage, however; for that, see Vulnerability (p. 161). If you are exposed to trace quantities of an item to which you are Susceptible – a dose so tiny that it would not affect most people – you must roll against HT+1, modified by your usual penalty for this disadvantage. If you fail, you suffer half the effects (fatigue, injury, attribute loss, period of incapacitation, etc.) you would suffer from a full dose. For instance, Susceptible to Poison would require a roll if you ingested highly diluted industrial waste in drinking water, while Susceptible to Disease would require a roll if you received a “live” vaccine (one that contains weakened microbes). Should there be any doubt as to exposure or effects, the GM’s decision is final.


You may not take more than five levels of Susceptible to a given item, or more than two separate Susceptible disadvantages, without the GM’s permission. You cannot take more levels of Susceptible than would reduce your effective HT to 3. For instance, if your HT is 7, you are limited to four levels of Susceptible. If you have any form of

More than two years is worth nothing. Anyone might be hit by a truck in that time! If you acquire a “miracle cure,” upload yourself into a new body, or otherwise extend your life past your termination date during the course of the campaign, you must buy off this disadvantage. If you cannot afford to do so, the GM is free to make up the difference with new disadvantages related to your illness or its cure (e.g., Chronic Pain, Dependency, Maintenance, or Susceptible). If the GM is running a one-shot adventure or short campaign, he should disallow this disadvantage as meaningless.

A Trademark is an action separate from capturing the crooks, committing the crime, etc. Destroying files on a computer is not a Trademark; trashing them by substituting a “7” for each “5” is.

Resistant (p. 80) that protects against a given item, you cannot also be Susceptible to that item. This trait can simulate many common health problems. Use Susceptible to Disease for a weak immune system, Susceptible to Ingested Poison for a tendency not to vomit up noxious substances (a “weak vomit reflex”), etc.

Terminally Ill 3

-50, -75, or -100 points

You are going to die . . . soon. This could be due to a nasty disease, a potent curse, an irremovable explosive device embedded in the base of your skull, or something else that will result in certain death. Point cost depends on how much time you have left: Time Until Death Up to one month Up to one year Up to two years

Cost -100 points -75 points -50 points


Timesickness 3

-10 points

Time travel, dimension travel, and teleportation make you ill. You cannot have psionic talents, magic spells, or technological skills that have to do with this kind of travel, nor can you learn the Body Sense skill. You must make a HT roll whenever you journey through time or across dimensions, and whenever you teleport. On a failure, you are effectively stunned for 1d hours (doubled on a critical failure!). On a success, you are only stunned for 1d¥10 minutes. Timesickness is only allowed if dimension travel, teleportation, or time travel occur regularly in the campaign. The GM may wish to permit a variation on this trait in settings with faster-than-light hyperdrives (“Hypersickness”) or jump drives (“Jump Sickness”).

Total Klutz see Klutz, p. 141

Trademark 2

-5 to -15 points

You have a special symbol – something that you leave at the scene of action, as a way of “signing your work.” The classic fictional example is the carved initial “Z” of Zorro. Simple: Your Trademark takes very little time to leave and cannot be used to trace your identity, but you absolutely must leave it. You cannot leave the scene until you do, even if your enemies are breaking down the door. A typical example is something left at the scene – a playing card, a small stuffed animal, etc. – as long as it can’t be traced and takes little time. -5 points. Complex: As above, but leaving your Trademark measurably increases your chances of being caught – initial carving, notes, traceable clues, etc. Leaving this sort of Trademark takes a

minimum of 30 seconds. Anyone searching the scene receives +2 to Criminology and Forensics rolls to trace or identify you. -10 points. Elaborate: Your trademark is so elaborate – dousing the captured thugs with a certain cologne, painting the entire crime scene pink, writing a long poem to the police – that it virtually ensures your eventual capture. The GM may give investigators clues without a successful Criminology or Forensics roll! -15 points. You may have only one Trademark. Multiple actions (e.g., binding your victims with purple phone wire, painting a frog on the wall, and wrecking every computer in the building) simply give you a higher level of Trademark – they are not multiple Trademarks. Note also that a Trademark is an action separate from capturing the crooks, committing the crime, etc. It’s the particular way that it is done. Destroying files on a computer is not a

Trademark; trashing them by substituting a “7” for each “5” is.

Trickster 2

-15 points*

You crave the excitement of outwitting dangerous foes. This is not ordinary practical joking. Playing simple tricks on innocent or harmless folk is no fun at all – it has to be perilous! There may be no need for this at all (in fact, there probably isn’t), but you need the thrill of a battle of wits and dexterity. Make a self-control roll each day. If you fail, you must try to trick a dangerous subject: a skilled warrior, a dangerous monster, a whole group of reasonably competent opponents, etc. If you resist, you get a cumulative -1 per day to your self-control roll until you finally fail a roll!

Truthfulness 2

-5 points*

You hate to tell a lie – or you are just very bad at it. Make a self-control roll whenever you must keep silent about an uncomfortable truth (lying by omission). Roll at -5 if you actually have to tell a falsehood! If you fail, you blurt out the truth, or stumble so much that your lie is obvious. You have a permanent -5 to Fast Talk skill, and your Acting skill is at -5 when your purpose is to deceive.

Uncontrollable Appetite 25

-15 points*

You consume something that you must obtain from other sapient beings through force or guile, and you have difficulty controlling your appetites. You must specify what it is you crave. This could be blood, “life force,” sex, or anything else the GM permits. Whenever you have an opportunity to indulge, you must make a self-control roll. Roll at -2 if someone deliberately tempts you, or if the item you feed on is available in large quantities within range of your senses. If feeding would restore lost HP, this roll is at -1 per missing HP. If you fail, you must feed. Make a second self-control roll to stop feeding once you have had your fill. If you fail, you go into frenzy and overindulge, which could kill your victim.



Unfit 3

-5 or -15 points

You have worse cardiovascular health than your HT alone would indicate. This comes in two levels: Unfit: You get -1 to all HT rolls to remain conscious, avoid death, resist disease or poison, etc. This does not reduce your HT attribute or HT-based skills! As well, you lose FP at twice the normal rate. -5 points. Very Unfit: As above, but the penalty to HT rolls is -2. In addition, you recover FP at only half the normal rate. You may not purchase any level of Resistant (p. 80). -15 points.

Depending on your nature, you might be able to regain lost HP and the use of crippled limbs unnaturally through surgery, repairs (if you’re a machine), or exotic means (healing spells, alchemy, psionics, etc.).

Unique 2 5

-5 points

You exist only in one timeline. If a time paradox occurs, you have no memory of it. If it is particularly severe, you are likely to vanish. In most settings, you would be unaware of this danger until it happened . . . and then nobody would even remember you! Thus, this disadvantage is usually inappropriate for PCs.

You have rotten luck. If the plot of the adventure calls for something bad to happen to someone, it’s you. The GM may not kill you outright with “bad luck,” but anything less than that is fine.

In both cases, this disadvantage applies only to FP lost to exertion, heat, etc. It has no effect on FP “spent” to power psi or magic spells.

Unhealing 3 1

-20 or -30 points

You cannot heal naturally. You get no daily HT roll to recover lost HP, and you cannot recuperate from crippling injuries on your own. The First Aid skill can stop your bleeding, but neither it nor the Physician skill can restore missing HP. Technologies that accelerate natural healing (including herbs, drugs, etc.) are useless. This trait comes in two levels: Partial: You can heal naturally if a rare condition is met (e.g., when you are immersed in blood or bathed in lava). You can also heal yourself by stealing HP from others using Vampiric Bite (p. 96), magic, or psionics. -20 points. Total: You can never heal naturally, and you cannot steal HP from others. -30 points.


In an alternate-world campaign, being Unique means that you do not exist in any form in an alternate world, even one very much like your own. This deprives you of the chance to befriend “yourself” when you visit such a world. There is one benefit, though: you are effectively Zeroed (p. 100) at no point cost in any alternate world. Unique is only a disadvantage in campaigns in which paradoxes or changes in history – erasing past events or whole timelines – are possible. See Temporal Inertia (p. 93) for the opposite of this trait.

Unluckiness 2

is fine. (For lethally bad luck, see Cursed, p. 129.) If you wish, you may specify a recurring “theme” for your Unluckiness – for instance, your weapons tend to break, you’re always 5 minutes late, or objects have a nasty habit of falling on your head. The GM should do his best to make your Unluckiness work this way. However, this is a characterization tool and not a hard-and-fast game mechanic. Bad luck can always manifest in other ways if the GM wants to keep you on your toes!

Unnatural Features see p. 22

Unusual Biochemistry 31

-5 points

You can subsist on human food, but your biochemistry is sufficiently different from that of humans that drugs intended for humans don’t work or have unpredictable effects. Drugs that are specific to your biochemistry work normally, but cost 10 times as much as usual. When you receive a drug intended for humans, roll 1d: 1-3 – Normal effect. 4-5 – Normal effect, plus an additional harmful effect of the GM’s choosing: lose 1d FP (sickness and nausea), suffer an amplified version of the drug’s usual negative side effects, etc. 6 – No effect at all.

Very Fat see p. 19

Very Unfit see Unfit, above

-10 points

You have rotten luck. Things go wrong for you – and usually at the worst possible time. Once per play session, the GM will arbitrarily and maliciously make something go wrong for you. You miss a vital die roll, or the enemy (against all odds) shows up at the worst possible time. If the plot of the adventure calls for something bad to happen to someone, it’s you. The GM may not kill you outright with “bad luck,” but anything less than that


Vow 2

-5 to -15 points

You have sworn an oath to do (or not to do) something. Whatever the oath, you take it seriously; if you didn’t, it would not be a disadvantage. This trait is especially appropriate for knights, holy men, and fanatics. The point value of a Vow should be directly related to the inconvenience it causes you. The GM is the final judge. Some examples:

Minor Vow: Silence during daylight hours; vegetarianism; chastity (yes, for game purposes, this is minor). -5 points. Major Vow: Use no edged weapons; keep silence at all times; never sleep indoors; own no more than your horse can carry. -10 points. Great Vow: Never refuse any request for aid; always fight with the wrong hand; hunt a given foe until you destroy him; challenge every knight you meet to combat. -15 points. Note that if you could represent your Vow using another disadvantage, you only get points for one of the two disadvantages (your choice). No one may get points for Vow (Poverty) and Wealth (Dead Broke), Vow (Never kill) and Pacifism (Cannot Kill), etc. Many Vows end after a specified period of time. You must buy off such a Vow when it ends. Vows for a period of less than a year are frivolous! If you want to end a Vow before its stated time, the GM may exact a penalty; for instance, in a medieval world, you might have to undertake a quest by way of penance.

Vulnerability 3 1


You take extra damage from a particular attack form. Whenever this type of attack hits you, the GM applies a special wounding multiplier to damage that penetrates your DR. Regular wounding multipliers (for cutting, impaling, etc.) further multiply the damage. Example: A werewolf with Vulnerability (Silver ¥4) is nicked with a silver knife for 1 point of cutting damage. The GM multiplies this by 4 for Vulnerability, giving 4 points of damage, and then multiplies by 1.5 for a cutting attack. The final injury is 6 HP. Point value depends on the wounding multiplier and the rarity of the attack:

Use the categories under Limited Defenses (p. 46) to assess rarity. The GM has the final say on the rarity of a given attack form. You may not take more than two types of Vulnerability without GM permission. You cannot have Vulnerability to anything against which you have a specific defense: Resistant, Damage Resistance limited to work only against that attack form, etc. You can have both Vulnerability and Supernatural Durability (p. 89), but this reduces the utility of Supernatural Durability.

Special Limitations Fatigue Only: You are vulnerable to an attack that drains FP instead of HP, or to some form of mundane fatigue loss (e.g., ¥2 FP from hot weather). -50%.

Weak Bite 3 1

Weakness 3 1


You suffer injury merely by being in the presence of a particular substance or condition (which cannot be a food item or something equally easy to avoid). This injury comes off your HP directly, regardless of your DR or defensive advantages. The more quickly you take damage, the more points your Weakness is worth: Frequency of Damage 1d per minute 1d per 5 minutes 1d per 30 minutes

Value -20 points -10 points -5 points

Multiply the base value to reflect the rarity of the damaging substance or condition:

Vulnerability Table Rarity of Attack Rare Occasional Common Very Common

-2 points

Your jaw is not structured to make full use of your strength while biting. Calculate biting damage normally, then apply an extra -2 per die. This trait is common for large herbivores (e.g., horses), uncommon for small herbivores and omnivores, and very rare for carnivores.

Wounding Multiplier ¥2 ¥3 ¥4 -10 points -15 points -20 points -20 points -30 points -40 points -30 points -45 points -60 points -40 points -60 points -80 points

Rare (e.g., exotic radiation or minerals): ¥1/2. Occasional (e.g., microwave radiation, intense normal cold, airborne pollen): ¥1.


Common (e.g., smoke, nearby magic, horses, loud noises): ¥2. Very Common (e.g., sunlight, living plants): ¥3. Example: An anaerobic organism takes 1d per minute from oxygen. The base value of a Weakness that inflicts 1d per minute is -20 points. Since oxygen is “Very Common,” final cost is -60 points. You may not take more than two types of Weakness without GM permission.

Special Limitations Fatigue Only: Your Weakness drains FP instead of HP. -50%. Variable: Your Weakness is sensitive to received intensity. You may specify one relatively common class of barriers that halves the rate at which you take damage (e.g., heavy clothing or sunscreen, for sunlight). On the other hand, intense sources (GM’s decision) double the rate at which you suffer harm! -40%.

Wealth see p. 25 Below-average levels of Wealth are a disadvantage; be sure to note them on your character sheet.

Weirdness Magnet 2 5

-15 points

Strange and bizarre things happen to you with alarming frequency. You are the one demons stop and chat with. Magic items with disturbing properties find their way to you. The only talking dog on 21st-century Earth comes to you with his problems. Dimensional gates sealed for centuries crack open just so that you can be bathed in the energies released . . . or perhaps the entities on the other side invite you to tea. Nothing lethal happens to you, at least not immediately, and occasionally some weirdness is beneficial. But most of the time it is terribly, terribly inconvenient. People who understand what a Weirdness Magnet is (and that you are one) react to you at -2. The exceptions are parapsychologists, fringe cultists, unhinged conspiracy theorists, and thrill-seekers, who follow you around!


Workaholic 2

-5 points

You tend to drive yourself past your limits, and find it hard to relax and turn away from your work. You always work at least half again as long as a normal working day. This often results in missed sleep (see Missed Sleep, p. 426). Most people regard you with respect at first (+1 to reaction rolls), but you eventually suffer -1 or -2 to reactions – especially from friends and loved ones who rarely get to spend time with you.

Wounded 3

-5 points

You have an open wound that will not completely heal, for whatever reason (botched surgery, backfired healing spell, etc.). You are not missing any HP, but your wound serves as a path for infection and toxins, and may complicate new injuries. A foe who knows about your wound may deliberately target it, at -7 to hit. Such attacks have a wounding multiplier of 1.5 (that is, you take 50% more damage). Blood agents that reach your wound affect you as if carried on a weapon that broke your skin. You must carefully dress your wound each day (requires a First Aid or Physician roll) or get -3 to all HT rolls to resist infection in a plague-ridden area. At the GM’s option, you may acquire a wound like this in play due to torture, scalping, etc. Certain wounds have other effects; for instance, scalping would cost you a level of appearance.

Example of Character Creation (cont’d) Dai believes he can steal anything and escape any situation. He definitely suffers from Overconfidence (p. 148)! This trait is worth “-5 points*.” The “*” indicates a trait that requires a self-control number. To avoid crippling Dai, we decide that he can set his attitude aside to weigh risks “quite often,” or on a 12 or less. Overconfidence (12) is worth the listed cost: -5 points. To play up Dai’s twitchy, catlike side, we decide that because of his high Perception and Danger Sense, almost any little disturbance wakes him up. This gives him Light Sleeper (p. 142), for -5 points. Finally, since an overconfident thief isn’t a typical team player, Dai needs a reason to stay with ISWAT. We decide that he has come to see those in his squad as a replacement for the “family” slain by the Thieves’ Guild. Although he’d never admit it, he would die rather than let anything bad happen to this family. We represent this with a Sense of Duty (p. 153) to his squad – a small group – for -5 points. These disadvantages come to -15 points. This lowers Dai’s running point total to 208 points. Note that when we looked at Dai’s wealth and influence, we chose Duty (ISWAT; 15 or less; Extremely Hazardous) and Wealth (Poor) – another -35 points of disadvantages. And Dai also got -20 points for ST 8 and -6 points for FP 10. In a campaign with a disadvantage limit, the entire -76 points from these traits would count against the limit.

Xenophilia 2

-10 points*

You are instinctively fascinated and attracted by strangers and aliens, no matter how dangerous or frightening they appear to be. Make a self-control roll whenever you meet someone (or something) like this. If you fail, you assume that this person is interested in interacting with you socially. A xenophile finds himself offering drinks to glaring foreign soldiers, making passes at cute vampires, and shaking tentacles with Things

Man Was Not Meant To Know while his companions are pointing weapons or running the other way . . . As partial compensation, you get a bonus to Fright Checks when meeting strange creatures Self-Control Number 6 9 12 15

Bonus +4 +3 +2 +1

NPCs with this trait will react to exotic PCs at a similar bonus.

QUIRKS A “quirk” is a minor feature that sets you aside from others. It has a negative point value, but it is not necessarily a disadvantage. For instance, a major trait like Greed is a disadvantage. But if you insist on being paid in gold, that’s a quirk. You may take up to five quirks at -1 point apiece . . . and if you do, you will have five more points to spend. You can also “buy off” a quirk later


on by paying 1 point, but as a rule, you shouldn’t do that. Quirks might have a small cost, but they are a big part of what makes a character seem “real”! Quirks can be either mental or physical. This distinction implies for quirks exactly what it implies for advantages and disadvantages.


MENTAL QUIRKS Mental quirks are minor personality traits. They are a contract between you and the GM: “I agree to roleplay these character foibles. In return, you agree to give me a few extra points to spend.” However, you must roleplay them. If you take the quirk “Dislikes heights,” but blithely climb trees and cliffs whenever you need to, the GM

will penalize you for bad roleplaying. The points you lose this way will cost you much more than you earned for taking the quirk. So don’t choose a quirk you aren’t willing to roleplay! This doesn’t mean the GM should be inflexible about mental quirks. A player should be allowed to change a quirk if something happens during play to justify a noticeable change in his character’s personality. The GM should also allow players to leave a few of their five “quirk slots” open during character creation and fill them in after the first couple of play sessions. The most interesting quirks often emerge as the result of roleplaying! To qualify as a mental quirk, a personality trait must meet one of two criteria: • It requires a specific action, behavior, or choice on your part from time to time. This need not take hours, or be especially inconvenient, but it must be something that you can act

out in the course of the game; it cannot be totally passive. • It gives you a small penalty very occasionally, or to a narrow set of actions. Negotiate the game effects with the GM. You may take almost any mundane mental disadvantage at quirk level, in which case the rules for that disadvantage are used as guidelines, although the effects will be much less severe. Example: “Wears black” is not a valid quirk – it is completely passive, and there are no negative side effects. “Dresses like the stereotypical necromancer” is a permissible quirk if the player and GM agree that it gives -1 to reactions from unusually pious folk.

Attentive You tend to stick to one task until it’s done. You get a +1 bonus when working on lengthy tasks, but -3 to notice any important interruption!


Broad-Minded A trivial form of Xenophilia (p. 162). You get along well with other races and species, and strange looks rarely bother you.

Careful A quirk-level version of Cowardice (p. 129). You are naturally cautious, always on the lookout for danger. You dedicate extra time and money to preparations before venturing into a dangerous situation.

Chauvinistic An extremely low level of Intolerance (p. 140). You are always aware of differences in sex, skin color, etc. even if you do not actually react poorly to others. Thin-skinned individuals might occasionally react to you at -1 as a result.

Code of Honor You may take a minor Code of Honor (p. 127) as a quirk. For instance, you might insist on exhibiting “gentlemanly” behavior toward all females, or spurning “chauvinistic” behavior from all males.




This is a milder version of Chummy (p. 126). You like company and you work well with others. You always choose group action over individual action.

You are inept at one specific skill. You cannot learn that skill, and your default is at an extra -4. You cannot be incompetent in a single specialty of a skill; if you are incompetent with Guns, for instance, you are incompetent with all guns. The GM may disallow Incompetence if the skill would be irrelevant to a given character, or is unlikely to play a role in the campaign.

Delusions You may take a completely trivial Delusion (p. 130) as a quirk. This does not affect your everyday behavior, and is unlikely to be noticed by casual acquaintances, but you must believe it! Examples: “The Earth is flat.” “The Pentagon controls the Boy Scouts and the health food stores.” “Socks cause diseases of the feet.”

Dislikes You can have any of the Phobias on p. 148 at the level of a mere “dislike.” If you dislike something, you must avoid it whenever possible, but it does not actually harm you as a Phobia would. Dislikes don’t have to be watered-down Phobias. There is a whole world full of things to dislike: carrots, cats, neckties, violence, telephones, telephone solicitors, income tax . . .

Distractible Quirk-level Short Attention Span (p. 153). You are easily distracted, and don’t do well on long-term projects. You are at -1 when rolling to accomplish long tasks.

Likes If you like something, you will seek it out whenever possible. Gadgets, kittens, shiny knives, ceramic owls, fine art . . . whatever. This is not a compulsion – just a preference.

Minor Addiction You may take Addiction (p. 122) as a quirk, if you are addicted to a drug that causes psychological dependency and works out to 0 points under the Addiction rules.

Nosy A lesser version of Curious (p. 129). You are always poking your nose into corners and everyone else’s business (which is likely to result in a small reaction penalty once in a while).

Obsessions You may take an almost-rational and not especially unusual Obsession (p. 146) as a quirk, to reflect a minor


goal. For instance, you hope to get just enough money to buy a farm (or boat, or spaceship, or castle) of your own.

Personality Change This is quirk-level Split Personality (p. 156). You suffer from a full-blown mental disadvantage, but only in circ*mstances that are normally under your control; e.g., Bully when you drink too much, or Pyromania when you cast your Create Fire spell.

Proud This is Selfish (p. 153) at quirk level. Individual success, wealth, or social standing concerns you greatly. NPCs with this quirk react at -1 to orders, insults, or social slights.

Responsive A mild case of Charitable (p. 125). You are able to imagine the feelings and motivations of others – and all other things being equal, you are inclined to help them.

Staid You may take this very low level of Incurious (p. 140) as a quirk. You are likely to ignore matters that don’t immediately affect you.

Trademark A quirk-level Trademark (p. 159) takes almost no time to leave, cannot be used to trace your identity, and can be overlooked when inconvenient.

You have a -1 on any long task, because you tend to spend time thinking of better ways to do it, rather than working.

Dull You are not quite Hidebound (p. 138), but you tend to stick with tried and true methods.

Habits or Expressions Saying “Jehoshaphat!” or “Bless my collar-button” constantly. . . or carrying a silver piece that you flip into the air . . . or never sitting with your back to the door.

Humble A weak form of Selfless (p. 153). You tend to put the concerns of others, or of the group, before your own.

Imaginative You are a font of ideas, and are more than willing to share them with others! They may or may not be good ideas, of course . . .


Example of Character Creation (cont’d) Now it’s time to define Dai’s quirks – five minor character traits that help to define his personality. We choose the following: 1. “Dislikes deep water.” Thieves’ Guild enforcers threw the young Dai off a pier, and he nearly drowned. To this day, he is leery of deep water. 2. “Loves high places.” Given Dai’s gifts, he can get to some very high places indeed. When he cases a joint, he always wants a view from the top. 3. “No drugs or alcohol.” Dai is no Puritan, but growing up on the streets he saw too many people destroy themselves that way. 4. “Sensitive about his height.” Dai is self-assured, but he cannot deny one physical shortcoming: he isn’t very tall. This is a topic best avoided in conversation . . . 5. “Showoff.” Dai isn’t quietly overconfident. He has more than his fair share of natural talents, and is all too happy to demonstrate them. Dai’s quirks are worth -1 point apiece, or -5 points total. As a result, his point total becomes 203 points.




A lesser version of Loner (p. 142). You prefer to be alone. You always choose individual action over group action.

You are bowlegged. This doesn’t normally affect Move, but you have -1 to Jumping skill. This quirk may elicit a -1 reaction from those who think it looks funny.

Vow A trivial Vow (p. 160) – e.g., never drink alcohol, treat all ladies with courtesy, or pay 10% of your income to your church – is a quirk.

Cannot Float


Distinctive Features

Physical quirks are physical disadvantages that are only mildly or rarely limiting. They do not require roleplaying, but they give specific, minor penalties in play. Unlike mental quirks, you cannot normally change physical quirks – that would make no more sense than exchanging One Eye for One Hand, under most circ*mstances. Also, you must define physical quirks when you create your character; you cannot use them to fill open “quirk slots” once the campaign begins.

You always sink in water. This is most applicable to machines, but it might also afflict fantasy races or result from a curse. You have a physical feature – e.g., “Brilliant blue hair” – that makes you stand out in a crowd. This gives -1 to your Disguise and Shadowing skills, and +1 to others’ attempts to identify or follow you. Some Distinctive Features may stem from full-blown disadvantages. For instance, an albino (someone with no natural body pigment, resulting in pink eyes and pinkwhite hair and skin) would also have Weakness (Sunlight). Compare Supernatural Features (p. 157) and Unnatural Features (p. 22).

Horrible Hangovers

You are susceptible to the bad effects of extreme acceleration, and get -3 to HT rolls to avoid them.

You suffer an additional -3 to any penalties the GM assesses for excessive drinking the previous evening, and add three hours to hangover duration.

Alcohol Intolerance

Minor Addiction

Acceleration Weakness

Alcohol “goes right to your head.” You become intoxicated much more quickly than normal. You get -2 on any HT roll related to drinking.

You may take Addiction (p. 122) as a quirk, if you are addicted to a drug that causes physiological dependency

and works out to 0 points under the Addiction rules.

Minor Handicaps You may take most mundane physical disadvantages at quirk level; for instance, you could use a watereddown version of Lame for a “bum knee.” Difficulties rarely crop up, but are genuinely inconvenient when they do. If you have this kind of handicap, the GM may give you -1 to attribute, skill, or reaction rolls, as appropriate, in situations where it would logically interfere.

Nervous Stomach You have -3 to HT rolls to avoid illness (typically in the form of attribute penalties or vomiting) brought on by rich or spicy food, strong drink, etc.

Neutered or Sexless You are missing sex organs that someone of your race, sex, and age would normally possess – or perhaps you are a genuinely sexless being that only looks like someone of a particular race and sex. This might qualify you for reduced appearance, Social Stigma, or Unnatural Features in some settings. However, there are minor benefits: you are immune to seduction and will never accidentally become a parent. This is more than simple sterility (which is a feature worth 0 points).

NEW DISADVANTAGES The GM is welcome to develop new disadvantages. The guidelines given under New Advantages (p. 117) apply here as well – but note that it is easier to abuse disadvantages than advantages. A badly designed advantage might be too powerful, but it costs points, so it isn’t a free lunch. On the other hand, a disadvantage that does not restrict the character gives away points. It is a free lunch! Remember the “golden rule” of disadvantage design: A “disadvantage” that does not limit the character is not a disadvantage.

MODIFYING EXISTING DISADVANTAGES You can turn existing disadvantages into new ones using the processes recommended for advantages: rename, redefine, combine, modify, and finetune. For instance, you could combine the modified disadvantage Weakness (Sunlight; 1d/30 minutes; Variable, -40%) [-9] with the quirk Distinctive Features [-1] and rename it “Albinism,” giving you a new disadvantage worth -10 points. There are a few additional


points to note when doing this kind of thing. Some existing disadvantages are essentially “user-defined.” This property makes them particularly useful for building “new” disadvantages. The most versatile traits of this kind are Addiction, Code of Honor, Compulsive Behavior, Delusions, Dependency, Destiny, Disciplines of Faith, Dread, Fanaticism, Increased Life Support, Intolerance, Maintenance, Obsession, Odious Personal Habits, Phobias, Restricted Diet, Revulsion, Sense of Duty, Susceptible, Unnatural Features, Vows, Vulnerability, and Weakness.


Price a blanket penalty to an entire group of related skills exactly as if you were pricing a Talent (p. 89), but with minus sign in front of the cost. This makes a penalty to a group of skills a far more serious disadvantage than a penalty to one skill. This reflects the fact that it is difficult to work around ineptitude with every skill in a large, useful category. 3. Penalties to reaction rolls. Reaction penalties use the Reputation rules on p. 26. As explained for new advantages, these modifiers need not be actual Reputations – they could as easily be due to looks, a supernatural aura, etc. 4. Unique disabilities. You can only price unique disadvantages by comparison. Look at comparable disadvantages in the system and assign a similar point value, and then adjust it if the new disadvantage is more or less limiting than the existing one.

Finalizing the Cost When combining multiple disadvantages to create new ones, remember that advantages can be added to the mix, reducing the value of the composite disadvantage. For instance, a positive Reputation can be associated with a “good” personality trait (such as Honesty or Sense of Duty) that is considered a disadvantage in GURPS because it restricts the hero’s choice of actions. If the restrictions outweigh the reaction bonus, the overall trait is still a disadvantage. Finally, when you apply limitations (pp. 110-116) to a disadvantage, remember that they reduce the points gained from the disadvantage. For instance, if you apply an Accessibility limitation worth -40% to a -15-point disadvantage, it becomes a -9-point disadvantage. See the “special limitations” throughout this chapter for examples of suitable limitations. (A few disadvantages have special enhancements that increase disadvantage value, but these are less common.)

BRAND-NEW PROBLEMS The guidelines for creating totally new disadvantages are similar to those


for designing entirely new advantages (p. 118): 1. Situational penalties to attributes. Assume that each -1 to an attribute is worth a basic -10 points for ST or HT, or -20 points for DX or IQ, and then reduce the final cost to reflect the limited circ*mstances under which the penalty applies. For instance, Susceptible to Poison (-2) is -2 to HT (base cost -20 points), reduced to 40% its normal value because it applies only to rolls to resist poison – which are common enough but still a specialized use of HT – for a net value of -8 points. 2. Penalties to skill rolls. Handle skill penalties using the Incompetence quirk (p. 164). This gives -1 point for each -4 to a specific skill. These skill penalties are not symmetrical with the skill bonuses given on p. 118. This is intentional! It reflects the reality that most players select skills for which their characters have an aptitude and ignore those at which their characters are inept. The Incompetence penalty can be changed to -3 or -5 without much effect on game balance, but it must apply to a reasonably common skill to be worth points at all.


The final cost of a disadvantage equals the sum of the costs of its component parts, modified for rarity as the GM sees fit. A rare disadvantage is sometimes worth more points because it is less likely to be treatable, or because it is more likely to generate shock and disgust on a bad reaction roll. A common disadvantage may be worth fewer points by the same logic – that is, it is easy to circumvent using technology, or its social ramifications are mitigated by others’ indifference. In general, though, the point value of a disadvantage won’t be that of the “opposite” advantage with a minus sign in front. This is mainly because most traits in GURPS are asymmetric, skewed toward the human norm and biased toward adventuring heroes. For instance, One Arm is a serious disadvantage worth -20 points because having only one arm severely limits skill use, while Extra Arms are a mere 10 points apiece because additional arms rarely benefit most skills. It is also important to realize that for adventurers, there are many qualities where either extreme is an effective disadvantage (for instance, Curious and Incurious) or advantage (consider Common Sense and Daredevil).


SKILLS A “skill” is a particular kind of knowledge; for instance, judo, physics, auto mechanics, or a death spell. Every skill is separate, though some skills help you to learn others. Just as in real life, you start your career with some skills and can learn more if you spend time training. A number called “skill level” measures your ability with each of your skills: the higher the number, the greater your skill. For instance, “Shortsword-17” means a skill level of 17 with the shortsword. When you try to do something, you (or the GM) roll 3d against the appropriate skill, modified for that particular situation. If the number you roll is less than or equal to your modified score for that skill, you succeed! But a roll of 17 or 18 is an automatic failure. For more on skill rolls, modifiers, success, and failure, see Chapter 10. Each skill is qualified in several ways to indicate what basic attribute represents talent with that skill, how easy the skill is to learn, any special restrictions on who can learn the skill, and whether the skill is broad or narrow in focus.

CONTROLLING ATTRIBUTE Each skill is based on one of the four basic attributes or, more rarely, on Perception or Will. Your skill level is calculated directly from this “controlling attribute”: the higher your attribute score, the more effective you are with every skill based on it! If your character concept calls for many skills based on a given attribute, you should consider starting with a high level in that attribute, as this will be most cost-effective in the long run.

Choosing Your Beginning Skills Like attributes and advantages, skills cost points. You should spend at least a few of your starting character points on skills. It would be extraordinarily unusual for anyone – even a young child – to have no skills at all! Your starting skills must suit your background. The greater your Wealth and Status, the more leeway the GM will allow you in skill choice – the rich and powerful can arrange to learn the most surprising things. You cannot start with inappropriate skills, however. The GM is free to forbid any skill that simply would not be available to someone of your background. For instance, a stone-age hunter could not be a jet pilot, a Victorian gentleman would need an excellent explanation (and an Unusual Background) to start out as a skilled sorcerer, and a futuristic adventurer would have difficulty finding training in “archaic” weapon skills . . . though a military background would help.



ST-based skills depend wholly on brawn, and are very rare. ST determines the power you can bring to bear with DX-based skills far more often than it affects skill levels directly. DX-based skills rely on coordination, reflexes, and steady hands. This is representative of athletic and combat skills, and most vehicle-operation skills. IQ-based skills require knowledge, creativity, and reasoning ability. This includes all artistic, scientific, and social skills, as well as magic spells. HT-based skills are governed by physical fitness. This includes any activity influenced by hygiene, posture, or lung capacity. Perception-based skills involve spotting subtle differences. This is typical of skills used to detect clues and hidden objects. Will-based skills hinge on mental focus and clarity of thought. Most allow one to resist mental attacks, bring about an altered mental state, or focus “inner strength.”

DIFFICULTY LEVEL Some fields demand more study and practice than others. GURPS uses four “difficulty levels” to rate the effort required to learn and improve a skill. The more difficult the skill, the more points you must spend to buy it at a given skill level. Easy skills are things that anyone could do reasonably well after a short learning period – whether because they are second nature to most people or because there isn’t a whole lot to learn. Average skills include most combat skills, mundane job skills, and the practical social and survival skills that ordinary people use daily. This is the most common difficulty level. Hard skills require intensive formal study. This is typical of most “academic” skills, complex athletic and combat skills that require years of training, and all but the most powerful of magic spells. Very Hard skills have prodigious scope, or are alien, counterintuitive, or deliberately shrouded in secrecy. The most fundamental of sciences, and many potent magic spells and secret martial-arts techniques, are Very Hard.


TECHNOLOGICAL SKILLS Certain skills are different at each tech level (see Technology Level, p. 22). These “technological skills” are designated by “/TL.” This means that when you learn the skill, you must learn it at a specific tech level (TL). Always note the TL when you write down such a skill; e.g., “Surgery/TL4” for the TL4 version of Surgery skill. Surgery/TL4 (cut his arm off with an axe) is nothing like Surgery/TL9 (graft on a replacement arm from his clone)!

You learn technological skills at your personal TL. You may also choose skills from a lower TL. You can only learn skills from a higher TL in play – and only if you have a teacher and the skill is not based on IQ. To learn IQ-based technological skills from a higher TL, you must first raise your personal TL. Technological skills rely on language, tool use, or both. This means that only sapient characters – those with IQ 6 or higher – may learn them. Exception: Robots and the like can have IQ 5 or less and perform such skills by running programs . . . but of course programming isn’t learning.

Tech-Level Modifiers Technological skills work best with the specific artifacts and techniques of their own TL. When you work with equipment or concepts of a TL different from that of your skill, you suffer a penalty to your skill roll.

IQ-Based Technological Skills IQ-based technological skills represent a studied technical understanding of the specific methods and tools common at a particular TL. There is a penalty to your skill roll when you use these skills with the equipment of a higher TL (which relies on scientific and engineering principles unknown to you) or a lower TL (which depends on principles that were, at best, a “historical footnote” during your training). Equipment’s TL Skill’s TL+4 or more Skill’s TL+3 Skill’s TL+2 Skill’s TL+1 Skill’s TL Skill’s TL-1 Skill’s TL-2 Skill’s TL-3 Skill’s TL-4 Per extra -1 to TL

Skill Penalty Impossible! -15 -10 -5 0 -1 -3 -5 -7 -2

Other Technological Skills Technological skills based on attributes other than IQ let you use technology; they do not assume any real understanding of the science or engineering behind the tools. For instance, a TL5 gunslinger accustomed to firing a Colt Peacemaker might find a TL7 Colt Python a bit strange, but he would have little difficulty shooting it. For skills like this, apply a flat penalty of -1 per TL of difference between the skill and the equipment. For instance, a TL5 gunman would be at -2 to shoot a TL7 revolver. It is irrelevant whether the equipment is more or less advanced – a TL7 policeman would be at -2 to fire a TL5 revolver, too.


(see Skill Defaults, p. 173), which may let you purchase additional specialties more cheaply.

Grouped Skills A set of distantly related skills that use identical rules may appear under a single heading to avoid repetition. If a skill description does not say that you must specialize, and indicates that it represents a collection of skills, then the subentries represent stand-alone skills – not specialties. Use only the name of the relevant subentry when you refer to such skills. Example: Hand-to-hand weapon skills are grouped under Melee Weapon (p. 208), but if you learn to use a shortsword, write “Shortsword,” not “Melee Weapon (Shortsword).”

PREREQUISITES Some skills have other skills as prerequisites. This is the case when an advanced skill is based on, and in some ways an outgrowth of, a basic one. To study the advanced skill, you must have at least one point in the prerequisite skill. Certain skills also require that you know a prerequisite skill at a minimum skill level. Where this is the case, you must spend the points required to learn the prerequisite skill at the specified level before you can learn the advanced skill. A few skills have advantages as prerequisites. In order to learn such a skill, you must possess the required advantage. If you do not have the advantage, and cannot acquire it in play, you can never learn that skill.

SPECIALTIES An entry on the skill list may represent an entire category of closely related skills that share a single skill name. Examples include Armoury (p. 178) and Survival (p. 223). Skills like this are marked with a dagger (†) in the list on pp. 174-228. The skills within such a category are called “specialties.” When you buy a general skill of this kind, you must specify which specialty you are learning. On your character sheet, note the name of the specialty in parentheses after the general skill name; e.g., “Armoury (Small Arms)” or “Survival (Arctic).” You may learn skills like this any number of times, with a different specialty each time, because each specialty is a different skill. There is usually a favorable “default” between specialties

Optional Specialties Many IQ-based skills – notably “academic” skills such as Literature and Physics – have countless subfields but do not require you to select a specialty. As written, if you learn a skill like this, you are a generalist, knowledgeable about every aspect of the skill. However, you may opt to specialize in a single, narrow area. You may only do this with an Average or harder IQ-based skill, and only if the GM agrees that the chosen subfield is logical given the skill and your TL.

Familiarity Any skill used to operate equipment – e.g., Beam Weapons/TL11 (Pistol) or Driving/TL7 (Automobile) – takes a penalty when you are faced with an unfamiliar type of item. For instance, if you were trained on a laser pistol, a blaster pistol would be “unfamiliar.” Assume that an unfamiliar piece of equipment gives -2 to skill except where an individual skill description specifies otherwise. In general, if you have the skill to use a piece of equipment, you are considered familiar with a new make or model after you have had eight hours of practice with it. Some skills require more or less practice than this, so be sure to read the skill description. There is no limit to the number of types of gun, car, plane, etc. you can become familiar with. Each of these items is called a “familiarity.” If you have at least six familiarities for a given skill, the GM may roll against your skill when you pick up a new piece of equipment. On a success, you are already familiar with something similar and may use the new device at no penalty. The GM may also rule that a new item is so similar to a known one that it is familiar – for instance, two similar models of Colt revolver should be considered identical. Equipment from another tech level will usually be unfamiliar. This gives both TL and familiarity modifiers. Practice can eliminate unfamiliarity penalties, but to shed TL penalties, you must relearn the operation skill at the equipment’s TL. Exception: Improved or obsolete versions of items with which you are already familiar do not give unfamiliarity penalties.

Familiarity for Beginning Characters Starting characters may specify two familiarities per point spent on a skill. For instance, if you have four points in Guns (Pistol), you can be familiar with up to eight handguns. Both specialization and familiarity come into play with many skills, but they are not the same thing. Driving (Automobile) is a specialty of Driving: it is a separate skill from Driving (Locomotive), and to know both, you must pay points for both. “Volkswagen Bug” is a familiarity of Driving (Automobile): you can select it for free as one of your starting familiarities.



When you choose an optional specialty, write down the skill and its specialty just as if you were selecting a required specialty. You learn the specialized skill as if it were one level easier. Unless otherwise noted, prerequisites are unchanged. The general skill defaults to the specialized one at -2;

roll against this whenever you must answer questions outside your field. Any skill that defaults to the general skill also defaults to all of its optional specialties, but at an additional -2. Example: Chemistry is IQ/Hard and does not require a specialty. You

could learn the optional specialty Chemistry (Analytical) as if it were one level easier, or IQ/Average. Your general Chemistry skill would default to Chemistry (Analytical)-2. Metallurgy, which normally defaults to Chemistry-5, would default to Chemistry (Analytical)-7.

BUYING SKILLS In order to learn or improve a skill, you must spend character points. When you spend points on a skill, you are getting training to bring that skill up to a useful level. Skills are easy to learn at first – a little training goes a long way! But added improvement costs more. The point cost of a skill depends on two things: its difficulty and the final skill level you wish to attain. Use the Skill Cost Table (below) to calculate a skill’s point cost. The first column shows the skill level you are trying to attain, relative to the skill’s controlling attribute – DX for DX-based skills, IQ for IQ-based skills, and so forth. For instance, if your DX were 12, a level of “Attribute-1” would be DX-1, or 11; “Attribute+0” would be DX, or 12; and “Attribute+1” would be DX+1, or 13. The next four columns show the character point costs to learn skills of different difficulties – Easy, Average, Hard, and Very Hard – at the desired skill level. Harder skills cost more points to learn! Example: A warrior with DX 14 wishes to learn Shortsword (DX/Average) at level 17. Since skill 17 is equal to his DX+3, he goes to the “Attribute+3” row. Then he reads along the row to the “Average” column to find the point cost: 12 points.

Skill Notation When you write down a skill with a single specialty, either required or optional, do so in the form “Skill Name (Specialty)”; e.g., Artist (Painting). If such a skill has multiple qualifiers, follow these guidelines: Technological skills: Place the tech level after the skill name and before the specialty; e.g., Engineer/TL8 (Civil). Skills with both required and optional specialties: If a skill that requires you to specialize also allows an optional specialty, write the required specialty before the optional specialty and separate the two with a comma; e.g., Artist (Painting, Oil). Skills that require two specialties: In the rare case where a skill requires you to select two specialties, separate them with a slash; e.g., Geography/TL7 (Physical/Earth-like).

There is no limit (except lifespan) to the amount of improvement possible with any skill. However, the useful maximum for most skills is between 20 and 30. Problems to challenge a greater skill are rare!

IMPROVING YOUR SKILLS There are two direct ways to increase your skills in play: spend the bonus points you earn for successful

Skill Cost Table Your Final Skill Level Attribute-3 Attribute-2 Attribute-1 Attribute+0 Attribute+1 Attribute+2 Attribute+3 Attribute+4 Attribute+5 Extra +1


Easy – – – 1 2 4 8 12 16 +4

Difficulty of Skill Average Hard – – – 1 1 2 2 4 4 8 8 12 12 16 16 20 20 24 +4 +4

Very Hard 1 2 4 8 12 16 20 24 28 +4


adventuring on new or better skills, or dedicate game time to study, which gives you points you can use to add or improve the skills you studied. In either case, the cost to improve a skill is the difference between the cost of the desired skill level and the cost of your current skill level. For more information, see Chapter 9.

Free Increases in Skills There is one way to increase many skills at once: pay the points to improve an attribute (see Chapter 9). If you do this, all your skills based on that attribute go up by the same amount, at no extra cost. For instance, if you raise DX by one level, all of your DX-based skills also go up by one level. Further improvements are based on the new DX value. You can also base skills on “defaults” from other skills; see Defaulting to Other Skills (p. 173). Any skill bought up from such a default is likely to enjoy a free increase when you raise the skill to which it defaults.

MEANING So you have Literature-9, SavoirFaire-22, and Shortsword-13. What does that mean? What is good, bad, and average? That’s very important when you create a character. It’s also important if you’re converting characters from another system into GURPS, or vice versa. There are two equally valid – but different – ways to make skill-level comparisons.



Base Skill vs. Effective Skill

this bonus at mundane tasks, even if they are working from default skill!

Your unmodified skill level is called your base skill. It measures your odds of success at an “average” task under adventuring conditions – in other words, in a stressful situation where the consequences of failure are significant. Some examples:

Your base skill measures your odds of success at an “average” task in a stressful situation where the consequences of failure are significant.



The easiest way to get a feel for your skill levels is to look at your odds of success. To use a skill, you must roll 3d against your skill level. This is called a “success roll” (see Chapter 10). For instance, if your skill is 13, you must roll 13 or less on 3d to succeed. The table below shows the probability of success at each skill level – that is, your chance of rolling less than or equal to a given number on 3d. Note that skill levels can be over 18, but a roll of 17 or 18 is automatically a failure. Nobody succeeds 100% of the time!

Skill Level 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Probability of Success 0.5% 1.9% 4.6% 9.3% 16.2% 25.9% 37.5%

• Battles and chase scenes. • Races against the clock. • Situations where your health, freedom, finances, or equipment is at risk. The GM may modify your skill level to reflect the difficulty of a task. Your final skill level, after applying all modifiers for the task at hand, is your effective skill for that task. In nonadventuring situations when you have lots of time to prepare and face minimal risk, the GM may give you +4 or more to skill. (The GM might even declare such actions successful instead of wasting time on a skill roll; see When to Roll, p. 343). Ordinary people almost always receive

Skill Level 10 11 12 13 14 15 16+

Probability of Success 50.0% 62.5% 74.1% 83.8% 90.7% 95.4% 98.1%


Example: An airline pilot has Piloting-12 – normally a 74% chance of success. For day-to-day flying, however, he rolls at +4. This makes his effective skill 16, for a 98% chance of success. On the other hand, especially tough adventuring situations can result in penalties. See Culture (p. 23), Language (p. 23), Tech-Level Modifiers (p. 168), Familiarity (p. 169), Equipment Modifiers (p. 345), and Task Difficulty (p. 345) for some common modifiers. Be sure to take these factors into account when buying your skills.

RELATIVE SKILL LEVEL Skill level reflects a combination of talent and training. For instance, a DX 17 warrior has a lot of raw talent. He could quickly learn Shortsword-17, as this is only DX level for him. A DX 10 fighter would need considerably more practice to become that skilled, as Shortsword-17 is DX+7 level for him. Such details are often unimportant; two warriors with Shortsword-17 are equally good at smiting foes, regardless of whether their skill is due to talent or training. However, there are times when you need (or want) to know the difference. It is easy to compare talent – just look at the controlling attribute for the skill. In the example above, the DX 17 swordsman is clearly more talented than the DX 10 fighter. To compare training, you must look at relative skill level. You can calculate it quickly by subtracting controlling attribute from skill level. In our example, the DX 17 warrior has a relative skill level of 0, while the DX 10 fighter has a relative skill level of +7, and is better trained. Relative skill level becomes important when using the next two rules; therefore, you might opt to note it in parentheses after your skill level; e.g., “Shortsword-17 (+7).”


Choosing Your Skill Levels Gauging what skill levels you need to survive is no easy task. Determining how much skill is realistic can be tricky as well. When creating a PC (or an NPC), bear the following guidelines in mind.

Ordinary Folks For an “average” person, it is reasonable to assume attributes between 9 and 11, and from 20 to 40 points in “life skills” (varying with education and dedication). Most people spread these points fairly evenly over roughly a dozen skills. This will result in skill levels between 8 and 13. Skills used to earn a living tend toward the upper end of this range (12 or 13), while little-used skills and those originating from long-forgotten college courses are at the lower end (8 or 9).

Experts Once your skill level reaches 14, additional levels of skill don’t improve your odds of success much. Furthermore, it can cost a lot of points to acquire higher skill levels. If you are an adventurer, though, the investment is worthwhile, to help you overcome the penalties for difficult tasks. For instance, if you have Lockpicking-23, ordinary locks are no easier for you – you fail on a 17 or 18, no matter what. But when you run into a hard lock that gives -6 to skill, your effective skill is 17 and you still only fail on a 17 or 18!

Masters If you are a “master” in your field, you might be tempted to increase your skill levels ad infinitum. However, a true master has a detailed understanding of every aspect of his calling, best represented by stopping at a masterful level (20 to 25) in the “main” skill and branching out into several “subsidiary” skills. An extreme level (anything over 25) in one skill tends to be excessive and unbelievable – and is frequently less useful than a lesser level combined with one or more subsidiary skills. Example: Instead of improving Karate skill to 30, a kung fu master would be better off using those points to buy Karate at 25 and decent levels of Acrobatics, Judo, Meditation, etc. Masters should also consider putting some points into advantages that negate skill penalties for adverse conditions. For instance, a kung fu master might buy Trained By A Master (reducing his penalties for multiple attacks and parries) and Combat Reflexes (improving his chances of defending himself), extending his capabilities in ways that high skill alone cannot. To encourage players to develop their characters laterally instead of sinking all their points into just one or two skills, the GM might wish to consider limiting PCs to skill levels somewhere in the 20-25 range.

Using Skills With Other Attributes The GM will sometimes find it useful to ask for a skill roll based on an attribute other than the controlling one for a skill. This is realistic; few skills really depend just on brains, just on agility, etc. To make a roll like this, simply add the relative skill level to the


attribute you wish to use and make a success roll against the total. Example: A warrior with DX 10, IQ 14, and Shortsword-17 has a relative skill level of +7 in Shortsword. If the GM asked for an IQ-based Shortsword roll, the swordsman would roll against 14 + 7 = 21 instead of his Shortsword skill of 17.


Some skill descriptions present situations where skill rolls using other attributes would be appropriate. The GM is encouraged to dream up more! A few examples: • DX-based rolls against IQ-based repair skills to reach into tight corners; ST-based rolls against these skills to manhandle engine blocks and other heavy parts into place. • IQ-based rolls against DX-based combat skills to feint an opponent, formulate tactics, or perform minor maintenance on weapons; ST-based rolls against these skills to disarm someone using brute strength rather than finesse. • IQ-based rolls against DX-based vehicle-operation skills to recall traffic regulations, remember to change the oil, or identify the make and model of a vehicle; HT-based rolls against these skills to stay awake at the wheel. Your relative skill level will sometimes modify ST for a specific task (e.g., kicking in doors). Only modify ST if your relative skill level is positive – you get a bonus for high skill, but you never get a penalty for low skill.

Using Skills Without Attributes The GM might occasionally want two people with identical training to have similar odds of success regardless of their attributes, in a situation where training really does matter more than innate talent. In this case, just add relative skill level to a flat number – usually 10 – and roll against the result. Example: Two accountants are vying for a promotion. One is talented, with IQ 14 and Accounting-18 (+4). The other is dull but experienced, with IQ 8 and Accounting-15 (+7). The GM decides to handle this as a Quick Contest: each accountant must attempt his Accounting roll, and the one who succeeds by the most will get the promotion. However, the boss cares about seniority above all, so the GM applies relative skill level – which reflects experience – to a flat base of 10. This leaves IQ out of the picture! The talented accountant rolls against 10 + 4 = 14, while his rival rolls against 10 + 7 = 17. Sometimes, life isn’t fair . . .

SKILL DEFAULTS: USING SKILLS YOU DON’T KNOW Most skills have a “default level”: the level at which you use the skill if you have no training. A skill has a default level if it is something that everybody can do . . . a little bit. As a general rule, a skill defaults to its controlling attribute at -4 if Easy, -5 if Average, or -6 if Hard. There are exceptions to this, but not many. Example: The “default” for Broadsword (DX/Average) is DX-5. If your DX is 11, and you have to swing a broadsword without training, then your “default” skill at Broadsword is 11 - 5 = 6. You need a roll of 6 or less to hit. Some skills have no default level. For instance, Alchemy, Hypnotism, and Karate are complex enough that you cannot use them at all without training. Regardless of your default skill level, you do not get the special benefits of a skill – especially combat bonuses such as improved damage, special defenses, and unpenalized off-hand use – when you use a skill at default. To enjoy these benefits, you must spend at least one point on the skill.

The Rule of 20 If a skill defaults to a basic attribute that is higher than 20, treat that attribute as 20 when figuring default skill. Superhuman characters get good defaults, but not super ones.

Who Gets a Default? Only individuals from a society where a skill is known may attempt a default roll against that skill. For instance, the default for Scuba skill assumes you are from a world where scuba gear exists and where most people would have some idea – if only from TV – of how to use it. A medieval knight transported to the 21st century would not get a default roll to use scuba gear the first time he saw it!

Defaulting to Other Skills Some skills default to another skill instead of or as well as an attribute. Example: Broadsword defaults to Shortsword-2, because the two skills are very similar. A Shortsword skill of 13 gives you a “default” Broadsword skill of 11.

Double Defaults A skill can’t default to another skill known only by default. If Skill A defaults to Skill B-5, and Skill B defaults to IQ-5, does Skill A default to IQ-10? No.

Improving Skills from Default If your default level in a skill is high enough that you would normally have to pay points for that level, you may improve the skill past its default level by paying only the difference in point costs between your new level and your default level. Example: Suppose you have DX 12 and Shortsword at 13. Since Broadsword defaults to Shortsword2, your default Broadsword skill is 11. Skill 11 is equal to DX-1 for you. This would have cost 1 point had you bought it directly. The next level (DX) costs 2 points. The difference is 1 point; to raise your Broadsword skill from its default level of 11 (DX-1) to 12 (DX), you need only pay 1 character point. You do not have to pay the full 2 points for DX level! If you increase a skill, skills that default to it go up as well. However, if you have spent points to improve these defaults, you may not see an increase when you raise the skill to which they default. This is best illustrated with our running example:

from 13 to 14 (from DX+1 to DX+2). Does your Broadsword skill also go up a level? No. Your new default from Shortsword is now 12 (Shortsword at 14, minus 2), but to go from level 12 to level 13 (from DX to DX+1) with Broadsword costs 2 points, and you’ve only spent 1 point on Broadsword. Keep track of that point, though. When you spend one more point on Broadsword, it goes up a level, too. When two skills default to one another and you have improved both, you may switch the “direction” of your default if this would give you better skill levels. Redistribute the points spent on both skills as needed. You may never decrease either skill level this way, however; you must always spend enough points to keep each skill at its current level. Example: Keeping Shortsword at 14, you spend a total of 22 points on Broadsword, improving your skill from its default of 12 (DX) to 18 (DX+6). You’d like to default Shortsword from Broadsword now, rather than vice versa. Taking the 8 points you spent on Shortsword and the 22 points you spent on Broadsword, you have 30 points to work with. First, buy Broadsword at 18 (DX+6) for 24 points. Then default Shortsword from Broadsword, getting 16 (that is, Broadsword-2). Finally, spend the remaining 6 points on Shortsword. This will be enough to raise Shortsword skill to 17 (and 2 more points will make that 18). This feels like an abstract number shuffle, but it works. You’re no better off than if you had started out with Broadsword skill, and you aren’t penalized for learning Shortsword first.

Example: Suppose you spend the point to raise Broadsword to 12 (DX). Now you spend 4 more points on Shortsword, improving that skill



SKILL LIST The skill list is sorted alphabetically by skill name. Each entry gives the following information: Name: The skill’s name. Technological skills are noted as such; e.g., “Machinist/TL.” Skills marked with a dagger (†) require you to choose a specialty (see Specialties, p. 169). Type: The skill’s controlling attribute and difficulty level; e.g., “IQ/Average.” Defaults: The attributes or other skills to which the skill defaults if you have not studied it. Where there is more than one possible default, use the most favorable. Some skills have no default – you cannot attempt to use these skills if you don’t know them. Prerequisites: Traits you must possess before you can spend points on the skill. If the prerequisite is another skill, you must have at least one point in that skill. Not all skills have prerequisites. Description: An explanation of what the skill is for and how it works in play. Modifiers: A list of common bonuses and penalties for use of the skill. The GM decides whether a particular modifier applies in a given situation. If an advantage or disadvantage permanently modifies base skill level rather than simply giving a bonus or a penalty for a specific task, add this permanent modifier to the skill level listed on your character sheet.

Accounting IQ/Hard Defaults: Mathematics Merchant-5.

IQ-6, Finance-4, (Statistics)-5, or

This is the ability to keep books of account, to examine the condition of a business, etc. A successful Accounting roll (requires at least two hours of study, and possibly months to audit a large corporation) can tell you whether financial records are correct, and possibly reveal evidence of forgery, tampering, and similar criminal activity. Modifiers: The time modifiers under Time Spent (p. 346) often apply; the Talents (p. 89) of Business Acumen and Mathematical Ability both provide a bonus.


Acrobatics DX/Hard Default: DX-6. This is the ability to perform gymnastic stunts, roll, take falls, etc. This can be handy on an adventure, as tightrope walking, human pyramids, and trapeze swinging all have useful applications. Each trick requires a separate skill roll, at whatever penalties the GM sees fit. If you are performing stunts on a moving vehicle or mount, roll against the lower of Acrobatics and the appropriate Driving or Riding skill. You may substitute an Acrobatics roll for a DX roll in any attempt to jump, roll, avoid falling down, etc. As well, you may attempt an Acrobatic Dodge in combat – a jump or roll that avoids an attack in a flashy way (see Acrobatic Dodge, p. 375). Finally, a successful Acrobatics roll will reduce the effective distance of any fall by five yards (see Falling, p. 431). Two special versions of Acrobatics are also available: Aerobatics: The ability to execute tight turns, loops, power dives, etc. in flight. You must be able to fly to learn this skill – although how you fly (magic, wings, jet pack, etc.) is irrelevant. Natural fliers might find flight to be as effortless as humans find walking, but they must still learn Aerobatics in order to engage in complex acrobatics. Add +2 to skill if you have 3D Spatial Sense (p. 34). Aquabatics: The ability to engage in underwater acrobatics. Prerequisites: Swimming, or the Amphibious advantage (p. 40) or the Aquatic disadvantage (p. 145). Acrobatics, Aerobatics, and Aquabatics default to one another at -4. Add +1 to these three skills if you have Perfect Balance (p. 74).


successful Acting roll lets you pretend to feel something that you do not. The GM may also require an Acting roll whenever you try to fool someone, play dead in combat, etc. Impersonation is a special type of acting. To impersonate someone, you must first successfully disguise yourself (see Disguise, p. 187) – unless your victims cannot see you! Note that Acting is not the same Fast-Talk (the art of the “quick con”) or Performance (the skill of screen and stage acting). Modifiers: +1 for every point of IQ you have over the person you are trying to fool (or the smartest one in the group), or -1 for every point of difference if your victim is smarter than you; -3 for Low Empathy (p. 142); -1 to -4 for Shyness (p. 154); -5 for Truthfulness (p. 159), but only if you are trying to deceive someone. For impersonation only: -5 if you are not well acquainted with your subject; -5 if those you wish to fool are acquaintances of the subject (-10 for close acquaintances).

Administration IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5 or Merchant-3. This is the skill of running a large organization. It is often a prerequisite for high Rank (p. 29). A successful Administration roll gives you a +2 reaction bonus when dealing with a bureaucrat, and allows you to predict the best way to go about dealing with a bureaucracy.

Aerobatics see Acrobatics, above

Airshipman/TL see Crewman, p. 185

Alchemy/TL IQ/Very Hard

IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5, Performance-2, or Public Speaking-5. This is the ability to counterfeit moods, emotions, and voices, and to lie convincingly over a period of time. A


Defaults: None. This is the study of magical transformations and transmutations. In a magical game world, an alchemist would be able to identify concoctions with magical effects (“elixirs”), such as

love potions and healing unguents, and prepare them from suitable ingredients. This is a mechanical process, using the mana inherent in certain things; therefore, those without Magery can learn and use Alchemy, and Magery confers no benefit.

This is the science of evolution and culture. An anthropologist is knowledgeable in the ways of primitive (and not-so-primitive) societies. An Anthropology roll might explain, or even predict, unusual rituals and folk customs. This skill requires

specialization by species (if left unspecified, assume the anthropologist’s own species). Specialties usually default to one another at -2 to -5, although there may be no default for completely alien species.

Animal Handling† IQ/Average Default: IQ-5. This is the ability to train and work with animals. You must specialize in a category of animals – the more intelligent the animals, the narrower the category. Examples of interest to adventurers: Big Cats (jaguars, lions, tigers, etc.), Dogs, Equines (horses and donkeys), and Raptors (eagles, falcons, and hawks). The default between specialties is -2 within the same order (e.g., Dogs to Big Cats), -4 across orders (e.g., Dogs to Equines), and -6 for larger differences (e.g., Dogs to Raptors). To train an animal, make an Animal Handling roll once per day of training. A failed roll means the animal learned nothing; a badly failed roll means you are attacked. The time it takes to train an animal depends on the beast’s intelligence and tractability (see Chapter 16). When working with a trained animal, roll against skill for each task you set the animal. This roll is at -5 if the animal is not familiar with you, -5 if the circ*mstances are stressful to the animal, and -3 or more if the task is a complex one. To put on an entertaining circus act, snake-charming show, etc., you must make a separate Performance roll! This skill can also (sometimes) be used to quiet a wild, dangerous, or untrained animal. This roll is at -5 if the creature is wild or very frightened, or -10 if it is a man-eater or man-killer. Finally, this skill gives an advantage in combat against animals within your specialty. If you have Animal Handling at level 15, an animal’s attack and defense rolls are at -1 against you, because you can predict its behavior. At skill 20, the animal’s rolls are at -2.

Anthropology† IQ/Hard

Optional Rule: Wildcard Skills The professor who has studied every science, the swordsman who can fight with any blade . . . cinematic fiction is full of heroes who know a little bit about everything in one broad area. The time required to list every last skill such a hero might need, and the difficulty of figuring out which skills to take (and which to use), might discourage many gamers from playing cinematic experts. Such broad expertise doesn’t exist in real life, but it is all part of the fun in cinematic games! A solution to this problem is “wildcard skills” or “bang skills”: skills that cover extremely broad categories of ability. The names of these skills end in an exclamation point in order to distinguish them from normal skills; e.g., “Science!” is the skill of “all science.” Wildcard skills include and replace all specific skills within their area. For instance, a hero could attempt a Science! roll whenever the adventure calls for a roll against Chemistry, Physics, or another science skill. Wildcard skills that cover mainly intellectual pursuits are IQ-based, while those that pertain chiefly to physical actions are DX-based. Such skills have no default; to use them, you must spend points on them. Buy wildcard skills as Very Hard skills, but at triple the usual point cost. For instance, it would normally cost 8 points to buy an IQ/Very Hard skill at IQ level, so Science! skill at IQ level would cost 24 points. The GM might choose to limit wildcard skills to those with a suitable Unusual Background – perhaps “Cinematic Hero.” This Unusual Background should never be available to sidekicks and random thugs! To give each hero a well-defined dramatic niche, the GM might wish to limit PCs to one or two wildcard skills apiece (preferably those that emerge naturally from their character stories). Some examples: Detective! (IQ). Replaces Criminology, Detect Lies, Electronics Operation (Security and Surveillance), Forensics, Interrogation, Law, Observation, Research, Savoir-Faire (Police), Search, Shadowing, Streetwise, etc. Gun! (DX). Replaces all specialties of Beam Weapons, Gunner, Guns, and Liquid Projector, as well as all related Fast-Draw skills. Make an IQbased roll for Armoury pertaining to these weapons. Science! (IQ). Replaces Astronomy, Bioengineering, Biology, Chemistry, Engineer, Geology, Mathematics, Metallurgy, Meteorology, Naturalist, Paleontology, Physics, Psychology, etc. Sword! (DX). Replaces Broadsword, Force Sword, Jitte/Sai, Knife, Main-Gauche, Rapier, Saber, Shortsword, Smallsword, and Two-Handed Sword, as well as related Fast-Draw skills. Use in place of such skills as Acrobatics and Jumping for physical stunts while fighting. Wildcard skills are useful for omniproficient characters. Someone who can pick up and play any instrument, or sight-read any choral work, would have the Music! skill. If he’s gifted with several instruments and can pick up others easily (but does have to learn them first), that’s the Musical Ability Talent.

Defaults: IQ-6, Paleontology (Paleoanthropology)-2, or Sociology-3.





see Acrobatics, p. 174

IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5 or Engineer (Civil)-4.

Archaeology IQ/Hard Default: IQ-6. This is the study of ancient civilizations. An archaeologist is at home with excavations, old potsherds, inscriptions, etc. An Archaeology roll lets you answer questions about ancient history, or identify artifacts and dead languages. It might even reveal information relating to the occult; e.g., Ancient Secrets and Things Man Was Not Meant To Know . . .

This is the ability to design buildings, and to deduce the design of buildings from their function (and vice versa). A successful Architecture roll lets you learn things about a strange building, find a secret room or door, etc. Modifiers: -2 if the building is of a strange type; -5 if it is alien.

Area Knowledge† IQ/Easy Defaults: IQ-4 (Regional)-3*



* You have an IQ default only for Area Knowledge of a place where you live or once lived. Geography only gives a default for Area Knowledge of the specialty region. This skill represents familiarity with the people, places, and politics of a given region. You usually have Area Knowledge only for the area you consider your “home base,” whether that’s a single farm or a solar system. If information about other areas is available, the GM may allow you to learn additional Area Knowledge skills. The GM should not require Area Knowledge rolls for ordinary situations; e.g., to find the blacksmith, tavern, or your own home. But he could require a roll to locate a smith to shoe

Geographical and Temporal Scope Skills such as Area Knowledge, Current Affairs (Regional) (p. 186), Geography (Regional) (p. 198), and History (p. 200) require specialization to specific places and times. In reality, this kind of knowledge is never “clear cut,” and tends to spill over into related areas. The following penalties apply when you wish to use such a skill outside your specialty.

Distance For an area far from your “stomping grounds,” use the penalties under Long-Distance Modifiers (p. 241). However, the speed at which knowledge propagates increases as progressively more powerful tools for managing information appear: printing press, telephone, television, computers, faster-than-light radio, etc. To reflect this, at TL5 and above, the GM may choose to roll 3d against TL+1 (e.g., 9 or less at TL8) to determine whether you are familiar with the distant region from TV, the Internet, etc. On a success, you may ignore all distance penalties. (The GM might also wish to use this rule to determine whether a character’s Reputation is known far from home in a high-tech setting.)

Time Time is usually only a concern for History skill – but it could also apply to Area Knowledge skill in a timetravel game, or if someone has been away from home for a long time. Use the Long-Distance Modifiers once again, substituting years for miles. For each point of tech-level difference, double the time modifier (a two-TL difference would be ¥4, etc.). This is because societies change drastically on all levels when technology increases.


Area Class “Area classes” are defined under Area Knowledge skill: Neighborhood; Village or Town; City; Barony, County, Duchy, or Small Nation; Large Nation; Planet; Interplanetary State; and Galaxy. Area class becomes important in campaigns that involve a lot of travel. We assume here that the smaller areas are contained within the larger ones. If you have specialized in a larger area and want information about a smaller area within it, the penalty is -2 for one class of difference, -4 for two, -8 for three, and so on, doubling each time. If you have specialized in a smaller area and want information about a specific locale within the larger area containing it, the most appropriate solution is usually to use the distance penalties described above. However, questions having to do with the entire large area use a flat -2 per difference in levels. Example: Someone with Area Knowledge (Earth) would be at -8 – due to three classes of difference – to know the mayor of Los Angeles. However, someone with Area Knowledge (Los Angeles) would be at -4 to know the location of Mount Rushmore. The same person would be at -10 to know the location of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.; the Library of Congress has more to do with Washington than with the United States as a whole, and it’s more appropriate to resolve the question by considering distance. Note that in a setting with multiple planes of existence, Area Knowledge skills for one reality can be dangerously unreliable in another. The GM decides the penalty that he will apply when you try to apply your knowledge of your San Francisco to his version.


your horse at 3 a.m., or to find the best ambush spot along a stretch of road. “Secret” or obscure information might give a penalty, require a Hidden Lore skill (p. 199), or simply be unavailable – GM’s decision. For instance, Area Knowledge of Washington, D.C. gives you the location of the Russian Embassy, but not the KGB’s current safe house. The information covered by Area Knowledge often overlaps such skills as Current Affairs, Geography, Naturalist, and Streetwise. The difference is that Area Knowledge works for a single area: you know the habits of this tiger or gang boss, but have no special insight into tigers or gangs in general. You can learn Area Knowledge for any sort of area. The larger the territory, the less “personal” and more general your knowledge becomes. Almost everyone will have Area Knowledge of some type. The “canonical” area classes are: Neighborhood: For an urban area: the residents and buildings of a few city blocks. For a rural area: the inhabitants, trails, streams, hiding places, ambush sites, flora, and fauna of a few hundred acres. Village or Town: All important citizens and businesses, and most unimportant ones; all public buildings and most houses. City: All important businesses, streets, citizens, leaders, etc. Barony, County, Duchy, or Small Nation: General nature of its settlements and towns, political allegiances, leaders, and most citizens of Status 5+. Large Nation: Location of its major cities and important sites; awareness of its major customs, ethnic groups, and languages (but not necessarily expertise); names of folk of Status 6+; and a general understanding of the economic and political situation. Planet: As for a large nation, but more general; knowledge of people of Status 7+ only. Interplanetary State: Location of major planets; familiarity with all known races (but not necessarily expertise); knowledge of people of Status 7+; general understanding of the economic and political situation. Galaxy: Location of the capitals of interplanetary states and the

homeworlds of major races; general awareness of all major races; knowledge of individuals of Status 8; general understanding of relations between interplanetary states. Area Knowledge for anything larger than a galaxy would be meaninglessly vague. Your IQ-4 default applies to any of these classes, as long as you have lived in the area. Defaults are limited by “common knowledge” at your tech level! A TL0 hunter would have a


default for every level up to “Village or Town,” while a TL8 student would have defaults up to “Planet” level. You must live in an interplanetary or interstellar state to have defaults for levels above “Planet.” In some game worlds, Area Knowledge specialties may exist for parallel realities and other dimensions – Area Knowledge (Cyberspace), Area Knowledge (Dream Realms), etc. The knowledge such skills provide is left to the GM’s judgment.


Armoury/TL† IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5 or Engineer (same)4. This is the ability to build, modify, and repair a specific class of weapons or armor. (It does not include skill at design; for that, see Engineer, p. 190.) A successful roll lets you find a problem, if it isn’t obvious; a second roll lets you repair it. Time required is up to the GM. You must specialize in one of the following fields: Battlesuits: All kinds of powered armor, along with any built-in weaponry. Body Armor: Any kind of unpowered personal armor (but not shields). Also defaults to Smith (Bronze)-3 at TL1, to Smith (Iron)-3 at TL2-4, and to Machinist-3 at TL5+. Force Shields: Any kind of force screen or deflector – be it personal or vehicular. This is the same skill as Electronics Repair (Force Shields). Heavy Weapons: All weapons used with the Artillery and Gunner skills.

Melee Weapons: Any weapon used with a Melee Weapon or Thrown Weapon skill, as well as all kinds of shields. Also defaults to Smith


(Bronze)-3 at TL1, to Smith (Iron)-3 at TL2-4, and to Machinist-3 at TL5+. Missile Weapons: Man-portable, pre-gunpowder projectile weapons of all kinds – bows, crossbows, slings, etc. Small Arms: All weapons used with the Beam Weapons and Guns skills. Also defaults to Machinist-5 at TL5+. Vehicular Armor: All kinds of armored vehicle hulls. Most specialties default to one another at -4 – but above TL4, there is no default between Armoury specialties dealing with armor and Armoury specialties dealing with weapons. The technologies covered by each specialty vary with TL. For instance, Armoury (Small Arms) covers black-powder small arms at TL4, repeating small arms that fire cartridges at TL6, “smart” infantry weapons at TL8, and portable beam weapons at TL10. The GM should strictly enforce penalties for unfamiliarity. Armoury/TL10 (Small Arms) might cover both beam weapons and portable railguns, but going from one to the other gives you -2 to skill until you familiarize yourself with all the differences.

Modifiers: -2 for an unfamiliar item within your specialty (e.g., plate armor when you’re used to mail); equipment modifiers (p. 345).


Artillery/TL† IQ/Average Default: IQ-5. This is the ability to use a heavy weapon, such as a trebuchet or a howitzer, for indirect fire – that is, to put fire onto a target area via a high ballistic arc or similar path. For direct fire, use Gunner skill (p. 198). Roll against Artillery skill to bombard the target. Loaders can make ST-based Artillery rolls to improve the rate of fire of certain crew-served heavy weapons. See the appropriate weapon description for details. You must specialize by weapon type. The available specialties vary by TL, but include one or more of: Beams: Any kind of heavy energy weapon that is fired from orbit, bounced off a mirror, or otherwise used against targets you cannot see. Bombs: All kinds of unpowered, free-falling munitions. Cannon: Any kind of heavy projectile weapon – bombard, howitzer, naval gun, etc. Catapult: Any kind of indirect-fire mechanical siege engine, such as a trebuchet. Guided Missile: Any kind of seeking or remotely piloted missile. Torpedoes: Any kind of powered underwater projectile. There is no default between specialties, some of which (e.g., Torpedoes) cover weapons that bear little or no resemblance to true artillery. Artillery is a single skill only because all the weapons it covers use the same rules. The weapons covered by each specialty will vary by TL. For instance, Artillery (Cannon) would cover primitive bombards at TL3, brass cannon at TL4, breech-loading howitzers at TL6, and orbital railguns at TL9+. Familiarity is crucial here! Artillery (Cannon) covers both 81mm infantry mortars and 406mm naval guns, but going from one to the other will give -2 for weapon type (81mm vs. 406mm), -2 for fire-control (visual spotting vs. fire-direction center), and -2 for mount (bipod vs. naval turret), for a total of -6 to skill until you familiarize yourself with all the differences.

Note that Forward Observer skill (p. 196) is generally required to designate targets for Artillery skill. Modifiers: All relevant combat modifiers; -2 for an unfamiliar firecontrol system (e.g., map coordinates when you’re used to satellite imagery) or mount (e.g., a naval turret when you’re used to emplaced guns), or for an unfamiliar weapon of a known type (e.g., 155mm when you are used to 203mm); -4 or more for a weapon in bad repair.

Artist† IQ/Hard Default: IQ-6. This skill represents talent at a visual art. A successful roll might let you create a recognizable likeness of a person or an object, or a work beautiful enough to sell (the GM should not allow a default roll for this use!). Time required is up to the GM. Artist is based on IQ, but there are many situations in which the GM could logically ask for a DX-based roll, in which case modifiers for High Manual Dexterity (p. 59) or HamFisted (p. 138) would apply. In rare cases, even a ST-based Artist roll might make sense – for instance, to work with a physically tough material. You must specialize in an art form. Common specialties include: Body Art: Tattooing, piercing, and scarification. Both this specialty and Painting suffice for henna or temporary tattoos, but cosmetic surgery requires Surgery skill (p. 223). Calligraphy: Beautiful and decorative handwriting. You need not be literate! Drawing: All forms of charcoal, ink, pastel, and pencil work. Illumination: Decorating written text with miniature paintings and pictures. Illusion: Creating believable or evocative illusions. Prerequisite: magical or psionic illusion ability of some kind. Interior Decorating: Creating pleasing building interiors by selecting appropriate paints, fixtures, and furniture. Default: Architecture-3. Painting: All forms of painting, whether on paper, canvas, or a wall, and whether with tempera, oil-based

paint, or something more exotic (like blood). Pottery: Working with various sorts of ceramics – especially clay. Scene Design: Designing sets for the stage. Default: Architecture-3. Sculpting: Creating three-dimensional art from ivory, stone, metal, etc. Woodworking: All forms of fine woodwork, including cabinet-making and decorative carving. Default: Carpentry-3. Calligraphy, Drawing, Illumination, and Painting default to one another at -2, and to or from Body Art at -4. Interior Decorating, Scene Design, and Woodworking default among themselves at -4. All other Artist specialties default to one another at -6. An artist of any kind can take a further optional specialty (p. 169) in a particular medium or technique. Many Artist specialties are used to earn a living rather than to create fine art, and some people regard them as “craft” skills, not “art” skills. It is up to you whether you focus on beauty, realism, or functionality. Modifiers: Equipment modifiers (p. 345); -2 if the medium is unfamiliar (e.g., tempera when you are used to oils); -5 if the medium is difficult (e.g., marble, for a sculptor).

Improve Concentration. You get +2 to skill to perform a specific, lengthy mental task (e.g., break a code or write a computer program), but -2 to all unrelated IQ, Perception, and skill rolls. The task must be a relatively sedate one, done in a quiet place (library, lab, monastery, or placid wilderness). Increase Will. You get +2 to Will (+5 on a critical success) for one hour. This applies to all attempts to resist interrogation, torture, or magical or psionic attack. This roll is at -2. Negate Pain/Fatigue. Cancels the negative effects of being reduced to less than 1/3 of your FP or HP (but not the fatigue or injury itself). This roll is at -4, and you may only make one attempt per hour.

Axe/Mace see Melee Weapon, p. 208

Battlesuit/TL see Environment Suit, p. 192

Beam Weapons/TL† DX/Easy Default: DX-4.

Astronomy/TL IQ/Hard Default: IQ-6. Prerequisite: Mathematics (Applied). This is the study of stars and other extraplanetary objects. An astronomer could answer questions about the Sun, the planets of the solar system, etc. An amateur who can locate stars and use a telescope, but not perform involved calculations, has an optional specialty (p. 169): Astronomy (Observational). This specialty does not require Mathematics as a prerequisite.

Autohypnosis Will/Hard Default: Meditation-4. This skill allows you to tap reserves of inner strength by entering a trancelike state. It requires a concentration


period of (20 - skill) seconds, minimum one second. You cannot talk or move during the initiation of the trance state. A successful skill roll allows you to do one of the following:

This is the ability to use beam small arms. You must specialize by weapon type: Pistol: Any handgun that fires an energy or particle beam. Projector: Any energy weapon that emits an area-effect cone or field. Rifle: Any long arm that fires an energy or particle beam. These specialties default to one another at -4. Treat specific beam types (blaster, laser, stunner, etc.) as familiarities. Other modifiers are as per Guns (p. 198). In settings with both beam and projectile weapons, the Pistol and Rifle specialties of Beam Weapons default to the similarly named Guns specialties at -4, and vice versa. See Artillery (p. 178) and Gunner (p. 198) for heavier beam weapons.


Bicycling DX/Easy Defaults: DX-4 (Motorcycle)-4.


Planet Types


This is the ability to ride a bicycle long distances, at high speeds, in rallies, etc. Roll at +4 if all you want to do is struggle along without falling off. An IQ-based Bicycling roll allows you to make simple repairs, assuming tools and parts are available.

Bioengineering/TL† IQ/Hard Default: Biology-5. This is the ability to engineer living organisms with specific characteristics, or to create biotechnological products. You must specialize: Cloning: The creation and growth of clones. Genetic Engineering: The manipulation and modification of genes. Tissue Engineering: The manufacture of organs and tissues. These specialties default to each other at -4.

Biology/TL† IQ/Very Hard Defaults: IQ-6 or Naturalist-6. This is the scientific study of the structure, behavior, and habitats of living organisms. You must specialize in the life of a particular planet type (see box). If you do not specify a planet type, your native planet type is assumed. The IQ default applies only to the planet type you grew up on. The default between different planet-type specialties is -4. At TL6+, most biologists have an optional specialty (p. 169) as well. The most common options are biochemistry (the study of the chemical reactions that sustain life), botany (the study of plants), ecology (the study of environments), genetics (the study of heredity and genomes), marine biology (the study of ocean life), microbiology (the study of microscopic organisms), and zoology (the study of animals), but more obscure specialties are possible.

Biology, Geology (p. 198), and Meteorology (p. 209) require you to specialize by “planet type,” as does the “Physical” specialty of Geography (p. 198). If you do not specify a planet type, your native planet type is assumed – so if the campaign will never leave your home world, save space and just write “Geology,” “Biology,” etc. GURPS sorts planets into six broad categories for these purposes. Earthlike: Essentially, all habitable worlds. Gas Giants: Jupiter/Uranus types. Hostile Terrestrial: Venus types. Ice Dwarfs: Comets and small moons composed almost entirely of snow or ice. Ice Worlds: Rock worlds covered by a frozen “ocean.” Rock Worlds: Most moons, asteroids, etc. Unless otherwise specified, all planet-type specialties for a given skill default to one another at -4.

Blind Fighting Per/Very Hard Defaults: None. Prerequisites: Trained By A Master or Weapon Master. You have learned to fight blindfolded or in absolute darkness. As a result, you can “sense” your targets without having to see them. This skill enables you to use senses other than vision – mainly hearing, but also touch and even smell – to pinpoint exactly where your opponents are. A successful roll allows one melee attack or active defense without any penalties for lighting (even total darkness), blindness (temporary or permanent), or an invisible foe. However, attacks made in total darkness, while blind, or against invisible enemies have an extra -2 to target specific hit locations. If you also know Zen Archery (p. 228), you can shoot targets without seeing them by making rolls on both skills at -6. An opponent who knows you possess this ability can foil it by winning a Quick Contest of Stealth-4 vs. your Blind Fighting each turn. If he wins, you cannot detect him. However, Invisibility Art (p. 202) never works on you; it is completely useless against this skill. Modifiers: Background noise gives a penalty: -1 for rain, -2 for heavy rain or a storm, -3 for a crowded, noisy



area or heavy machinery, -4 for a full football stadium, or -5 in the middle of an artillery barrage. If you cannot hear at all, the roll is at -7, but you may still attempt a roll, as the skill is not completely based on hearing. Add your level of Acute Hearing to the roll. Add the higher of your ESP Talent (p. 256) or Telepathy Talent (p. 257).

Blowpipe DX/Hard Default: DX-6. This is the ability to use a blowpipe. You can use this weapon to shoot small, usually poisoned, darts. You can also use it to blow powders at targets within one yard. Treat this as a melee attack, not as a ranged attack. Such attacks are always at +2 to hit. Modifiers: -2 and up for wind, if outdoors.

Boating/TL† DX/Average Defaults: DX-5 or IQ-5. This is the ability to handle a specific type of small watercraft. For large vessels that require multiple crewmen on a “bridge,” use Seamanship (see Crewman, p. 185) and Shiphandling (p. 220). Make a roll to get underway, to dock, and whenever you encounter a hazard. If using this skill at default,

also roll when you first enter the boat – to avoid falling in the water! You must specialize: Large Powerboat: Any boat with an enclosed cabin and an inboard motor. Includes cabin cruisers, houseboats, and patrol boats. Defaults: Motorboat2, Sailboat-4, or Unpowered-4. This specialty (only) also defaults to Seamanship-4. Motorboat: Any open powerboat – notably speedboats and any of the boats used with the Sailboat or Unpowered specialty when outfitted with an outboard motor. Defaults: Large Powerboat-2, Sailboat-3, or Unpowered-3. Sailboat: Any small watercraft moving under sail. Defaults: Large Powerboat-4, Motorboat-3, or Unpowered-3. Unpowered: Any small watercraft that relies on muscle power, whether it is paddled, rowed, or poled. Includes canoes, rowboats, and rafts. Defaults: Large Powerboat-4, Motorboat-3, or Sailboat-3. Modifiers: -2 for an unfamiliar boat within your specialty (e.g., a kayak when you’re used to a rowboat); -3 or worse for foul weather, navigational hazards, etc.

Body Control HT/Very Hard

flushes the poison in 1d hours, after which it has no further effect. Finally, you may use the higher of this skill and basic HT to resist any Affliction, magic spell, or psionic attack that is normally resisted by HT.

and a mask gives -5 (and makes it impossible to use this skill if you cannot see the rest of the body!).

Body Sense DX/Hard Defaults: DX-6 or Acrobatics-3.

Body Language Per/Average Defaults: Detect Psychology-4.



This is the ability to interpret a person’s facial expressions and body posture in order to gauge his feelings. You can use it like the Empathy advantage (p. 51) or Detect Lies skill (p. 187), but only on a subject you can see. You can also use it to get a rough idea of what a party member is doing or about to do in a situation where he cannot communicate with you directly (for instance, when using Stealth). You can only observe one subject at a time. The ability to read body language in combat is a standard part of any Melee Weapon or unarmed combat skill; see Feint (p. 365). Modifiers: All Vision modifiers; physiology modifiers (see box); +4 if your subject is Easy to Read (p. 134). Anything that makes the subject harder to “read” gives a penalty: baggy clothing gives -1, a shield or a voluminous cloak gives from -2 to -4,

This is the ability to adjust quickly after teleportation or similar “instant movement.” A successful roll lets you act normally on your next turn. A failed roll means disorientation: you may take no action other than defense for one turn. A critical failure means you fall down, physically stunned! Modifiers: +3 for either level of Absolute Direction (p. 34). -2 if you changed facing, or -5 if you went from vertical to horizontal or vice versa (you cannot change posture during a teleport – only orientation).

Bolas DX/Average Defaults: None. This is the ability to throw the bolas: a length of cord with two or more weights attached. Its primary uses are to stop herd animals and to hunt small game, but it can also entangle opponents in combat. See Special Ranged Weapons (p. 410) for bolas rules.

Defaults: None. Prerequisites: Trained By A Master, Breath Control, and Meditation. This ability lets you affect involuntary bodily functions such as heart rate, blood flow, and digestion. One use of this skill is to enter a deathlike trance, during which only those who can win a Quick Contest of Diagnosis vs. your Body Control skill even realize that you are alive. This requires (30 - skill) seconds of concentration, minimum one second. You can also use this skill to flush poisons from your body. To do so, you must first roll against Poisons (or Alchemy, Pharmacy, etc., as appropriate) to identify the poison. You cannot attempt this roll until you know you have been poisoned. In most cases, you only discover this when the first symptoms show! A successful Body Control roll – adjusted by any modifier to the HT roll to resist the poison –

Physiology Modifiers The following skills deal with the health, function, or vital points of living beings: Body Language, Diagnosis (p. 187), First Aid (p. 195), Physician (p. 213), Pressure Points (p. 215), Pressure Secrets (p. 215), and Surgery (p. 223). These skills work as written when working with members of your species. When dealing with a member of another species, apply the following modifiers: Species with similar physiology: -2 (human vs. Elf) to -4 (human vs. troll). Species with very different physiology, but still from your world: -5. This includes all normal animals. Utterly alien species: -6 or worse (GM’s option). Machine: No roll possible! These skills do not work at all on creatures with the Machine meta-trait (p. 263). A successful roll against a suitable skill lets you avoid these penalties. This roll is usually against the relevant racial specialty of Physiology, although Biology-4 suffices for common animals.



Bow DX/Average Default: DX-5. This is the ability to use the longbow, short bow, and all similar bows. It also covers the compound bow, although a person who had never seen a compound bow would suffer a -2 unfamiliarity penalty.

Boxing DX/Average Defaults: None. This is the skill of trained punching. Roll against Boxing to hit with a punch. Boxing does not improve kicking ability – use Brawling (p. 182) or Karate (p. 203) for that. Boxing improves damage: if you know Boxing at DX+1 level, add +1 per die to basic thrust damage when you calculate punching damage. Add +2 per die if you know Boxing at DX+2 or better! Work out damage ahead of time and record it on your character sheet. When you defend with bare hands, Boxing allows you to parry two different attacks per turn, one with each hand. Your Parry score is (skill/2) + 3, rounded down. Boxing parries are at -2 vs. kicks and -3 vs. weapons other than thrusting attacks. Boxing also gives an improved retreating bonus when you parry; see Retreat (p. 377). For more on barehanded parries, see Parrying Unarmed (p. 376).

Brawling DX/Easy

Brain Hacking see Brainwashing, below

Brainwashing/TL IQ/Hard Defaults: Special. Prerequisite: Psychology. This is the “black art” of technological personality alteration and mind control. Only intelligence, military, and security services teach it – and only to individuals with suitable Rank or Security Clearance. Even then, it is rare outside police states (except perhaps during wartime). Brainwashing encompasses many techniques – some proven, others little better than witchcraft. Depending on the setting, these might include drugs, electroshock, hypnotism, sensory


deprivation, sleep deprivation, social pressure, subliminal messages, or surgery . . . and most likely a combination of several of these. Regardless of the techniques employed, brainwashing is handled as a Regular Contest (not a Quick Contest) between Brainwashing skill and the victim’s Will. Roll once per day. Obviously, the brainwasher has a tremendous advantage: even if the victim wins this time, it is only a matter of time before he slips. Results depend on how effective the GM deems brainwashing to be, but might include insanity, personality alteration, or suggestions that can be triggered by future events. In game terms, the victim can acquire almost any mental quirk or disadvantage. In settings where neural interfaces exist, it might be possible to “hack” the victim’s brain using a computer. This takes only a fraction of a second per attempt! Brain Hacking should be treated as its own skill, with Computer Hacking instead of Psychology as a prerequisite. This skill normally has no default. However, GMs who wish to explore the gory details can specify the techniques used in their campaign and have Brainwashing default to one or more of Electronics Operation (Medical)-6, Hypnotism-6, Interrogation-6, Pharmacy-6, Psychology-6, or Surgery6, as appropriate.

Defaults: None. This is the skill of “unscientific” unarmed combat. Roll against Brawling to hit with a punch, or Brawling-2 to hit with a kick. Brawling can also replace DX when you attack with teeth, claws, horns, or other “natural weapons.” Brawling improves damage: if you know Brawling at DX+2 level or better, add +1 per die to basic thrust damage when you calculate damage with Brawling attacks – punches, kicks, claws, bites, etc. Work out damage ahead of time and record it on your character sheet. Brawling includes the ability to use the blackjack or sap. An attack with such a fist load is considered a punch at +1 to damage.


When you defend with bare hands, Brawling allows you to parry two different attacks per turn, one with each hand. Your Parry score is (skill/2) + 3, rounded down. Brawling parries are at -3 vs. weapons other than thrusting attacks. For more on barehanded parries, see Parrying Unarmed (p. 376).

Breaking Blow IQ/Hard Defaults: None. Prerequisite: Trained By A Master. This skill allows you to find the weakest spot in any object when making a barehanded attack. Each attack requires a separate Breaking Blow roll. Roll against skill after you hit. Breaking Blow costs 1 FP per attempt, whether or not you hit. On a success, your attack gains an armor divisor of (5) against any braced, inanimate, hom*ogenous target (see Injury to Unliving, hom*ogenous, and Diffuse Targets, p. 380), and you may treat the target as if it were Fragile (Brittle) (p. 136) for this one attack. In a cinematic game, you are not limited to inanimate targets. Your armor divisor affects any artificial armor or force field (not natural DR), and you may treat hom*ogenous opponents as if they were Fragile (Brittle)! On a failure, your attack gains no special benefits. On a critical failure, you do the damage to your own hand or foot. Modifiers: -10 if used instantly, dropping to -5 after 1 turn of concentration, -4 after 2 turns, -3 after 4 turns, -2 after 8 turns, -1 after 16 turns, and no penalty after 32 turns. -1 if your target is wood or plastic, -3 if brick or stone, or -5 if metal or hightech composites.

Breath Control HT/Hard Defaults: None. This is the ability to breathe at maximum efficiency. On a successful skill roll, you can increase the time you can hold your breath for any reason (e.g., underwater) by 50%, or regain one FP in only two minutes (you cannot combine this with magic spells that restore FP).

Broadsword see Melee Weapon, p. 208

Camouflage IQ/Easy Defaults: IQ-4 or Survival-2. This is the ability to use natural materials, special fabrics and paints, etc. to hide yourself, your position, or your equipment. To see through your camouflage, an observer must win a Quick Contest of Vision or Observation skill (p. 211) vs. your Camouflage skill. Depending on the circ*mstances, successful camouflage might hide its subject entirely or merely blur its outlines to make it harder to hit (-1 to attacker’s skill). Camouflage will not improve your Stealth roll, but if you fail a Stealth roll while camouflaged, those who heard you must still see through your camouflage to see you. Modifiers: Equipment modifiers (p. 345). Apply a penalty equal to the

Size Modifier of a large object (e.g., -5 for a tank with SM +5). This makes it difficult to camouflage large objects, but remember that distant observers suffer large Vision penalties for range – see Vision (p. 358).


Modifiers: Up to +3 for buying drinks or other entertainment for your fellow carousers; -3 for Killjoy (p. 140); -3 for Low Empathy (p. 142); -1 to -4 for Shyness (p. 154).

Carpentry IQ/Easy

see Enthrallment, p. 191

Carousing HT/Easy Default: HT-4. This is the skill of socializing, partying, etc. A successful Carousing roll, under the right circ*mstances, gives you a +2 bonus on a request for aid or information, or just on a general reaction. A failed roll means you made a fool of yourself in some way; you get a -2 penalty on any reaction roll made by those you caroused with. If you do your carousing in the wrong places, a failed roll can have other dangers!

Default: IQ-4. This is the ability to build things out of wood. A successful roll lets you do one hour’s worth of competent carpentry. A failed roll means the work was bad. The GM may require DXbased Carpentry rolls for certain kinds of fine work. Modifiers: Equipment modifiers (p. 345); +5 if you are being supervised or assisted by someone with skill 15 or better.

Cartography/TL IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5, Geography (any) -2, Mathematics (Surveying)-2, or Navigation (any)-4. This is the ability to create and interpret maps and charts. Roll against this skill to map any location as you move through it. At TL7+, this skill includes knowledge of computer mapping techniques and generating maps from sensor information.

Chemistry/TL IQ/Hard Default: IQ-6 or Alchemy-3. This is the study of matter. A chemist can identify elements and simple compounds (but not necessarily drugs, magical substances, etc.). Given proper equipment, he could conduct complex analyses and syntheses.

Climbing DX/Average Default: DX-5. This is the ability to climb mountains, rock walls, trees, the sides of buildings, etc. See Climbing (p. 349) for details. Modifiers: +2 for Brachiator (p. 41); +3 for Flexibility or +5 for DoubleJointed (p. 56); +1 for Perfect Balance (p. 74); a penalty equal to encumbrance level (e.g., -1 for Light encumbrance).



Cloak DX/Average Defaults: DX-5, Net-4, or Shield (any)-4. This is the skill of using a cloak or a cape as a weapon. It covers the use of two types of cloak: the waist-length “light cloak” (any cloak, cape, or coat weighing less than 5 lbs.) and the fulllength “heavy cloak” (any cloak weighing 5 lbs. or more). Offensively, you can use a cloak to entangle an opponent – see Special Melee Weapon Rules (p. 404) for details. You can also snap a cloak in your opponent’s face or simply use it to block his vision, either of which counts as a Feint maneuver. Defensively, a cloak works much like a shield. It provides a Defense Bonus (+1 if light, +2 if heavy) and gives a Block defense equal to (skill/2) + 3, rounded down. A cloak is not as robust as a shield, though! A light cloak has only DR 1 and 3 HP, while a heavy cloak has DR 1 and 5 HP.

Combat Art or Sport DX/Varies Defaults: Special. You can opt to learn most combat skills in nonlethal forms aimed at either exhibition (Combat Art skill) or competition (Combat Sport skill). Combat Art skills emphasize graceful movements and perfect stances. Since these skills still give a default to full-fledged, lethal combat skills (see below), they are a logical choice for Pacifists who want some combat ability. Combat Sport skills concentrate on speed of movement and nondamaging attacks. A failed skill roll means a foul that might disqualify you from a tournament! You can make an IQ-based roll against Combat Sport to recall basic tournament rules, but to become a qualified judge or referee, learn the relevant Games skill (p. 197). Combat Art and Sport skills are DX-based, with the same difficulty level and defaults as the corresponding combat skill. A combat skill, its Art form, and its Sport form default among themselves at -3. For instance, Staff Art and Staff Sport are DX/Average skills that default to DX-5, just like Staff skill (p. 208). A fighter


with Staff at 15 would have default Staff Art and Staff Sport skills of 12, while an athlete with Staff Sport at 15 would have Staff and Staff Art skills at 12 by default.

Computer Hacking/TL IQ/Very Hard Defaults: None. Prerequisite: Programming.


This is the skill of gaining illegal access to a computer system – usually using another computer over a communications network. A successful Computer Hacking roll allows you to gain surreptitious access to a system, or to find (or change) information on a system you have already broken into. On a critical failure, you fail to gain access and leave some sort of incriminating evidence of your attempt. This skill is cinematic, and simulates the way computer intrusion works in many movies and novels. It does not exist in realistic settings! Realistic “hackers” should learn a combination of Computer Operation (to exploit OS loopholes and run intrusion software), Computer Programming (to write intrusion software), Cryptography, Electronics Operation (Communications or Surveillance), Electronics Repair (Computers), Fast-Talk (to convince legitimate users to reveal passwords), Research (to find documented security holes), and Scrounging (to “Dumpster dive” for manuals, passwords on discarded sticky notes, etc.). Modifiers: Equipment modifiers (p. 345). -1 to -10 if you have been away from the field for a long time and have not had a chance to become familiar with the changes. Security measures give a penalty, from -1 for the cheapest commercial security software to -15 for the latest technology. Some measures resist your intrusion attempt; treat this as a Quick Contest of Hacking vs. the effective skill of the defenses.

Computer Operation/TL IQ/Easy Default: IQ-4. This is the ability to use a computer: call up data, run programs, play


games, etc. It is the only computer skill needed by most end users. Learn Computer Programming (below) to write software and Electronics Repair (Computers) (p. 190) to troubleshoot hardware. This skill only exists in game worlds with computers. Individuals from settings without computers cannot even use it by default until they have had time to gain familiarity with computers! In settings where it is possible to “jack” your brain into a computer, Computer Operation includes the ability to use a neural interface, but new users initially suffer a -4 penalty for unfamiliarity (see Familiarity, p. 169). Modifiers: -2 or more for an unfamiliar computer, operating system, or program.

Computer Programming/TL IQ/Hard Defaults: None. This is the ability to write and debug computer software. A successful roll lets you find a bug in a program, determine a program’s purpose by examining the code, answer a question about computer programming, or write a new program (time required is up to the GM). In settings where artificial intelligence (AI) exists, those who wish to work with AI must learn Computer Programming (AI). There is no default between this skill and regular Computer Programming. When using Detect Lies, Fast-Talk, Psychology, Teaching, and similar “social” skills on an AI, roll against the lower of Computer Programming (AI) and the relevant skill. Modifiers: -2 or more for an unfamiliar programming language (see Familiarity, p. 169). The time modifiers under Time Spent (p. 346) will often apply. When writing a program that deals with a specialized field of knowledge, the GM may require a roll against the lower of Computer Programming and your skill in that field (e.g., a Mathematics specialty for a complex mathematical program, or the lower of Teaching skill and a “subject” skill for an expert system that will assist users with a particular subject).

Connoisseur† IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5 and others. This skill represents an educated understanding of art and luxury items. It is vital to art dealers, critics, master thieves, and anyone who wishes to appear cultured. A successful roll lets you predict what critics will think of a piece of art, assess how much it will fetch on the market (+1 to Merchant skill when trading it), or impress the culturally literate (may give +1 to Savoir-Faire or reaction rolls, at the GM’s option). You must specialize. Specialties include Dance, Literature, Music, Visual Arts, and Wine. Each specialty defaults to skills used to study or create the art at -3: Connoisseur (Literature) defaults to Literature, Poetry, or Writing at -3; Connoisseur (Music) defaults to Group Performance (Conducting), Musical Composition, or Musical Instrument at -3; and so on. Modifiers: Cultural Familiarity modifiers (p. 23); -3 for Killjoy (p. 140).

Cooking IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5 or Housekeeping-5. This is the skill of being a chef – you do not need it to heat water and open boxes, or to cook rat-on-a-stick over your campfire. A successful skill roll allows you to prepare a pleasing meal. Many chefs have an optional specialty (p. 169), such as baking, beverage making, or a particular variety of ethnic cuisine (e.g., Chinese or Martian).

Counterfeiting/TL IQ/Hard Defaults: IQ-6 or Forgery-2. This is the art of duplicating banknotes and coins. It is only taught by the underworld and government agencies (although this is rare outside of rogue states, except in wartime). Time required varies from days to weeks (GM’s option). The GM secretly rolls against your Counterfeiting skill for each “batch” of money.

A critical success means that the fakes in that batch are as good as the real thing. An ordinary success means that your work is good but not perfect. Whenever you try to pass the counterfeit money, the GM makes a second skill roll for you, with all the same modifiers. If this roll fails, the recipient spots your handiwork. To successfully pass bogus currency to someone who has reason to be suspicious, you must win a Quick Contest of Counterfeiting vs. the highest of his Perception, Forensics, and Merchant. Any failure on the initial Counterfeiting roll means that the first person to receive the money immediately realizes that it is bogus. Critical failure – on the initial roll or any subsequent roll – has other ramifications: the recipient is an undercover cop, an armed and angry citizen, etc.

basic map or chart reading, practical meteorology, or to recall laws and regulations that pertain to your vehicle. This skill also lets you steer the vessel. It is easier than Piloting, Submarine, and similar skills because it only includes knowledge of how to steer. Specialists handle such activities as plotting courses and operating sensors. These experts report to the captain, who in turn tells you how to maneuver. Make a DX-based skill roll whenever you take the helm – but note that your effective skill cannot exceed your captain’s Shiphandling skill (p. 220). The average Crewman skill of an entire crew can be used as a measure of overall crew quality. The GM rolls against average skill whenever the vehicle arrives or departs, in unfavorable conditions, or in battle. Failure and critical failure results depend on the circ*mstances.

Connoisseur represents an educated understanding of art and luxury items. It is vital to art dealers, critics, master thieves, and anyone who wishes to appear cultured. Modifiers: Equipment modifiers (p. 345). Materials – ink, paper, presses, etc. – stolen from the legitimate mint can give from +1 (a few rolls of paper) to +10 (actual plates or molds). You must have a sample of the real thing or you cannot make the attempt at all!

Crewman/TL IQ/Easy Default: IQ-4. This is the ability to serve as crew aboard a specific type of large vehicle. It includes familiarity with “shipboard life,” knowledge of safety measures, and training in damage control (the use of emergency equipment to control flooding, fight fires, patch the hull, and so forth). Make a skill roll for


There is a separate skill for each class of vessel: Airshipman/TL: The skill of handling ballast, gas valves, mooring lines, etc. on a blimp, zeppelin, or other large airship. Seamanship/TL: The skill of operating anchors, hatches, mooring lines, pumps, sails, windlasses, etc. aboard a large surface ship (but not a submarine). Spacer/TL: The skill of working with airlocks, docking clamps, hull patches, pressure doors, etc. on a large spacecraft or space base. Submariner/TL: The skill of handling pressure doors, pumps, valves, etc. aboard a submarine or in an undersea base.


The code-breaker is at +5 if he has a sample of the code with translation, and -5 if the message to be decoded is shorter than 25 words. The codemaker receives a bonus for the time taken to create the code: consult the Size and Speed/Range Table (p. 550), look up the time in days in the Range/Speed column (substituting “days” for “yards”), and use the corresponding bonus.

Current Affairs/TL† IQ/Easy Defaults: IQ-4 or Research-4. This is the ability to assimilate quickly whatever qualifies as “news” in your world, and to recall it as needed. You must specialize in one of the following areas:

Criminology/TL IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5 or Psychology-4. This is the study of crime and the criminal mind. A successful skill roll allows you to find and interpret clues, guess how criminals might behave, etc. Though this skill does not actually default to Streetwise, the GM might allow a Streetwise roll instead in certain situations – especially to predict or outguess a criminal. Modifiers: -3 for Low Empathy (p. 142).

Crossbow DX/Easy Default: DX-4. This is the ability to use all types of crossbows, including the pistol crossbow, prodd (which fires pellets or stones), repeating crossbow, and hightech compound crossbow.

Cryptography/TL IQ/Hard Default: Mathematics (Cryptology)5. This is the ability to create and defeat encryption systems, codes, and ciphers. It is of use in wartime, espionage, and even business dealings. It covers all the techniques of your TL, which can range from unsophisticated substitution ciphers to state-of-theart tactical encryption schemes.


Knowledge of a specific system, code, or cipher depends on your Security Clearance (p. 82) and allegiances (national, administrative, or both). In many settings, some level of Security Clearance is a prerequisite to learning this skill at all. Treat an attempt to break an unknown code as a Quick Contest of Cryptography skill between the codebreaker and code-maker. The codebreaker must win to break the code. Repeated attempts are possible, but each attempt takes a day. The codemaker rolls only once, when he first creates the code. Those with Cryptography skill may take an optional specialty (p. 169) in making or breaking codes. (The codebreaking specialty is often called “cryptanalysis.”) Cryptography normally has no IQ default, with two exceptions. Anyone can devise a trivial code or cipher by making an IQ-5 roll. This won’t stall a professional for long, of course. Likewise, anyone can make an IQ-5 roll to attempt to break such a trivial code (but not a code devised by someone with Cryptography skill), using the Quick Contest system described above. Modifiers: Mathematical Ability (p. 90). A computer with appropriate software gives a bonus (provided you know Computer Operation skill): +1 for a home computer, +2 for a minicomputer, +3 or +4 for a mainframe, and +5 or more for a supercomputer.


Business: Exchange rates, investment performance, etc. Headline News: Usually bad news, such as assassinations, plagues, and wars. High Culture: Information on galleries, operas, symphonies, and so forth. People: The names of and gossip on celebrities, heads of state, and the like. Politics: Election results, international treaties, etc. Popular Culture: Hit songs, cool fashions, and hot products, among other things. Regional: News of all kinds for a specific region (pick one). This is the definitive “town crier” skill at low TLs. Science & Technology: New discoveries and inventions. Sports: Scores for recent matches, names of star athletes, etc. Travel: Where the “beautiful people” are going this year, and how much it all costs. These specialties default to one another at -4. It is hard to bone up on one kind of news without learning about all the others! On a successful Current Affairs roll, the GM will inform you of any news within your specialty that pertains to the current adventure (possibly including clues, on a good roll) or give you a small skill bonus (e.g., a success on Current Affairs (Sports) might give +1 to Gambling skill when betting on a boxing match).

Modifiers: -1 per day that you have been unable to access news media; -3 if you only have one source; +1 or more for “inside” access to the news (a subscription to an ordinary wire service is worth +1, while a job at an intelligence agency might give +3 or more).

Dancing DX/Average Default: DX-5. This is the ability to perform dances appropriate to your own culture, and to learn new dances quickly. Note that certain physical handicaps make this skill effectively impossible! Exotic dances abound in fiction and history: blade dancing, bull dancing, fire dancing, snake dancing, etc. The GM may decide that each is a separate DX/Average skill that defaults to Dancing-5. Modifiers: Cultural Familiarity modifiers (p. 23); -5 if the dance is unfamiliar (a dance is familiar once you have successfully performed it three times).

Detect Lies Per/Hard Defaults: Perception-6, Language-4, or Psychology-4.


This is the ability to tell when someone is lying to you. It is not the same as Interrogation (p. 202); Detect Lies works in a casual or social situation. When you ask to use this skill, the GM rolls a Quick Contest of your Detect Lies skill vs. your subject’s IQ (or Fast-Talk or Acting skill). If you win, the GM tells you whether the subject is lying. If you lose, the GM may lie to you about whether you were lied to . . . or just say, “You can’t tell.” Modifiers: +1 for Sensitive or +3 for Empathy (p. 51), or -3 for Low Empathy (p. 142); +4 if your subject is Easy to Read (p. 134). If the subject is of a different species, the GM may assess a penalty – see Physiology Modifiers (p. 181).

Diagnosis/TL IQ/Hard Defaults: IQ-6, First Physician-4, or Veterinary-5.


This is the ability to tell what is wrong with a sick or injured person, or what killed a dead person. A successful roll gives some information about the patient’s problem – limited to realistic knowledge for your tech level. It might not determine the exact problem (if the GM feels the cause is totally beyond your experience, for instance), but it always gives hints, rule out impossibilities, etc. No Diagnosis roll is required for obvious things, like open wounds and missing limbs! Modifiers: Equipment modifiers (p. 345); physiology modifiers (p. 181); -5 for internal injuries; -5 or more for a rare disease.

Diplomacy IQ/Hard Defaults: IQ-6 or Politics-6. This is the skill of negotiating, compromising, and getting along with others. You may substitute a Diplomacy roll for any reaction roll in a noncombat situation, as described under Influence Rolls (p. 359). Unlike other Influence skills, Diplomacy never gives a worse result than if you had tried an ordinary reaction roll. Failure with Fast-Talk or Sex Appeal alienates the subject, but Diplomacy is usually safe. A successful roll also allows you to predict the possible outcome of a course of action when you are negotiating, or to choose the best approach to take. If you know Diplomacy at level 20 or better, you get a +2 bonus on all reaction rolls! Modifiers: +2 for Voice (p. 97); -3 for Low Empathy (p. 142); -1 for Oblivious (p. 146); -1 to -4 for Shyness (p. 154); -2 for Stuttering (p. 157).

Disguise/TL† IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5 or Makeup-3. This is the art of altering your appearance using clothing, makeup, and prosthetics. You do not need this skill to don a quick disguise – e.g., to put on a lab coat when you enter a laboratory – but such disguises only fool the inattentive! A good disguise

requires a Disguise roll and 30 minutes to an hour of preparation. Roll a Quick Contest of Disguise skill vs. the Perception of each person your disguise must fool. Individuals with Criminology or Observation skill may substitute those skills for Perception when rolling to penetrate a disguise. The GM may allow other skills to be of use – for instance, Physician skill might help spot a rubber nose. When combining Acting (p. 174) with Disguise (that is, when you must change your face and your personality), you need only make one roll for each person or group – but it must be the harder of the two rolls. If there is more than one sapient species in your world, you must specialize by race – Disguise (Human) is nothing like Disguise (Bug-Eyed Monster). Disguise specialized in your own species is the most common form; just list this as “Disguise” on your character sheet. Disguise skills for physically similar species default to one another at -2 to -4. Modifiers: Equipment modifiers (p. 345). +4 for Elastic Skin (p. 51). You are at -1 to -5 to disguise yourself as someone very different from you (GM’s discretion). Distinctive appearance also gives a penalty – see Build (p. 18), Unnatural Features (p. 22), and specific disadvantages (e.g., Hunchback, p. 139) for details. Differences in Size Modifier usually make Disguise impossible. You can also learn Disguise (Animals) to deceive nonsapient creatures. This involves wearing animal skins, smearing your body with musk or dung, etc. There is no default between this and other Disguise specialties. Use the following modifiers instead of those given above. Modifiers: +2 if approaching from downwind; -1 for each animal over one of the same type being approached (-1 for every 10 in the case of herd animals); -1 to -3 if the skins are old or in poor condition. Make a Naturalist roll to recall the habits of the animal being imitated; success gives +1 to +3, while failure gives -1 to -3.

Diving Suit/TL see Environment Suit, p. 192




Driving/TL† Will/Hard

Default: Will-6. This is the skill of controlling and remembering your dreams. A successful skill roll lets you experience vivid dreams about a subject of your choosing. Use the Fortune-Telling (Dream Interpretation) skill to interpret your dreams. In some game worlds, this might be a useful divinatory technique (GM’s decision). A Dreaming roll can also help you recall a previously forgotten piece of information, or something you witnessed but did not consciously note. This technique is much less reliable than Eidetic Memory (p. 51), though. The GM will describe your dreams to you, working clues into the narrative. It is up to you, the player, to spot these hints! Finally, you can use this skill to combat malign supernatural influences on your dreams. Resolve this as a Quick Contest between your Dreaming skill and your harasser’s skill at dream control. If you win, you shut out the external influence.


DX/Average Defaults: DX-5 or IQ-5. This is the ability to drive a specific type of ground vehicle. Make an IQ-based Driving roll for basic map reading, to diagnose simple malfunctions, or to recall rules of the road. You must specialize: Automobile: Any vehicle with three or more wheels that weighs less than 5 tons and does not move on rails. Defaults: Heavy Wheeled-2 or other Driving at -4. Construction Equipment: Any kind of bulldozer, crane, plow, etc. Default: other Driving at -5. Halftrack: Any vehicle that moves on tracks and either wheels or skids. Defaults: Tracked-2 or other Driving at -4. Heavy Wheeled: Any vehicle with three or more wheels that weighs 5 tons or more and does not move on rails. Defaults: Automobile-2 or other Driving at -4.


Hovercraft: Any kind of air-cushion vehicle. Default: other Driving at -5. Locomotive: Any vehicle that moves on conventional or maglev rails. Default: other Driving at -5. Mecha: Any kind of legged, bouncing, rolling, or slithering vehicle. Defaults: Battlesuit-3 or other Driving at -5. Motorcycle: Any powered one- or two-wheeled vehicle, including those with sidecars. Large motorcycles often have a Minimum ST, just like a weapon (see p. 270). Default: Bicycling-4. Tracked: Any vehicle that moves on tracks. Defaults: Halftrack-2 or other Driving at -4. Note that the ability to “drive” a team of animals is not Driving, but Teamster (p. 225). Modifiers: -2 or more for bad driving conditions; -2 or more for a vehicle in bad repair; -2 for an unfamiliar control system (e.g., an automatic when you are used to a manual); -4 or more for a vehicle of an unfamiliar type within your specialty (e.g., a race car when you are used to stock cars).

Dropping DX/Average Defaults: DX-3 or Throwing-4. This is the skill of dropping heavy objects on your foes while flying. Treat this as a ranged attack made from above. Learn Dropping if you wish to drop boulders and similar projectiles on individual opponents while on the wing. Use Artillery (Bombs) to attack areas with explosive ordnance, etc.

Economics IQ/Hard Defaults: IQ-6, Finance-3, Market Analysis-5, or Merchant-6. This is the study of the theory of money, markets, and financial systems. It is mainly an academic skill, but a successful skill roll allows you to predict the economic impact of events in the game world: the assassination of a political figure, the demolition of a power plant, the introduction of a new invention, etc. Adventurers with intelligence and military backgrounds frequently have some training in this skill.

Electrician/TL IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5 (Electrical)-3.



This is the skill of building, maintaining, and repairing electrical systems. Make a skill roll to diagnose an electrical fault, wire a building or vehicle, etc. Adventuring uses include damage control in combat (e.g., to restore power to a damaged vehicle system) and cutting the power to a building prior to clandestine activities. Note that electrical and electronic systems are not the same thing. The equivalent skill for electronics is Electronics Repair (p. 190). Modifiers: Equipment modifiers (p. 345).

Electronics Operation/TL† IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5, Electronics Repair (same)-5, or Engineer (Electronics)-5. This skill lets you use all electronic equipment within a known specialty.

Make a skill roll in an emergency situation or for “abnormal” use of equipment – not for ordinary, everyday use. (Exception: Unskilled users must always attempt their default roll!) You must specialize. Available specialties vary by game world, but might include: Communications (Comm): All forms of electronic communications technology: radios, satellite uplinks, laser communicators, etc. Includes knowledge of any standard, current communications codes appropriate to your background. These do not require a skill roll – although attempts to understand or use an unfamiliar code do require a roll. At TL5-7, this includes telegraphy: you can send or receive 2 words per minute (wpm) per point of skill at TL5, 3 wpm per point of skill at TL6-7. Electronic Warfare (EW): All signals-intelligence and jamming equipment, including electronic countermeasures (ECM) and electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM). In most game worlds, only intelligence agencies and the military teach this specialty – and only to individuals with suitable Military Rank (p. 30) or Security Clearance (p. 82). Force Shields: Portable, vehicular, base, and starship force shields and deflectors. Matter Transmitters (MT): All matter transmitters and teleporters. Critical failures can be disastrous, especially when transmitting living beings! Media: All forms of audio, film, and video editing equipment. If threedimensional video (“holographics”) or sensory recordings (“sensies”) exist in the setting, this specialty includes the ability to operate the relevant equipment. Treat different media as mutually unfamiliar technologies. Medical: All manner of electronic diagnostic and life-support equipment. Parachronic: Technological means of travel between dimensions or timelines. Psychotronics: Psionic technology, such as telepathic shields and amplifiers. Scientific: Laboratory electronics and survey gear. You are automatically familiar with the equipment used with


any scientific skill on which you have spent at least one point. Security: Both operating and circumventing all forms of alarms, security sensors, and area-surveillance technology. Sensors: Most forms of long-range detection gear, from air-defense radar to starship sensor suites. Certain highly specialized sensors (such as sonar, below) have their own specialties. Sonar: All types of acoustic detection and ranging gear (normally used underwater). Surveillance: All forms of concealable or remote surveillance gear: “bugs,” hidden cameras, long-range microphones, wiretaps, etc. Temporal: All manner of time machines. Critical failures can be disastrous for the time travelers! Make separate rolls to “lock onto” and transfer the travelers. These specialties default to one another at -4; however, the GM is free to rule that in his campaign, there is no default between exotic specialties (Parachronic, Psychotronics, etc.) and mundane ones (Media, Security, etc.). The technologies covered by a particular specialty vary with TL. For instance, Electronics Operation (Comm) covers telegraphs at TL5, telephones and radios at TL6, and digital communications systems at TL8 . . . and might cover faster-than-light or telepathic communicators at higher TLs. Familiarity (p. 169) is crucial here! Electronics Operation/TL8 (Sensors) covers both thermographs on fighter jets and ground-penetrating radars on satellites, but going from one to the other gives you -2 for type (thermograph to radar) and -2 for implementation (jet to satellite), for a net -4 to skill until you familiarize yourself with all the differences. Modifiers: Equipment modifiers (p. 345); -2 for an unfamiliar technology of a known type (e.g., radar when you are used to thermograph) or an unfamiliar implementation of a familiar technology (e.g., air-defense radar when you are used to weather radar); -1 to -10 if you have been away from the field for a long time (this varies by field) and have not had a chance to become familiar with the changes.


Skills for Design, Repair, and Use When choosing technological skills for your character, it can be helpful to bear in mind that such skills govern three distinct classes of activity: Design. An inventor, gadgeteer, or mad scientist requires skills that let him design and build new inventions, redesign existing ones, and deduce the function of (and reverse-engineer!) unknown technologies. The key skill here is Engineer – specialized in the inventor’s fields of interest – but Bioengineering (for biotechnology) and Computer Programming (for software) are equally appropriate. Repair. A craftsman or technician needs skills that enable him to troubleshoot and repair known devices, perform major overhauls and upgrades, install new equipment, and customize existing gear. The most important skills of this type are Armoury, Electrician, Electronics Repair, Machinist, and Mechanic. Use. A detective, soldier, spy, or similar professional needs skills that let him operate specialized equipment, conduct routine maintenance on his gear, and identify common makes and models (and their strengths and weaknesses). Such skills include Computer Operation, Electronics Operation, Environment Suit, Explosives, vehicle skills (Crewman, Driving, Shiphandling, etc.), and weapon skills (Artillery, Guns, etc.). These skills form “design-repair-use triads”; e.g., Engineer (Electronics)-Electronics Repair-Electronics Operation for electronic devices, Engineer (Vehicle)-Mechanic-Driving for vehicles, and Engineer (Small Arms)-Armoury-Guns for firearms. Cinematic adventurers with great depth of knowledge often have all three skills in a triad!

Electronics Repair/TL†




Defaults: IQ-5, Electronics Operation (same)-3, or Engineer (Electronics)-3.

Defaults: Special. Prerequisites: Mathematics (Applied) at TL5+, plus others as noted.

This is the ability to diagnose and repair known types of electronic equipment. Time required for each attempt is up to the GM. You must specialize in one of the areas listed under Electronics Operation (above), or in Computers (Electronics Repair (Computers) defaults to Computer Operation-5). These specialties default to one another at -4. Modifiers: Equipment modifiers (p. 345); -2 without plans or schematics; -2 for an unfamiliar technology or implementation (just as for Electronics Operation); -4 to modify a device away from its intended purpose.


This is the ability to design and build technological devices and systems. A successful roll lets you design a new system, diagnose a glitch, identify the purpose of a strange device, or improvise a gadget to solve a problem. Time required for each attempt is up to the GM. Note that engineers are designers and inventors; they are not necessarily skilled at the routine operation or maintenance of the things they design! For instance, Engineer (Small Arms) lets you design a new assault rifle, but you need Armoury skill to maintain it and Guns skill to shoot it. You must specialize. Possible fields include:


Artillery: Designing whatever passes for artillery at your TL, from trebuchets to smart missiles. Default: Armoury (Heavy Weapons)-6. Civil: Planning highways, aqueducts, buildings, etc. Default: Architecture-6. Clockwork: Designing wind-up gadgetry – watches, mechanical men, and the like. Default: Mechanic (Clockwork)-6. Combat: Building or removing fortifications, trenches, etc. Default: Explosives (Demolition)-6. Electrical: Designing electrical systems, such as power cells and transmission lines. Default: Electrician-6. Electronics: Designing and building electronic apparatus, from computers to starship sensor arrays. (The specific technologies involved – vacuum tubes, transistors, photonics, etc. – will depend on the tech level.) Default: Electronics Repair (any)-6. Materials: Concocting new structural materials. Prerequisites: Chemistry or Metallurgy. Defaults: Chemistry-6 or Metallurgy-6. Microtechnology: Designing micromachines. Default: Mechanic (Micromachines)-6. Mining: Designing underground structures. Defaults: Explosives (Demolition)-6 or Geology (any)-6. Nanotechnology: Designing nanomachines. Default: Mechanic (Nanomachines)-6. Parachronic: Designing apparatus for crossing dimensions or timelines. Prerequisite: Physics. Default: Electronics Operation (Parachronic)6, but there is no default if your society has not discovered dimensional travel. Psychotronics: Designing psionic technology, such as telepathic shields and amplifiers. Default: Electronics Operation (Psychotronics)-6, but there is no default for individuals from backgrounds where psionics do not exist. Robotics: Designing robotics and cybernetics. Default: Mechanic (Robotics)-6. Small Arms: Designing personal firearms, such as guns and portable rocket launchers. Default: Armoury (Small Arms)-6. Designing time Temporal: machines. Prerequisite: Physics. Default: Electronics Operation

(Temporal)-6, but there is no default for individuals from backgrounds without time travel! Vehicle Type: Designing a single, broad class of vehicle. Examples include Engineer (Automobiles), Engineer (Ships), and Engineer (Starships). Default: Mechanic (same vehicle type)-6. Engineer specialties normally default to one another at -4; however, the GM is free to rule that in his campaign, there is no default between exotic specialties (Nanotechnology, Parachronic, Psychotronics, etc.) and more mundane ones (Civil, Combat, Mining, etc.). Modifiers: Equipment modifiers (p. 345). Up to +5 to build a gadget if you can give the GM a good description of what you want it to do.

your Enthrallment skill vs. the Will of each audience member. If you win, you affect your audience – see the individual skill description for effects. If you lose or tie, there is no effect. However, if you critically fail, your audience instantly turns hostile! You may never learn these skills at a skill level higher than your Public Speaking skill. Audience Size: An “audience” can be one listener or a hundred – as many as can hear the tale. However, the number of audience members that you can enthrall at one sitting is limited to your Charisma level squared, to a maximum of 25 people at Charisma 5. Modifiers: All four Enthrallment skills are at -3 for Low Empathy (p. 142). If the player actually tells a good tale, the GM should reward him with +1 to +3 to the Public Speaking and Enthrallment rolls!

“Kill the king!” is acceptable; “Kill the king if he doesn’t accede to our demands!” is not. Captivate

Enthrallment Will/Hard Defaults: None. Prerequisites: Charisma 1 and Public Speaking at 12+. Bards in fantasy can often influence others through storytelling. The GM may choose to represent this ability using the four Enthrallment skills described below. Depending on the setting, these skills might be magical, psionic, or a cinematic form of hypnotism. Each has a time requirement, FP cost, and duration, and requires two skill rolls to use. At the outset of the tale, roll vs. Public Speaking skill; if you can’t grab your audience’s attention early on, you won’t have much of a chance of controlling them by the end. On a success, proceed to the Enthrallment skill roll; critical success gives +1 on that roll. On a failure, you may still attempt the Enthrallment roll, but at a penalty equal to your margin of failure. Critical failure means your Enthrallment attempt fails automatically. After the time required to enthrall has passed, roll a Quick Contest of

Will/Hard Defaults: None. Prerequisite: Suggest at 12+. This skill allows you to tell a story so skillfully that those listening lose their will and do whatever you want them to do. In effect, they believe themselves to be in the tale, and are vulnerable to being manipulated by you, the teller of the tale. If you win the Quick Contest, the audience becomes intensely loyal to you. They follow any direct order you give. In the absence of a direct order, they act in your best interest, as they understand it. If you tell someone to do something very hazardous, or that goes against his usual code of behavior (GM’s decision), he gets a Will-5 roll to break the captivation. Otherwise, he is your loyal supporter for all intents and purposes. Time: 30 minutes of uninterrupted storytelling. Fatigue Cost: 8 FP, whether successful or not. Duration: Captivation lasts until the subject becomes unconscious or falls


asleep, you become unconscious or fall asleep, you attack the subject, or the subject loses half his HP to injury.

Persuade Will/Hard Defaults: None. This ability allows you to bring an audience over to your point of view, granting you a bonus to your reaction rolls with them. You may use this skill whenever a reaction roll is called for. If you win the Quick Contest, add your margin of victory to any reaction roll those in the audience make regarding you – for any reason – to a maximum of +3 (+4 on a critical success). If you critically fail, the best possible reaction is Poor (see p. 560). Time: 1 minute. Fatigue Cost: 2 FP, whether successful or not. Duration: Until you do something to change the audience’s opinion!

Suggest Will/Hard Defaults: None. Prerequisite: Persuade at 12+. This ability lets you give your audience a single, simple suggestion. A suggestion should have no complex grammatical clauses – just a subject, verb, object, and at most two modifiers. “Kill the king!” is acceptable; “Kill the king if he doesn’t accede to our demands!” is not. A given subject gets +5 to resist if your suggestion goes against his personal safety, and +3 if it goes against his beliefs, convictions, or knowledge. If you win the Quick Contest, the audience members try to act on the suggestion to the best of their abilities – each assuming that the idea was his own. Time: 20 minutes of uninterrupted storytelling. Fatigue Cost: 6 FP, whether successful or not. Duration: 10 minutes – or longer, if you continue to talk to the audience and can make a successful Suggest roll every 10 minutes! Once the suggestion lapses, audience members only wonder why they acted the way they did if the suggestion was something they would never have done normally.


Sway Emotions Will/Hard Defaults: None. Prerequisite: Persuade at 12+. This ability allows you to instill the audience with any one emotion. Allowed emotions include anger, boredom, depression, disgust, fear, greed, hate, jealousy, joy, love, lust, patriotism, peace, sadness, and unrest. If you win the Quick Contest, your audience experiences the emotion you select. How they act as a result is up to the GM. Time: 10 minutes of uninterrupted storytelling. Fatigue Cost: 4 FP, whether successful or not. Duration: One hour.

Environment Suit/TL DX/Average Defaults: DX-5 and others. This is training in the use of a specific class of protective suit. Suits designed to shield the wearer from environmental or battlefield hazards frequently incorporate gadgets (such as autoinjectors and sensors) and lifesupport equipment. Some suits even contain motors to enhance ST or Move. As a result, you do not merely wear such gear – you operate it. Roll against Environment Suit skill to get into or out of your suit quickly. A successful roll halves the time required. To activate a specific subsystem of a suit, or to gauge whether a suit is in good repair, make an IQbased skill roll instead. When rolling against DX or any DX-based skill while suited up, use the lower of your Environment Suit skill and your actual skill level. For instance, if you have DX 14, Stealth15, and Vacc Suit-13, you will function at DX 13 and Stealth-13 while wearing a spacesuit. Particularly ungainly suits might give -1 or more to DX on top of this, regardless of skill level. On the other hand, some sleek, ultra-tech suits might not limit skills at all! However, Environment Suit is strictly the skill of donning and operating the suit. Familiarity with and knowledge of dangerous environments is covered by other skills: Free Fall, Hazardous Materials, Survival, etc.


Each suit type requires its own skill. Examples include: Battlesuit/TL: All kinds of powered battle armor and exoskeletons. Battle armor and exoskeletons are similar but not identical. If you only have experience with one, you are at -2 to operate the other until you gain familiarity (see Familiarity, p. 169). Diving Suit/TL: All types of hard diving suits (as opposed to the wetsuits and drysuits used with Scuba skill). This includes “open dress” gear at TL5 and “hard hat” gear at TL6, both of which use a sealed helmet and supplied air, but not always a full, sealed suit. At TL7+, this skill covers true underwater “hardsuits.” The GM may require Swimming rolls to maneuver while wearing such a suit. Default: Scuba-2. NBC Suit/TL: All forms of hazardous materials (“HazMat”) gear – including sealed, unpowered body armor that can be buttoned down against nuclear-biological-chemical (NBC) threats. Without this skill, you run the risk of misusing the equipment and being exposed to contamination. To improvise NBC gear, make an IQbased skill roll at -5 to -15 to skill. Vacc Suit/TL: Any kind of spacesuit. In addition to true vacuum suits, this includes suits intended for use in highpressure, corrosive, and poisonous atmospheres. Battlesuit, NBC Suit, and Vacc Suit default among themselves at -2. Diving Suit defaults to or from any other Environment Suit skill at -4. Note that unpowered, unsealed body armor never requires an Environment Suit skill.

Erotic Art DX/Average Defaults: DX-5 or Acrobatics-5. This represents general knowledge of advanced sexual technique. IQ-, HT-, and even ST-based rolls are common. Precise game effects are left to the GM’s discretion. Modifiers: +3 for Flexibility or +5 for Double-Jointed (p. 56); -3 for Killjoy (p. 140).


Escape DX/Hard Default: DX-6. This is the ability to slip out of ropes, handcuffs, and similar restraints. The first attempt to escape takes one minute; each subsequent attempt takes 10 minutes. The GM may apply a penalty for particularly secure bonds. For instance, modern police handcuffs would give -5 to Escape. You suffer only half these penalties if you dislocate the restrained limb (usually an arm). This requires (20 - skill) minutes of concentration, minimum one minute and a Will roll. However, if you fail your Escape roll by 3 or more when dislocating a limb, the limb suffers 1d damage. On a critical failure, you automatically take enough damage to cripple the limb! Modifiers: +3 for Flexibility or +5 for Double-Jointed (p. 56); any bonus for Slippery (p. 85).

Esoteric Medicine Per/Hard Default: Perception-6. This is the skill of treating illness and injury with techniques grounded in esoteric theory rather than analytical science. It is usually associated with a magical or spiritual tradition. The particulars vary by tradition, but might include acupuncture, massage, alchemical or herbal preparations, or such exercises as breath control and meditation. The effectiveness of Esoteric Medicine relative to Physician (p. 213) is up to the GM. It might be more effective (especially if it can channel real supernatural power), equivalent but different, or less effective. It should always be at least as good as First Aid (p. 195) – the attentions of a trained healer of any kind are preferable to bleeding to death! In TL5+ settings, Esoteric Medicine is often perceived as “quack” medicine, regardless of actual effectiveness. This skill might represent Ayurvedic medicine, chi treatment, Hermetic medicine, yin/yang healing, or any other historical or fictional healing discipline. In settings where multiple forms of treatment exist, healers must specialize in one specific tradition.

Exorcism Will/Hard Defaults: Will-6, Religious Ritual (any)-3, Ritual Magic (any)-3, or Theology (any)-3. This is the ability to drive a spirit from a possessed person or haunted location. It is not a magical skill, but a religious ritual. Exorcism is not specific to any one religion. A Malay witch doctor and a Catholic priest can both perform exorcisms; their relative effectiveness depends on the originating culture of the spirit. The length of the ritual is 15 minutes ¥ the spirit’s HT. Some spirits wait patiently through the ritual, anticipating the combat to come; others try to distract or even attack you before you can complete the ritual. Once the ritual is complete, roll against Exorcism skill. On a failure, the spirit remains and you must wait at least a week before you can repeat the ritual. On a critical failure, immediately roll 3d+10 on the Fright Check Table (p. 360). Even if you keep your sanity, you may never attempt to exorcise this particular spirit again. On a critical success, you immediately banish the spirit. On a regular success, you meet your opponent in a Quick Contest: your Exorcism skill vs. the higher of the spirit’s ST or Will.

When fighting a spirit in a living host, add higher of the ST or Will of the possession victim to your Exorcism skill as he tries to “push the spirit out.” If the spirit wins or ties, it retains its current status and you must wait at least a week before you can repeat the ritual. If you win, you drive the spirit from its haunt or victim. The spirit of a deceased mortal is laid to rest. For demons and similar entities, make a reaction roll. On a “Poor” or better reaction, the spirit flees in humiliation. On a “Bad” or worse reaction, the spirit immediately uses whatever resources it has to take vengeance on you and those nearby. If the exorcism fails at any stage, make an IQ roll afterward. A success means that you learned something about the spirit that will help you in your next attempt to banish that foe, giving you +2 on later skill rolls. You may only claim this bonus once for a particular spirit. Modifiers: -4 if you do not have one or more of Blessed (p. 40), Power Investiture (p. 77), or True Faith (p. 94); you might understand the ritual, but you lack holy support.

Expert Skill† IQ/Hard Defaults: None.


An Expert Skill represents crossdisciplinary knowledge of a single, narrow theme. When answering factual questions on that theme, you may substitute a roll against your Expert Skill for any IQ-based roll against any skill that has a default. Expert Skills do not exempt you from Cultural Familiarity (p. 23) or Language (p. 23) requirements, and never provide the ability to do practical tasks. Experts sometimes complement Expert Skills with related Area Knowledge skills (p. 176), but you must learn these separately. You must specialize by theme, and the GM is free to forbid any theme he feels is too broad. Some examples: Computer Security: Expertise at combating computer intrusion (“hacking”). Can stand in for Computer Operation, Cryptography, or Electronics Operation to spot “holes” in the security of a computer system. Use Computer Programming to patch or exploit such holes. Conspiracy Theory: The study of interlocking networks of conspiracies. Can substitute for Anthropology, Geography, History, Literature, or Occultism to answer questions about conspiracies, and can also work as Intelligence Analysis for this purpose (only). This does not include hidden inner secrets, which are the province of Hidden Lore (p. 199).


Egyptology: The study of ancient Egypt. Can function as Anthropology, Archaeology, History, Linguistics, or Occultism for that purpose. Epidemiology: The study of the spread of disease. Can serve as Biology, Diagnosis, Forensics, Geography, or Mathematics when deducing how a disease was spread. Hydrology: The study of a planet’s water. Can be used in place of Biology, Chemistry, Geography, Geology, or Meteorology to answer questions about precipitation, flooding, irrigation, etc. Military Science: General expertise on military capabilities. Can substitute for Artillery, Armoury, Strategy, or Tactics to answer questions about – but not use – weapons or strategies. Natural Philosophy: A general skill that usually replaces specific science skills (which might not even exist yet!) for scholars at TL1-4. Can be used in place of any science skill (e.g., Biology or Physics) to answer questions about how the universe is believed to work. Political Science: The academic study of politics. Can substitute for Geography, History, Law, Politics, or Sociology when performing political analysis. Psionics: The study of the psionic mind and brain. Can function as Biology, Diagnosis, Physician, Physiology, or Psychology when dealing with psi phenomena in living beings. Cannot substitute for Electronics Operation, Electronics Repair, and Engineer specialties that deal with psychotronics. Thanatology: The esoteric study of death. Can stand in for Anthropology, Archaeology, Occultism, or Theology when dealing with death and the dead. Xenology: General knowledge of the known races in your setting. Can substitute for Anthropology, History, Physiology, or Psychology to identify a member of a race different from your own, or to answer general questions about the race and its culture.

Explosives/TL† IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5 and others. This is the skill of working with explosives and incendiaries. You must specialize:


Demolition: The ability to prepare and set explosives in order to blow things up. Make a roll whenever you use explosives in this way. A failure indicates an error. The gravity of the error depends on the amount by which you failed; a badly failed roll in close quarters can blow you up! Time required varies – it takes only a couple of seconds to set a prepared charge, but it might take hours to demolish a large bridge or a skyscraper. When setting an explosive trap, use this skill rather than Traps. Rolls to set a “trap” fuse (e.g., a land mine) instead of a timed fuse are at -2. Defaults: Engineer (Combat) or (Mining) at -3. Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD): The ability to disarm and dispose of bombs and other explosives. When disarming a trap, roll a Quick Contest of your Explosives (EOD) skill vs. the Explosives (Demolition) skill of the person who created the device. A failure (or even a critical failure) does not necessarily mean an explosion – the GM can be much more creative than that! Sudden hissing noises, mysterious parts falling off, cramps, itches, and alarm bells are all possible in the right circ*mstances. It is best if the GM rolls the dice and describes the physical circ*mstances to the victim. Fright Checks are appropriate for the survivors of a failed EOD attempt! Prerequisite: DX 12+. Fireworks: The skill of making pyrotechnic devices – fireworks, flares, smoke bombs, flash grenades, etc. Most of these things can be used by anyone. Default: Chemistry-3. Nuclear Ordnance Disposal (NOD): The equivalent of Explosives (EOD) for nuclear devices. Disarming a military nuclear weapon is straightforward; disarming a homemade terrorist bomb might be more difficult. Only a critical failure verified by a second critical failure will result in a nuclear detonation. Any lesser failure will – at worst – detonate the highexplosive trigger and contaminate the immediate area with radioactive material . . . not that this is a great deal of consolation to those nearby. Underwater Demolition (UD): The ability to prepare and set explosives underwater. This is otherwise identical to Explosives (Demolition).


You usually need Scuba skill – or at least Swimming skill – to get into a position where you can use this skill. These specialties default to one another at -4 except for Demolition and UD, which default to one another at -2, and EOD and NOD, which also default to one another at -2. Modifiers: Equipment modifiers (p. 345); -1 to -5 for distractions (e.g., enemy fire or swarms of biting ants) or physical motion (e.g., a rocking boat or speeding bus). The time modifiers under Time Spent (p. 346) will often apply.

Falconry IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5 or Animal Handling (Raptors)-3. This is the skill of “hawking”: hunting small game with a trained hawk. It includes knowledge of hunting and training techniques, as well as how to care for a falcon. Finding a wild falcon’s nest in spring requires a week’s search and a successful Falconry roll; a nest has 1d-3 chicks.

Farming/TL IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5, Gardening-3.



This is the skill of growing things. It is usually used to earn a living, but you can also use it to answer theoretical questions about or solve problems related to agriculture.

Fast-Draw† DX/Easy Defaults: None. This skill lets you quickly draw a weapon from its holster, sheath, or hiding place. A successful roll means you ready the weapon instantly. This does not count as a combat maneuver; you can use the weapon to attack on the same turn. On a failure, you ready your weapon normally but may do nothing else on your turn. A critical failure means you drop the weapon! You must specialize in one of these weapon types: Force Sword, Knife, Long Arm (rifle, shotgun, submachine gun, etc.), Pistol, Sword (any onehanded blade larger than a knife), or

Two-Handed Sword. The GM may add Fast-Draw skills for other weapons (or even tools) that one could reasonably draw quickly. In addition to the above specialties, there are two Fast-Draw skills that allow you to reload missile weapons quickly: Fast-Draw (Arrow): Lets you ready a single arrow, bolt, or dart instantly. This reduces the time required to reload a bow, crossbow, or blowgun by one second. Fast-Draw/TL (Ammo): Reduces the time required to reload any kind of gun or beam weapon. The exact benefits depend on your weapon, but a successful roll always shaves at least one second off the reload time. This skill varies greatly with TL! At TL4, it covers powder-and-shot drills; at TL6+, it includes speed-loading techniques for detachable magazines; and at higher tech levels, it involves quickly replacing energy cells and attaching power cables. For the Arrow and Ammo specialties, failure means you drop the arrow or bolt, or accidentally discard one round of ammunition. On a critical failure, you drop the entire quiver, powder horn, ammo box, magazine, etc., scattering loose ammunition everywhere! Modifiers: Combat Reflexes (p. 43) gives +1 to all Fast-Draw specialties; Ham-Fisted (p. 138) gives -3 per level.

However, there are situations in which the GM could allow a roll on either skill. Modifiers: +2 for Voice (p. 97); -3 for Low Empathy (p. 142); -1 for Oblivious (p. 146); -1 to -4 for Shyness (p. 154); -2 for Stuttering (p. 157); -5 for Truthfulness (p. 159). The GM may ask you for details of the story you are using, rather than just let you say, “I’m using Fast-Talk.” Your approach and the plausibility of the story may further modify the roll, at the GM’s discretion.

Filch DX/Average Defaults: DX-5, Pickpocket-4, or Sleight of Hand-4. This skill lets you steal objects that are sitting in plain sight . . . without being spotted. Roll against skill to shoplift, snatch documents off a desk, etc. If someone is actively watching the item you wish to snatch, you must win a Quick Contest of Filch vs. his Vision roll (or Observation skill, p. 211) to perform the theft unnoticed. Filch only covers the theft itself. The GM might require rolls against Stealth to get close enough to make the attempt and Holdout to conceal stolen objects afterward. Modifiers: +3 if the light is dim; +3 if you have a confederate to distract attention.


Fast-Talk IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5 or Acting-5. This is the skill of talking others into doing things against their better judgment. It is not taught (intentionally, that is) in school; you study it by working as a salesman, confidence man, lawyer, etc. In any situation that calls for a reaction roll, you may make an Influence roll against Fast-Talk instead; see Influence Rolls (p. 359). If you have Fast-Talk at level 20 or better, you get +2 on all reaction rolls where you’re allowed to talk! Note that Fast-Talk differs from Acting (p. 174). In general, Fast-Talk is used to get someone to make a snap decision in your favor, while Acting is used for long-term dissimulation.

IQ/Hard Defaults: Accounting-4, Economics-3, or Merchant-6. This is the skill of managing money. It is a practical application of Economics (p. 189), much as Engineer skill is a practical application of Physics. A successful skill roll lets you broker a financial deal, raise capital for a new corporation, balance a budget, etc. Modifiers: Business Acumen and Mathematical Ability both provide a bonus.

Fire Eating DX/Average Defaults: None.


This is the performance skill of extinguishing flames in your mouth without burning yourself. Make a skill roll for each item you wish to extinguish. On a success, you put out the flames. On a failure, you take 1d-3 damage (minimum 1) to your mouth. This skill also includes fire breathing: igniting a stream of fuel blown from the mouth. At the GM’s option, you may use this as an attack (1d-3 damage).

First Aid/TL IQ/Easy Defaults: IQ-4, Esoteric Medicine, Physician, or Veterinary-4. This is the ability to patch up an injury in the field (see Recovery, p. 423). Make a skill roll to halt bleeding, suck out poison, give artificial respiration to a drowning victim, etc. Unusual problems must be identified using Diagnosis skill first. Modifiers: Equipment modifiers (p. 345); physiology modifiers (p. 181).

Fishing Per/Easy Default: Perception-4. This is the ability to catch fish – with a net, hook and line, or whatever method is used in your culture. If you have proper equipment and there are fish to be caught, a successful roll catches them. If you lack equipment, you can improvise. Modifiers: Equipment modifiers (p. 345).

Flail see Melee Weapon, p. 208

Flight HT/Average Default: HT-5. Prerequisite: Flight (p. 56).


This skill represents training for endurance flying. Use the better of Flight or HT when rolling to avoid fatigue due to flying. When traveling long distances, a successful Flight roll increases the distance traveled by 20%. If a group of fliers is traveling together, all must make the Flight roll in order to get the increased distance.


Flying Leap

Forensics/TL IQ/Hard

Defaults: None. Prerequisites: Trained By A Master or Weapon Master, and both Jumping and Power Blow. This skill allows you to make incredible leaps. It costs 1 FP per attempt, successful or not. On a success, you may immediately attempt a jump. Use the standard jumping rules (see Jumping, p. 352), but triple your jumping distance. On a failure, you may still attempt the jump, but you receive no bonus and make all jumping-related rolls at -5. On a critical failure, you fall down! You may use Flying Leap to jump into someone as part of an attack. Such attacks are at an extra -2 to hit, but if you do hit, triple your ST for damage and knockback purposes. In a slam or collision, calculate Move from jumping distance as described for Super Jump (p. 89), and use this velocity to calculate damage. Modifiers: -10 if used instantly, dropping to -5 after 1 turn of concentration, -4 after 2 turns, -3 after 4 turns, -2 after 8 turns, -1 after 16 turns, and no penalty after 32 turns.

Force Sword see Melee Weapon, p. 208

Force Whip see Melee Weapon, p. 208

Forced Entry DX/Easy Defaults: None. This is the ability to kick in doors and windows, or demolish them with a crowbar, ram, or sledgehammer, without necessarily being adept at melee combat. Make a skill roll to hit an inanimate object with your foot or an impact weapon. Add +1 per die to basic thrust or swing damage if you have this skill at DX+1, +2 per die if you know it at DX+2 or better. Add a similar bonus (+1 or +2) to ST rolls made for forced entry. The damage bonus also applies when you use Melee Weapon skills to wreck inanimate objects out of combat. For subtle break-ins, use Lockpicking skill (p. 206).


IQ/Hard Defaults: IQ-6 or Criminology-4. This is the ability to apply the principles of forensic science and criminalistics, such as the computation of bullet paths and the microscopic or chemical analysis of clues. Some disciplines require other skills. For instance, a forensic pathologist performing an autopsy would roll against Surgery skill.

Forgery/TL IQ/Hard Defaults: IQ-6 or Counterfeiting-2. This is the ability to create falsified documents (identity cards, passports, etc.). It is not taught except by intelligence agencies and the underworld – although you can always study it on your own. The time required to create a forgery ranges from days to weeks (GM decides). When you use a forged document, make your Forgery roll each time it is inspected – unless you roll a critical success on your first attempt. Failure means someone spots the forgery. Some tasks require DX-based skill rolls, in which case modifiers for High Manual Dexterity (p. 59) or HamFisted (p. 138) apply. The GM may allow Forgery to default to a suitable Artist specialty at -5 if you are doing the work entirely by hand. Modifiers: Equipment modifiers (p. 345); +3 if you merely altered a genuine document; -5 if you did not have a sample to copy. The GM may also assign modifiers based on the severity of the inspection; a routine border check, for instance, would give a +5 bonus.

Fortune-Telling† IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5, Fast-Talk-3, or Occultism-3. This is the art of interviewing someone in order to learn more about his lifestyle and personality, and then using this information to make an “educated guess” about his future that you can pass off as supernatural divination. Suitable props – star charts,


tea leaves, etc. – can enhance the illusion. Knowledge of traditional occult or religious beliefs (especially those of your subject) can also lend an air of legitimacy. With the GM’s permission, you can sometimes use Fortune-Telling in place of Fast-Talk (by making predictions that guide the subject toward a particular course of action), or Interrogation or Psychology (by asking the subject leading questions under the pretense of telling his fortune). This is only possible if the subject believes you are a genuine fortune-teller and you take the time to do a full “reading” for him. You must specialize in a particular mantic art. Available specialties include Astrology, Augury (interpretation of natural omens, such as flocks of birds), Crystal Gazing, Dream Interpretation, Feng Shui, Palmistry, and Tarot. This skill is not a paranormal talent, and the GM is under no obligation to supply you with hints of future events. You might wish to learn this skill if you have actual divinatory abilities, though, as it enables you to present your predictions in a culturally acceptable way. “I saw it in the stars” may be less likely to get you burned as a witch than “I cast a spell”! Modifiers: +1 for Sensitive or +3 for Empathy (p. 51); any Charisma bonus; -3 if using Fortune-Telling in place of Fast-Talk, Interrogation, or Psychology.

Forward Observer/TL IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5, Artillery (any)-5, and others. This is the skill of being a “spotter” for artillery. It includes locating targets (with map and compass at TL6-, global positioning systems and satellite imagery at TL7+), marking targets (using smoke, a laser designator, etc.), matching ordnance to target for best effect, and calling in corrections to any fire you personally observe. Failure means the ordnance misses the target; critical failures result in severe “collateral damage” or “friendly fire” incidents. The very worst critical failures (GM’s decision) drop the ordnance on your position!

At higher tech levels, Forward Observer is less about observing targets and more about operating specialized technology such as drones, GPS, and laser designators. To remotely pilot a drone or use a laser designator to direct “smart” munitions onto a target, make a DX-based skill roll. At TL7+, Forward Observer defaults to Electronics Operation (any)-5. Modifiers: Equipment modifiers (p. 345); -2 if you are unfamiliar with the artillery (e.g., aircraft bombs when you are used to naval guns); -3 per 500 yards between you and the target – but divide the actual range by the magnification of any vision aid first.

Gambling IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5 or Mathematics (Statistics)-5. This is skill at playing games of chance. A successful Gambling roll can (among other things) tell you if a game is rigged, identify a fellow gambler in a group of strangers, or “estimate the odds” in any tricky situation. When you gamble against the house, make a skill roll (the GM will secretly modify this roll if the odds are poor!). When you gamble against someone else, roll a Regular Contest of Gambling (p. 197) until one of you wins.

People often stake vast sums on games, and it might be possible to earn a living as a professional gamer. Free Fall DX/Average Defaults: DX-5 or HT-5. This is the ability to operate in a free-fall (zero-gravity) environment. Roll against the higher of HT or Free Fall when you first enter free fall; see Space Adaptation Syndrome (p. 434) for the effects of failure. In addition, whenever you make a DX or DX-based skill roll in free fall, use the lower of Free Fall and your DX or skill. For instance, if you had Free Fall-14 and Karate-16, you would roll at 14 or less to land a punch. Modifiers: +2 for 3D Spatial Sense (p. 34).

Freight Handling/TL IQ/Average Default: IQ-5. This is the skill of supervising the loading and unloading of vehicles (laborers do not require this skill – just their foreman). A successful skill roll cuts the time required by 20%. Also roll against Freight Handling skill any time there is doubt as to whether an item of cargo was lost or damaged; on a success, it made the journey intact.

Sleight of Hand skill (p. 221) is helpful if you want to cheat! To spot a cheater, roll a Quick Contest of your Gambling or Vision roll, whichever is higher, vs. your opponent’s Sleight of Hand skill (for card or dice tricks) or IQ (for other kinds of cheating). Modifiers: +1 to +5 for familiarity with the game being played; -1 to -5 if the game is rigged against you; -3 for Killjoy (p. 140), since you don’t care if you win or lose.

Games† IQ/Easy Default: IQ-4. This is the ability to play a game well. It includes knowledge of rules, etiquette, and tournament regulations. You must specialize in a particular game; possibilities include traditional board games (such as chess, Go, hnefatafl, and mankala), card games, war games, and computer games. Many cultures regard the ability to play one or more games skillfully as a worthwhile social accomplishment. People often stake vast sums on games, and it might be possible to earn a living as a professional gamer. Games may also be played to settle


disputes. In a fantasy world, a powerful monster or wizard might even challenge a hero to a game – with his life or the lives of his companions at stake! Knowledge of the rules of a given sport is also a Games skill, but unlike other Games skills, sports specialties only allow you to judge an event. To play, learn the associated Sports (p. 222) or Combat Sport (p. 184) skill. As a referee, roll against skill to adjudicate a match, spot a subtle foul, determine the winner in a “photo finish” situation, etc. As an athlete, you can use Games to make an Influence roll (see Influence Rolls, p. 359) when dealing with a referee or judge, but this use is always at -3 or worse. When you take a sports specialty, specify both the sport and the league or tournament type; e.g., Games (NFL Football) or Games (Olympic Judo). The rules of different leagues within the same sport default to one another at -2. Modifiers: Cultural Familiarity modifiers (p. 23). Long-lived games have a body of knowledge that grows through time; therefore, when gamers from different times compete, the player from later in the timeline gets +1 to effective skill.

Gardening IQ/Easy Defaults: IQ-4 or Farming-3. This is the ability to care for plants on a small scale. (For large-scale crops, use Farming skill, p. 194.) A skill roll lets you grow food, medicinal herbs, attractive flowers and trees, etc. Modifiers: -2 to -4 for an unfamiliar method (e.g., hydroponics or bonsai when you’re used to your back yard), crop (herbs, trees, and vegetables all differ), or geographical region. These three penalties are cumulative!

Garrote DX/Easy Default: DX-4. This is the ability to strangle a victim with a rope or a wire. See Special Melee Weapon Rules (p. 404) for details. Note that you cannot use a garrote to parry.


Geography/TL† IQ/Hard Defaults: IQ-6 and others.

understand one simple idea he is attempting to get across to you. Gesture is not suited to complex communication, however.

This is the study of the physical, political, and economic divisions of a planet, and how they interact. It is part physical science, part social science. You must specialize:

Modifiers: Cultural Familiarity modifiers (p. 23) definitely apply! Different cultures develop distinct gesture vocabularies.

Physical: The study of the physical properties of a planetary surface. A physical geographer could answer questions about climate, terrain, and so forth. You must further specialize by planet type; see Planet Types (p. 180). Defaults: Geology (same planet type)-4 or Meteorology (same planet type)-4. Political: The study of political regions – their borders, natural resources, industries, etc. A political geographer could answer questions about land claims, overpopulation, regional economic disparities, transportation networks, etc. Default: Economics-4. Regional: The study of all of the above, but specific to a single region: New York, the United States, planet Earth, etc. The depth of knowledge decreases with the size of the region (see Area Knowledge, p. 176). Default: the relevant Area Knowledge skill at -6.

Group Performance†

These specialties default among themselves at -5.

Geology/TL† IQ/Hard Defaults: IQ-6, Geography (Physical)-4, or Prospecting-5. This is the science dealing with the structure of planets – their crust, mantle, and core. A geologist knows about minerals, oil, ores, etc.; about earthquakes and volcanoes; and about fossils. In the field, he can attempt to find water by using an “eye for country” (see Survival, p. 223). You must specialize by planet type. See Planet Types (p. 180) for details.

Gesture IQ/Easy Default: IQ-4. This is the ability to communicate through improvised hand signals. A successful skill roll will let you convey one simple idea to another person, or


IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5 and others. This is the ability to arrange a performance and direct a group of performers in its execution – in rehearsal, in a studio, or before a live audience. A successful roll means the performance is pleasing. You must specialize in a particular performing art. All specialties have prerequisites: the specific skills listed below, plus any one of Diplomacy, Intimidation, or Leadership. Choreography: The ability to instruct and lead a group of dancers. Prerequisite: Dancing. Default: Dancing-2. Conducting: The ability to coordinate a group of musicians. Choirs, swing bands, symphony orchestras, etc. are different familiarities; see Familiarity (p. 169). Prerequisites: Any two Musical Instrument skills, or one Musical Instrument and Singing. Defaults: Musical Instrument-2 or Singing-2. Directing: The ability to direct a group of actors. Film, opera, television, and theater are different familiarities. Prerequisite: Performance. Default: Performance-5. Fight Choreography: Similar to Choreography, but for Stage Combat (p. 222) instead of Dancing. Prerequisite: Stage Combat. Default: Stage Combat-2.

Gunner/TL† DX/Easy Default: DX-4. This is the ability to use a heavy weapon, usually one mounted on a tripod or a vehicle, to make a direct-fire attack – that is, to aim and fire at a target to which you have a line of sight. For indirect fire, use Artillery skill (p. 178). Roll against Gunner skill to hit the target.


Make an IQ-based skill roll to take immediate action (e.g., clear a stoppage or restart a crashed targeting computer), should your weapon fail. Loaders can make ST-based skill rolls to improve the rate of fire of certain crew-served weapons; see individual weapon descriptions for details. You must specialize by weapon type. The available specialties vary by TL, but include one or more of: Beams: Any kind of heavy directedenergy weapon: laser, particle beam, etc. Cannon: Any kind of heavy projectile weapon – e.g., the main gun of a tank or an ultra-tech railgun on a starship – that fires single shots. Catapult: Any kind of large, directfire mechanical bolt-thrower, such as a ballista. Machine Gun: Any kind of heavy projectile weapon capable of firing bursts. Rockets: Any kind of free-flight rocket fired from a mount. These specialties default to one another at -4. The weapons covered by each specialty vary by TL. For instance, Gunner (Machine Gun) covers hand-cranked Gatling guns at TL5, automatic machine guns at TL6, autocannon at TL7, and electromagnetic machine guns at TL9+. Familiarity is crucial here! Gunner/TL7 (Machine Gun) covers both tripod-mounted machine guns and aircraft autocannon, but going from one to the other gives you -2 for weapon type (machine gun to autocannon), -2 for aiming system (open sights to HUD), and -2 for mount (tripod to hull mount), for a net -6 to skill until you familiarize yourself with all the differences. Modifiers: All applicable ranged combat modifiers; -2 for an unfamiliar aiming system (e.g., a camera when you’re used to open sights) or mount (e.g., a tripod when you’re used to a turret), or for an unfamiliar weapon of a known type (e.g., .30-cal when you are used to .50s); -4 or more for a weapon in bad repair.

Guns/TL† DX/Easy Default: DX-4.

This is the ability to use a handheld chemical-propellant or massdriver projectile weapon. Roll against Guns skill to hit your target. Make an IQ-based skill roll to take immediate action (e.g., eject a dud round), should your weapon fail. You must specialize by weapon type. The available specialties vary by TL, but include one or more of: Grenade Launcher (GL): Any largebore, low-powered small arm that fires a bursting projectile. Includes under-barrel grenade launchers, flare pistols, and ultra-tech “tanglers.” Gyroc: Any kind of small arm that fires miniature rockets. Light Anti-Armor Weapon (LAW): All forms of rocket launchers and recoilless rifles. Light Machine Gun (LMG): Any machine gun fired from the hip or a bipod. Musket: Any kind of smoothbore long arm (usually, but not always, a black powder weapon) that fires a solid projectile. Pistol: All kinds of handguns, including derringers, pepperboxes, revolvers, and automatics, but not machine pistols. Rifle: Any kind of rifled long arm – assault rifle, hunting rifle, sniper rifle, etc. – that fires a solid projectile. Shotgun: Any kind of smoothbore long arm that fires multiple projectiles (flechettes, shot, etc.). Submachine Gun (SMG): All short, fully automatic weapons that fire pistol-caliber ammunition, including machine pistols. Most of these specialties default to one another at -2, but defaults involving GL, Gyroc, or LAW are at -4 in either direction. The weapons covered by each specialty vary by TL. For example, Guns (Rifle) covers muzzleloaders at TL4, lever actions at TL5, and self-loaders at TL6+. In particular, ammunition varies with TL, from black powder and loose shot at TL4, to smokeless powder cartridges at TL6, to power cells and metallic slivers for TL9+ electromagnetic guns. Familiarity is crucial here! Guns (Rifle) covers both bolt-action 12.7mm sniper rifles and 5.56mm assault rifles, but going from one to the other gives you -2 for weapon type (12.7mm to 5.56mm), -2 for action

(bolt-action to self-loader), and -2 for grip (bipod to hand-held), for a total of -6 to skill until you familiarize yourself with all the differences. Modifiers: All applicable ranged combat modifiers; -2 for an unfamiliar action (e.g., an automatic when you’re used to a revolver) or grip (e.g., a shoulder-fired antitank weapon when you’re used to a bipod), or for an unfamiliar weapon of a known type (e.g., a 5.56mm rifle when you are used to a 7.62mm rifle); -4 or more for a weapon in bad repair.

Hazardous Materials/TL† IQ/Average Default: IQ-5.

tartans, and other emblems. A successful roll lets you recognize a knight or a noble from his banner or shield, create attractive and proper arms (without conflicting with existing designs), etc. In some settings, you might have to specialize in a particular type of Heraldry: Coats of Arms (the usual specialty, described above), Corporate Logos (defaults to Current Affairs (Business)-3), or even Graffiti Tags (defaults to Streetwise-3). Modifiers: Cultural Familiarity modifiers (p. 23). Up to +5 to recognize a well-known design, and down to -5 for an obscure design or one that was retired long ago.

Herb Lore/TL

This is the skill of transporting, storing, and disposing of hazardous materials (“HazMat”). It includes preparing the records that accompany HazMat shipments; applying and identifying warning labels and markings; and knowledge of countermeasures, antidotes, and containment and decontamination procedures. (To operate personal protective gear, use the NBC Suit skill, p. 192.) You must specialize by type of HazMat. Common specialties are Biological, Chemical, and Radioactive, but more exotic options (e.g., Magical or Nanotech) may exist in some settings. Mundane specialties default to one another at -5; exotic specialties often have no default at all. Whenever you deal with HazMat in any capacity, roll against the lower of the skill used for the task (Driving, Freight Handling, etc.) and the applicable Hazardous Materials specialty or default. Note that the IQ-5 default represents any layman’s knowledge of household hazards. HazMat professionals deliberately keep certain aspects of this skill (notably HazMat markings) obscure to avoid alarming the general public. The default does not apply when dealing with such things.

Heraldry IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5 or Savoir-Faire (High Society)-3. This is the skill of recognizing and designing coats of arms, crests, flags,


IQ/Very Hard Defaults: None. Prerequisite: Naturalist. This is the ability to manufacture herbal concoctions that have magical effects – healing balms, love potions, etc. It only exists in magical game worlds, where it functions much as Alchemy skill (p. 174). Unlike Alchemy, Herb Lore does not include the ability to analyze “elixirs.” On the other hand, an expert at this skill can locate magical ingredients for free in the wild by making a few Naturalist rolls, while an alchemist requires rare and expensive materials (such as alkahest, dragon’s blood, gemstones, and gold) to do his work.

Hidden Lore† IQ/Average Defaults: None. This skill represents knowledge that is lost, deliberately hidden, or simply neglected. Whatever the reason, the general public is unaware of it. It is only available to those who study it specifically. You must specialize in a particular body of secret knowledge. If you wish to enter play with Hidden Lore skills, you must account for this specific knowledge in your character story. The GM might even require you to purchase an Unusual Background before you can learn Hidden Lore skills. Of course, the GM is also free to forbid Hidden Lore skills to starting characters . . . or to PCs in general!


To acquire Hidden Lore in play, you must find a reliable source of relevant information. The GM may choose to tie skill increases in Hidden Lore to specific acts – such as reading moldy tomes – instead of allowing you to spend points freely. For instance, an ancient manuscript might let you spend up to eight points (and no more) on a specific Hidden Lore skill. Remember that most Hidden Lore is secret because somebody powerful wants it kept that way. Thus, discussing or revealing your knowledge can be extremely hazardous. Possible Hidden Lore specialties include: Conspiracies: You know details about the conspiracies that underlie every aspect of society. This is factual knowledge (e.g., truths about the Illuminati), not the ability to analyze conspiracies. Only available in settings where vast conspiracies really do exist. Demon Lore: You know the secrets of Hell, the goals of demons in the mortal world, and possibly even the names of specific demons. Faerie Lore: You have detailed knowledge of the faeries and their secret kingdom(s). Spirit Lore: You know about ghosts and other spirit entities – names, motivations, etc.

Hiking HT/Average Default: HT-5. This skill represents training for endurance walking, hiking, and marching. It includes knowledge of how to pace yourself in different conditions, and how best to carry a pack. Make a Hiking roll before each day’s march; on a success, increase the distance traveled by 20%. The GM may allow bonuses for good maps and good walking shoes, but not for terrain. If a party is traveling together, all must make the Hiking roll in order to get the increased distance. See Hiking (p. 351).

• A limited geographical region – no larger than a small nation – over multiple eras. Examples: History (Bavarian), History (Irish), or History (New York State). • A single era (e.g., Victorian period, 20th century) and one of a broad geographical region (e.g., Europe), a culture (e.g., Muslim), or an idea (e.g., economic, esoteric, or military). Examples: History (20th-Century American), History (Ottoman Muslim), or History (Napoleonic Military). The sheer variety of possible specialties makes it impossible to list all possible defaults. In general, if two specialties overlap at all, then GM should permit a default at -2 to -4.

Hobby Skill DX or IQ/Easy Default: DX-4 or IQ-4, depending on the controlling attribute. Many fields of study have little to do with adventuring or making a living – but people study them nonetheless. Each of these is a separate Hobby Skill. Those that require agility or a delicate touch (e.g., juggling, kite flying, needlepoint, and origami) are DX/Easy skills that default to DX-4, while those that focus on knowledge and trivia (e.g., comic books, rock music, science fiction, and tropical fish) are IQ/Easy skills that default to IQ-4. A few points in a Hobby Skill can make roleplaying more fun – and possibly come in handy once in a while. You do not need a teacher to learn or improve a Hobby Skill. However, you cannot learn skills defined elsewhere in this chapter as Hobby Skills.


History† IQ/Hard Default: IQ-6. This is the study of the recorded past (compare Archaeology skill,


p. 176). A successful skill roll lets you answer questions about history, and might (at the GM’s option) allow you to remember a useful parallel: “Ah, yes. Hannibal faced a situation like this once, and here’s what he did . . .” You must specialize. There are two general classes of specialty:

IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5 or Sleight of Hand-3. This is the skill of concealing items on your person or on other people


(usually with their cooperation). An item’s size and shape govern its concealability. Some examples: +4: A BB-sized jewel, a postage stamp. +3: A pea-sized jewel. +2: One lockpick, a huge jewel, a dime, a TL9+ computer disk, a letter. +1: A set of lockpicks, a silver dollar. 0: A TL8 floppy disk or CD, without case. -1: A dagger, a slingshot, the tiniest handgun or grenade. -2: An average handgun (e.g., a Luger), a grenade, a large knife. -3: A submachine gun, a shortsword, a short carbine. -4: A broadsword, an assault rifle. -5: A bastard sword, a battle rifle. -6: A crossbow, a heavy sniper rifle. Things that move or make noise give an additional -1 or more to skill. Clothing also modifies effective skill. A Carmelite nun in full habit (+5 to skill) could conceal a bazooka or a battle-axe from an eyeball search. A Las Vegas showgirl in costume (-5 to skill) would have trouble hiding even a dagger. Of course, the showgirl might escape search entirely (unless the guards were bored) because “She obviously couldn’t hide anything in that outfit!” Full nudity is -7 to skill. A proper concealment holster helps conceal a weapon; use the equipment modifiers on p. 345. Clothing designed specifically to hide things gives a bonus of up to +4. To spot a concealed item, roll a Quick Contest of Search skill vs. Holdout. Search defaults to Perception-5 if you haven’t studied it. See Search (p. 219) for additional rules.

Housekeeping IQ/Easy Default: IQ-4. This is the ability to manage a household. It covers both home economics and domestic chores: cleaning, cooking (but not haute cuisine, which requires the Cooking skill), minor repairs (any routine maintenance task that calls for a roll against Carpentry, Sewing, or a similar skill at +4 or better), etc. The main use of Housekeeping is to qualify for the job

of “homemaker,” but it can come in handy on adventures – for instance, to clean up evidence!

Hypnotism IQ/Hard Defaults: None. This is the skill of inducing a suggestible state in another person through verbal or mechanical means. It requires five seconds and a successful skill roll to use. If you fail on a cooperative subject, you may try again. The second attempt takes five minutes, and the roll is at -5. If this attempt fails, you may not try to hypnotize the subject again that day. A successful Hypnotism attempt puts the subject to sleep. This counts as an anesthetic for the purpose of Surgery. At the GM’s option, further Hypnotism rolls might help the subject remember something he had forgotten, while Psychology rolls might help him get over mental problems. A hypnotized individual is extremely suggestible. Roll a Quick Contest of Hypnotism vs. the victim’s Will for each suggestion. The subject resists suggestions that threaten his life or his loved ones, or that go strongly against his character, at +5. You may also give “posthypnotic suggestions,” instructing the subject to do something in response to a trigger after the hypnosis ends. The subject’s resistance roll for such suggestions takes place when he encounters the trigger. He resists at +1 to Will per week since he was hypnotized. You cannot use Hypnotism as an attack, except in highly cinematic games. You can use it on an unaware or unwilling subject out of combat, but he resists at Will+5. If he resists the initial attempt, he is considered uncooperative, and you may not make a second attempt that day. A subject who is unfamiliar with Hypnotism might not know what you attempted, but he suspects something – possibly witchcraft! In all cases, a hypnotic trance lasts 1d hours unless you end it sooner. Modifiers: +2 if you send hypnotic suggestions via Telesend (see Telecommunication, p. 91), since voices in the head are harder to ignore.

Immovable Stance DX/Hard Defaults: None. Prerequisite: Trained By A Master. This skill allows you to anchor yourself to the ground by properly channeling your chi, using secret balancing techniques, etc. Make a skill roll whenever an attack (e.g., a shove or the Push skill, p. 216) would result in knockback or a fall. On a success, you neither experience knockback nor fall down. On a failure, you are knocked back but still get the usual DX roll to avoid falling down. On a critical failure, you automatically suffer full knockback and you fall down. This skill also helps against attacks with the Judo skill (p. 203). If you fail your active defense (or choose not to defend) against a Judo throw, your attacker must win a Quick Contest of Judo vs. your Immovable Stance skill, or his throw fails. Modifiers: -1 per yard of potential knockback; +4 for Perfect Balance (p. 74).

Innate Attack† DX/Easy Default: DX-4. This skill represents trained ability with a “built-in” ranged attack: fiery breath, super-powered energy bolts, etc. Learn it to improve your odds of hitting with Afflictions (p. 35), Bindings (p. 40), Innate Attacks (p. 61), magical jets and missiles, and similar attacks that originate from you as opposed to a weapon in your hand. Roll against skill to hit. You must specialize: Beam: Any energy blast, magical jet, etc. emitted from the hands. To use this skill, you must have at least one unrestrained hand (although it need not be empty). Breath: Any attack emitted from the mouth, such as dragon’s fire or acidic sputum. To use this skill, you cannot be gagged and you must be facing your target. Gaze: Any attack emitted from the eyes – heat vision, a petrifying stare, etc. To use this skill, you cannot be blindfolded and you must be facing your target.


Projectile: Any solid projectile or pseudo-solid energy bolt (e.g., Fireball spell) emitted from the hands. To use this skill, you must have at least one unrestrained hand (although it need not be empty). These specialties default to one another at -2. You use this skill to direct your attack, not to activate it; therefore, restrictions such as “you cannot be gagged” apply strictly to your ability to make ranged attacks. If you can trigger your attack while restrained, no skill roll is needed to attack your restraints! You can only learn this skill for ranged attacks. Use Brawling (p. 182) to improve your odds with abilities that require a touch.

Intelligence Analysis/TL IQ/Hard Defaults: IQ-6 or Strategy (any)-6. This is the ability to analyze and interpret intelligence data. It allows you to deduce enemy plans and capabilities, evaluate the accuracy of information, rate the reliability of sources, etc. In most game worlds, only intelligence, military, and security services teach this skill – often only to those with a minimum level of Rank or Security Clearance. The GM makes all Intelligence Analysis rolls in secret. On a success, he provides details about the significance and accuracy of your data, or insights into what it means in terms of enemy planning. When you encounter deliberately falsified data, the GM rolls a secret Quick Contest: your Intelligence Analysis vs. the enemy’s skill at disinformation (Forgery, Propaganda, etc.). If you win, the GM provides details on precisely what is wrong with the information. It is up to you to deduce what this means, however! This skill has nothing to do with gathering intelligence. Use Current Affairs (p.186) and Research (p. 217) to sift through public sources; Forensics (p. 196) and Search (p. 219) to find physical clues; Observation (p. 211) for human surveillance; and Electronics Operation (p. 189) to work with the satellite imagery, communications intercepts, and related “technical means” common at TL7+.


You may take an optional specialty (p. 169) in one particular type of intelligence. A useful specialty at TL6+ is Intelligence Analysis (Traffic Analysis): identifying the purpose and organization of targets by examining intercepted communications traffic. Modifiers: -1 to -5 for incomplete information; -3 if all your information comes from a single source; -3 for intelligence concerning an arcane scientific or bureaucratic principle, unless you have skill in that area (e.g., Engineer (Electronics) for intelligence regarding a radar installation).

Interrogation IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5, Intimidation-3, or Psychology-4. This is the ability to question a prisoner. Only intelligence agencies, police and prison services, the military, and the underworld teach this skill. Roll a Quick Contest of Interrogation vs. the prisoner’s Will for each question. This requires 5 minutes per question. If you win, you get a truthful answer. If you tie or lose, the victim remains silent or lies. If you lose by more than five points, he tells you a good, believable lie! The GM roleplays the prisoner (or, if you are the prisoner, the GM will roleplay the interrogator) and makes all die rolls in secret. Modifiers: -5 if the prisoner’s loyalty to his leader or cause is “Very Good” or “Excellent”; -3 for Low Empathy (p. 142); +2 for a lengthy interrogation (over two hours); +3 if you use severe threats; +6 if you use torture*. Increase these last two bonuses by +1 if you have the Callous disadvantage (p. 125)! * “Torture” does not necessarily mean thumbscrews and the rack. Exposing a prisoner to the object of his phobia (see Phobias, p. 148) is an effective torture, as is a believable threat against a loved one. Note that torturing a prisoner is usually considered vile behavior, likely bringing retribution.

Intimidation Will/Average Defaults: Will-5 or Acting-3. This is the skill of hostile persuasion. The essence of Intimidation is to


convince the subject that you are able and willing, perhaps even eager, to do something awful to him. You can substitute an Intimidation attempt for any reaction roll; see Influence Rolls (p. 359). Exception: You cannot intimidate someone who has the Unfazeable advantage! The results of a successful Intimidation attempt depend on the target. An honest citizen probably cooperates, sullenly or with false cheer. A low-life might lick your boots (even becoming genuinely loyal). A really tough sort might react well without being frightened: “You’re my kind of scum!” The GM decides, and roleplays it. If you rolled a critical success – or if the subject critically failed his Will roll – your victim must make a Fright Check in addition to the other results of the Influence roll! Group Intimidation: You may attempt to intimidate up to 25 people at once, at -1 to skill per five people (or fraction thereof) in the group. Multiple intimidators can attempt to intimidate proportionally larger groups; for instance, three thugs could try to intimidate up to 75 people! Base the skill penalty on the size of the target group divided by the number of intimidators (round up). Resolve the outcome with a single Quick Contest: the highest effective Intimidation skill from among the intimidators vs. the highest modified Will in the target group. Specious Intimidation: You can attempt a Quick Contest of Fast-Talk vs. the subject’s IQ before your Intimidation attempt in order to appear to be intimidating when you can’t back it up. If you win, you are at +3 on the subsequent Intimidation attempt, which can go a long way toward offsetting the high Will and Fearlessness of martial arts masters, world leaders, etc. If you tie or lose, however, your Intimidation attempt fails automatically, and you suffer a “Very Bad” reaction instead of just a “Bad” one! Modifiers: +1 to +4 for displays of strength, bloodthirstiness, or supernatural powers (GM’s judgment); increase this bonus by +1 if you are Callous (p. 125). Appearance (p. 21) matters: +2 if you are Hideous, +3 if Monstrous, or +4 if Horrific. Size also matters: add


your Size Modifier and subtract the subject’s. Appropriate Reputation modifiers (positive or negative) certainly count! You get -1 for Oblivious (p. 146) and -1 to -4 for Shyness (p. 154). Subtract the subject’s Fearlessness (p. 55) from your roll. The GM may assign a +1 or -1 for especially appropriate or clumsy dialog. Requests for aid are always at -3 or worse.

Invisibility Art IQ/Very Hard Defaults: None. Prerequisites: Trained By A Master, and both Hypnotism and Stealth at 14+. This is the fabled skill, often attributed to ninja and other martial-arts masters, of being able to stand in plain sight without being noticed. It requires one second of concentration to activate. After that time, roll a Quick Contest once per second: your Invisibility Art vs. the Vision roll of each person who can see you. Viewers must apply the current darkness penalty to their Vision roll. A viewer who is concentrating on something else or otherwise distracted is at -3; one who is specifically looking for intruders gets +3. If someone sees you and raises the alarm, by pointing and crying out, those who believe the warning get +3 on their next roll. If you win, that person is unable to see you for one second. Otherwise, he can see you normally. Once someone notices you, he is unaffected by this skill until you can get out of sight somehow (which might be as easy as stepping into a shadow), whereupon you may try again. Note that this skill does not work at all in combat. In particular, if you attack anyone, you will immediately become visible to everyone! Modifiers: +3 if you use a smoke bomb or flash grenade before you attempt your roll (you appear to vanish in a cloud of smoke). Your movement modifies your skill roll rather than viewers’ Vision rolls: no modifier if you stand still (Move 0), -1 if you move at a slow walk (Move 1), -2 at a fast walk (Move 2), or -5 at a run (Move 3+). If you stand perfectly still (requires a successful Breath Control or Meditation roll), you get +1.

Jeweler/TL IQ/Hard Defaults: IQ-6, Smith (Copper)-4, or Smith (Lead and Tin)-4. This is the ability to work with precious metals, make jewelry, decorate weapons, etc. A successful skill roll allows you to identify a precious metal or gem, or determine the value of a precious bauble.

Jitte/Sai see Melee Weapon, p. 208

weapon or drop a shield. If you grapple a foe using Judo, and he fails to break free, you may make a Judo attack to throw him on your next turn, exactly as if you had parried his attack. To use Judo, any hand with which you wish to parry or grapple must be empty. Because Judo relies heavily on footwork, all Judo rolls and Judo parries take a penalty equal to your encumbrance level. For instance, Heavy encumbrance would give you -3 to hit or to parry an enemy attack.

Jumping DX/Easy

Judo DX/Hard Defaults: None. This skill represents any advanced training at unarmed throws and grapples – not just the eponymous Japanese martial art. Judo allows you to parry two different attacks per turn, one with each hand. Your Parry score is (skill/2) + 3, rounded down. This parry is not at the usual -3 for parrying a weapon barehanded, greatly reducing the likelihood of injury when you defend against an armed foe. In addition, Judo gives an improved retreating bonus when you parry; see Retreat (p. 377). For complete rules for parrying barehanded, see Parrying Unarmed (p. 376). On the turn immediately after a successful Judo parry, you may attempt to throw your attacker if he is within one yard. This counts as an attack; roll vs. Judo skill to hit. (Note that in an All-Out Attack, you cannot attempt two throws, but you can make one attempt at +4.) Your foe may use any active defense – he can parry your hand with a weapon! If his defense fails, you throw him. When you throw a foe, he falls where you please. On a battle map, he lands in any two hexes near you. One of these hexes must be his starting hex, your hex, or any hex adjacent to one of those hexes. Your victim must roll against HT; a failed roll means he is stunned! If you throw him into someone else, that person must roll against the higher of ST+3 or DX+3 to avoid being knocked down. Finally, you may use your Judo skill instead of your DX for any DX roll made in close combat except to draw a

Defaults: None. This skill represents trained jumping ability. When you attempt a difficult jump, roll against the higher of Jumping or DX. In addition, you may use half your Jumping skill (round down) instead of Basic Move when calculating jumping distance. For instance, Jumping-14 would let you jump if you had Basic Move 7. See Jumping (p. 352).

Karate DX/Hard Defaults: None. This skill represents any advanced training at unarmed striking, not just the Okinawan martial art of karate. Roll against Karate to hit with a punch (at no -4 for the “off” hand), or Karate-2 to hit with a kick. You cannot use Karate to attack with claws, teeth, etc., or with a blackjack – use Brawling (p. 182) for that. Karate skill does let you make several special attacks, however; see Special Unarmed Combat Techniques (p. 403). Karate improves damage: if you know Karate at DX level, add +1 per die to basic thrust damage when you calculate damage with Karate attacks: punches, kicks, elbow strikes, etc. Add +2 per die if you know Karate at DX+1 or better! Work out damage ahead of time and record it on your character sheet. Karate allows you to parry two different attacks per turn, one with each hand. Your Parry score is (skill/2) + 3, rounded down. This parry is not at the usual -3 for parrying a weapon barehanded, greatly reducing the likelihood of injury when you defend


against an armed foe. In addition, Karate gives an improved retreating bonus when you parry; see Retreat (p. 377). For more on parrying barehanded, see Parrying Unarmed (p. 376). To use Karate, any hand with which you wish to strike or parry must be empty (but you are free to wear heavy gauntlets, brass knuckles, etc. to increase damage). Because Karate relies heavily on footwork, all Karate attacks and parries take a penalty equal to your encumbrance level. For instance, Heavy encumbrance would give you -3 to hit or to parry an enemy attack.

Kiai HT/Hard Defaults: None. Prerequisites: Trained By A Master or Weapon Master. You can channel your chi outward in a mighty shout (kiai) that freezes lesser foes. This counts as an attack, and costs 1 FP per attempt, successful or not. Roll a Quick Contest: your Kiai skill vs. your target’s Will. You are at -1 for every full two yards of distance. Your victim resists at +1 if he is Hard of Hearing, at +2 if Deaf! If you win, your target is mentally stunned (see Effects of Stun, p. 420). This skill only works against a single victim; everyone can hear the shout, but your chi is focused on that one foe. However, a successful Kiai roll gives you +2 to Intimidation rolls vs. everyone within earshot.

Knife see Melee Weapon, p. 208

Knot-Tying DX/Easy Defaults: DX-4, Climbing-4, or Seamanship-4. This is the ability to tie a wide variety of knots quickly and efficiently. A successful skill roll lets you make a noose, tie someone up, etc. If you bind someone using this skill, he must win a Quick Contest of Escape vs. your Knot-Tying skill to free himself. Modifiers: +1 per level of High Manual Dexterity (p. 59), or -3 per level of Ham-Fisted (p. 138).


Law (British Police), or field, such as Law (British Criminal) and Law (French Criminal), default to one another at -4. If both region and field differ, the default is -6 or worse. In some times and places, a Quick Contest of Law (Criminal) between the defense and prosecution will determine the outcome of a trial. In others, Law functions as an Influence skill (see Influence Rolls, p. 359) used to sway the rulings of the judge. Law enforcers nearly always have a point or two in Law (Police) for their region. This represents knowledge of “proper procedure” when it comes to arrests, evidence handling, interrogation, etc.

Leadership IQ/Average Default: IQ-5.



see Melee Weapon, p. 208

IQ/Hard Default: IQ-6.

Lance DX/Average Defaults: DX-5 or Spear-3. Prerequisite: Riding. The ability to use the lance: a long, spear-like weapon wielded from horseback. This is not a Melee Weapon skill (see p. 208). You may not use a lance to parry – you must block or dodge enemy attacks.

Lasso DX/Average Defaults: None. This is the skill of throwing the lariat: a long rope or thong with a sliding noose at one end. Its intended purpose is to snare animals, but it can also entangle opponents in combat – see Special Ranged Weapons (p. 410).

This skill represents knowledge of law codes and jurisprudence. A successful roll lets you remember, deduce, or figure out the answer to a question about the law. Few legal questions have clear-cut answers, however – even an expert will hedge his advice! You must specialize. There are two general classes of specialty: • The laws of a particular political region (e.g., Canada or France) within a specific field (constitutional, contract, criminal, police, etc.). Examples: Law (British Criminal), Law (Canadian Constitutional), and Law (U.S. Contract). • A specialized body of law not associated with a political region. Examples: Law (Catholic Canon), Law (International), and Law (Space). Specialties within the same region, such as Law (British Criminal) and



This is the ability to coordinate a group. Make a Leadership roll to lead NPCs into a dangerous or stressful situation. (PCs can decide for themselves if they want to follow you!) You may attempt a Leadership roll in combat if you spend your turn doing nothing but giving orders and encouragement. On a success, everyone on your side who can hear you (including PCs) has +1 on all combatrelated Fright Checks and morale checks, and on self-control rolls for disadvantages that would reduce combat efficiency (such as Berserk and Cowardice – or Bloodlust, if you wish to take prisoners). A critical success gives +2. The bonus lasts until your next turn, at which time you may roll again. A group can have only one leader, however! If multiple people attempt Leadership rolls, no one gets a bonus. Note that a minimum level of Leadership is often a prerequisite for high Rank (p. 29). Modifiers: Any bonus for Charisma (p. 41); -3 for Low Empathy (p. 142); -1 to -4 for Shyness (p. 154). -5 if the NPCs have never been in action with you; -5 if you are sending them into danger but not going yourself; +5 if their loyalty to you is “Good”; +10 if their loyalty is “Very Good.” If their loyalty is “Excellent,” you do not have to roll!


Linguistics DX/Easy

Default: DX-4.

IQ/Hard Defaults: None.

This is the ability to work with leather to make belts, saddles, armor, etc. A successful skill roll lets you repair or create leather goods. Make an IQ-based roll to design items that are more artistic than functional. Modifiers: Equipment modifiers (p. 345); +1 per level of High Manual Dexterity (p. 59), or -3 per level of Ham-Fisted (p. 138).

This is the study of the principles upon which languages are based. A successful skill roll lets you identify a language from a snatch of speech or writing. As well, make a skill roll once per month when learning a language without a teacher. On a success, you learn at full speed rather than at 1/4 speed (see Learning Languages, p. 25).

does not include plasma weapons, which are often called “flamers”; use Beam Weapons skill for those.) Sprayer: Any weapon that emits a gas or atomized liquid (nerve gas, sleeping gas, etc.), including an ordinary spray can used as an improvised weapon. Squirt Gun: Any weapon that fires a low-pressure stream of liquid at the rate of one squirt per pull of the trigger. Water Cannon: Any weapon that fires a continuous jet of high-pressure liquid, usually but not always water, with the intent of causing knockback.

Lifting HT/Average Defaults: None. This is the trained ability to use your strength to its best advantage when you lift. Roll once per lift. On a success, increase your Basic Lift by 5% per point by which you made your roll. This has no effect on encumbrance, or on how much you can carry. See Lifting and Moving Things (p. 353).

Light Walk DX/Hard Defaults: None. Prerequisites: Trained By A Master, and both Acrobatics and Stealth at 14+. This skill allows you to exert very little pressure when you walk. On a successful Light Walk roll, you leave no visible tracks. Tracking rolls to follow you automatically fail unless they rely on something more than sight; thus, a human tracker would be baffled, but bloodhounds would suffer no penalty at all. You can also attempt to walk over fragile surfaces without falling through. Maximum Move under such circ*mstances is 1/3 normal (GM’s decision). Thin ice would require an unmodified Light Walk roll, while rice paper would require a roll at -8! Finally, a successful Light Walk roll can give a bonus to Stealth when your intention is to move quietly. This bonus equals half your margin of success, rounded down. Minimum bonus is +1.

Literature can be useful for finding clues to hidden treasure, sunken lands, Ancient Secrets, and the like. Lip Reading Per/Average Default: Perception-10. This is the ability to see what others are saying. You must be within seven yards, or have some means of bringing your point of view this close. A successful skill roll lets you make out one sentence of a discussion – assuming, of course, that you know the language. If your subjects suspect that you can read lips, they can hide their mouths or subvocalize to thwart you. A critical failure on a Lip Reading roll – if you are where your victims could see you – means that you stared so much you were noticed! Modifiers: All Vision modifiers (see Vision, p. 358).

Liquid Projector/TL† DX/Easy Default: DX-4. This is the ability to use a weapon that projects a stream of liquid or gas. Roll against Liquid Projector skill to hit your target. Make an IQ-based Liquid Projector roll to take immediate action (e.g., patch a leak), should your weapon fail. You must specialize by weapon type: Flamethrower: Any weapon that projects burning liquid or gas. (This


These specialties default to one another at -4. The weapons covered by each specialty vary by TL; e.g., Liquid Projector (Flamethrower) covers firesiphons loaded with Greek fire at TL4, while at TL6, it covers backpack tanks that project thickened fuel. Modifiers: All applicable ranged combat modifiers; -2 for heavy weapons when you are used to portable weapons (e.g., a flamethrower mounted on a tank when you are used to a backpack model), or for an unfamiliar weapon of a known type; -4 or more for a weapon in bad repair.

Literature IQ/Hard Default: IQ-6. This is the study of the great writings. A student of literature would be knowledgeable in the realms of old poetry, dusty tomes, criticism, etc. This can be useful for finding clues to hidden treasure, sunken lands, Ancient Secrets, and the like. The work in question must be available in a language you read. Modifiers: -5 if you’re illiterate (see Literacy, p. 24) and relying on oral tradition, save in pre-literate cultures, where this is the norm.


Lockpicking/TL IQ/Average Default: IQ-5.

If you make the roll and open the lock, each point by which you succeeded shaves five seconds off the required time. (Safecracking and similar

This is the ability to open locks without the key or combination. Each attempt requires one minute.

challenges can take more time, at the GM’s discretion.) Note that if the lock has a trap or alarm attached, you must make a separate Traps roll to circumvent it. Modifiers: Equipment modifiers (p. 345); -5 if working by touch (e.g., in total darkness). Inside information gives a bonus at GM’s discretion. If the GM requires a DX-based roll (for instance, to work with a particularly delicate mechanism), modifiers for High Manual Dexterity (p. 59) or Ham-Fisted (p. 138) will apply.

Machinist/TL IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5 or Mechanic (any)-5. This is the skill of making and modifying mechanical parts and tools. A successful skill roll lets you build parts from raw materials, manufacture tools for use with another skill (such as Armoury or Lockpicking), or modify any simple mechanical device not explicitly covered by another skill. The GM may require an inventor to make one or more Machinist rolls before attempting an Engineer roll to assemble a gadget. Materials and component size vary significantly with tech level. A TL5 machinist works mainly with brass and steel components that can be seen with the naked eye; a TL10 machinist might work with carbon nanotubes. Modifiers: Equipment modifiers (p. 345).

Main-Gauche see Melee Weapon, p. 208

Makeup/TL IQ/Easy Defaults: IQ-4 or Disguise-2. This is the skill of using theatrical makeup to enhance a performer’s appearance. It is not just the ability to make someone look “pretty” – you can make yourself or others look older, younger, or of a different race or nationality. At TL6+, you can use prosthetics to further enhance the effect. However, you cannot make someone look taller or shorter than he actually is.



Market Analysis IQ/Hard Defaults: IQ-6, Economics-5, or Merchant-4. This is the skill of predicting the short-term behavior of bond, stock, and currency markets – usually in order to make money! It is the main job skill of professional traders and speculators. Make a skill roll to determine current market trends. On a critical success, you also learn whether a trend will continue or reverse in the future. On a failure, you get no clear answer. On a critical failure, you guess wrong. Modifiers: The Talents (p. 89) of Business Acumen and Mathematical Ability both provide a bonus.

Masonry IQ/Easy Default: IQ-4. This is the ability to build things out of brick or stone. Modifiers: Equipment modifiers (p. 345); -3 for simple engineering (erecting scaffolding, moving large blocks of stone, etc.) rather than masonry per se.

Mathematics/TL† IQ/Hard Defaults: IQ-6 and others. This is the scientific study of quantities and magnitudes, and their relationships and attributes, through the use of numbers and symbols. You must specialize: Applied: The branch of mathematics that interacts directly with the physical sciences and engineering, dealing with mathematical models of the behavior of physical systems. Defaults: Engineer (any)-5 or Physics-5. Computer Science: The theoretical study of data structures and computation. Roll vs. skill to answer questions about what is possible with computers. This gives you no special ability to use computers! Default: Computer Programming-5. Cryptology: The mathematical study of codes and ciphers. This gives you a theoretical understanding of encryption schemes, including how they change with TL and why some schemes are more effective than

others. To create or break codes, use Cryptography skill (p. 186). Default: Cryptography-5. Pure: Generic “academic” mathematics. Make a skill roll to answer any math-related question not covered by another specialty. Pure mathematics encompasses dozens of obscure subfields that will never affect the game. If you must be an expert in something like “non-selfadjoint operator algebras,” you may further note an optional specialty (p. 169). Statistics: The science of assembling and analyzing data for the purpose of calculating probabilities, constructing models, and making forecasts. Roll vs. skill to determine the odds of a particular outcome, given sufficient data about similar situations in the past. Surveying: The science of determining the area of a portion of the Earth’s surface, the lengths and directions of the bounding lines, and the contour of the surface. Make a skill roll to determine the dimensions of any area you can see. More complex determinations require specialized equipment. Defaults: Cartography-3 or Navigation (any)-4. These specialties default to one another at -5.

Mechanic/TL† IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5, Engineer (same)-4, or Machinist-5. This is the ability to diagnose and fix ordinary mechanical problems. A successful skill roll will let you find or repair one problem. You must pick a specialty from within one of these four categories: Machine Type: Any one class of nonvehicular machine. Types include Micromachines (miniature machinery, invisible to the naked eye; TL9+), Nanomachines (molecular-scale machinery; TL10+), and Robotics (robots and automated factories; TL7+). Motive System Type: Any one type of propulsion system, regardless of vehicle type. Types include Legged, Tracked, Wheeled, Rockets, and Reactionless Thrusters. Power Plant Type: Any one type of power plant, no matter what it


powers. Types include Clockwork, Steam Engine, Gasoline Engine, Diesel Engine, Gas Turbine, Fuel Cell, Fission Reactor, Fusion Reactor, and Antimatter Reactor. Vehicle Type: The controls, hull, motive system, power plant, transmission, and even the paint job of one specific type of vehicle listed under a vehicle-operation skill such as Driving (p. 188), Piloting (p. 214), or Submarine (p. 223). Mechanic specialties default to one another at -4, although the GM may modify this for particularly close or distant specialties. The systems covered by each specialty vary by TL. For instance, Mechanic (Light Airplane) covers single-engine biplanes at early TL6, small private jets at TL7, and so forth. Familiarity is very important here. For instance, Mechanic/TL7 (Light Airplane) covers both propeller-powered seaplanes and small private jets, but going from one to the other gives you -2 for an unfamiliar item (proppowered plane to jet) and -2 for an unfamiliar implementation (seaplane to regular plane), for a net -4 to skill until you familiarize yourself with all the differences. Modifiers: -2 for an unfamiliar item within your specialty (e.g., a barge when you’re used to battleships), or for an unfamiliar implementation (e.g., a powerboat engine when you’re used to automobile engines); equipment modifiers (p. 345).

Meditation Will/Hard Defaults: Will-6 or Autohypnosis-4. This is the ability to calm the emotions, control the mind, and relax the body. To use this skill, you must concentrate for (20 - skill) seconds, minimum one second, and then roll vs. skill. On a success, you enter a trancelike state, which you can maintain for hours. A meditative trance is required for certain rituals and is a common preparation for prayer. In addition, the GM may permit you to meditate on a particular moral dilemma. On a successful Meditation roll, the GM will “enlighten” you, providing a hint as to which course of action “feels” right.


Melee Weapon DX/Varies Defaults: Special. This is not one skill, but an entire collection of skills – one per class of closely related melee weapons. Melee Weapon skills are based on DX, and default to DX-4 if Easy, DX-5 if Average, or DX-6 if Hard. See specific skill descriptions for other defaults. Make a Melee Weapon roll to hit an opponent in combat. You may also use these skills to parry. Your Parry defense is (skill/2) + 3, rounded down. Melee weapons fall into broad categories on the basis of overall balance and function. When a rule refers to one of these categories, it applies to all weapons in that category and all Melee Weapon skills used to wield them. For instance, “fencing weapons” means “all weapons used with any of Main-Gauche, Rapier, Saber, or Smallsword skill.”

Fencing Weapons Fencing weapons are light, onehanded weapons, usually hilted blades, optimized for parrying. If you have a fencing weapon, you get an improved retreating bonus when you parry – see Retreat (p. 377). Furthermore, you have half the usual penalty for parrying more than once with the same hand (see Parrying, p. 376). Note that fencing weapons are light and likely to break when used to parry a heavier weapon. They cannot parry flail weapons at all! You must be relatively mobile to capitalize on their speed and maneuverability: all attacks and parries take a penalty equal to your encumbrance level (e.g., Heavy encumbrance gives -3 to hit or to parry). The skills in this category default to one another at -3. They also default to sword skills, as noted below. Main-Gauche (DX/Average): Any weapon normally wielded with Knife or Jitte/Sai skill (see below), used in the “off” hand. With this skill, you may ignore the penalty for using the “off” hand on defense (attacks are still at -4) and the -1 for parrying with a knife. To wield a knife as a primary weapon, use Knife skill. Defaults: Jitte/Sai-4 or Knife-4.


Rapier (DX/Average): Any long (over 1 yard), light thrusting sword. Default: Broadsword-4. Saber (DX/Average): Any light cutand-thrust sword. Note that cavalry sabers are quite heavy, and use Broadsword instead. Defaults: Broadsword-4 or Shortsword-4. Smallsword (DX/Average): Any short (up to 1 yard), light thrusting sword or one-handed short staff (such as the sticks used in the martial arts arnis, escrima, and kali). Default: Shortsword-4.

Flails A flail is any flexible, unbalanced weapon with its mass concentrated in the head. Such a weapon cannot parry if you have already attacked with it on your turn. Because flails tend to wrap around the target’s shield or weapon, attempts to block them are at -2 and attempts to parry them are at -4. Fencing weapons and knives cannot parry them at all! An unarmed fighter can parry a flail, but at -4 in addition to any penalty for parrying unarmed. The skills in this category default to one another at -3. Flail (DX/Hard): Any one-handed flail, such as a morningstar or nunchaku. Default: Axe/Mace-4. Two-Handed Flail (DX/Hard): Any two-handed flail. Defaults: Kusari-4 or Two-Handed Axe/Mace-4.

Impact Weapons An impact weapon is any rigid, unbalanced weapon with most of its mass concentrated in the head. Such a weapon cannot parry if you have already attacked with it on your turn. The skills in this category default to one another at -3. Axe/Mace (DX/Average): Any shortor medium-length, one-handed impact weapon, such as an axe, hatchet, knobbed club, or pick. Default: Flail-4. Two-Handed Axe/Mace (DX/Average): Any long, two-handed impact weapon, such as a baseball bat, battleaxe, maul, or warhammer. Defaults: Polearm-4 or Two-Handed Flail-4.

Pole Weapons Pole weapons are long (usually wooden) shafts, often adorned with striking heads. All require two hands.


Polearm (DX/Average): Any very long (at least 2 yards), unbalanced pole weapon with a heavy striking head, including the glaive, halberd, poleaxe, and countless others. Polearms become unready after an attack, but not after a parry. Defaults: Spear-4, Staff-4, or TwoHanded Axe/Mace-4. Spear (DX/Average): Any long, balanced pole weapon with a thrusting point, including spears, javelins, tridents, and fixed bayonets. Defaults: Polearm-4 or Staff-2. Staff (DX/Average): Any long, balanced pole without a striking head. This skill makes good use of the staff’s extensive parrying surface when defending, giving +2 to your Parry score. Defaults: Polearm-4 or Spear-2.

Swords A sword is a rigid, hilted blade with a thrusting point, cutting edge, or both. All swords are balanced, and can attack and parry without becoming unready. Broadsword (DX/Average): Any balanced, 2- to 4-foot blade wielded in one hand – broadsword, cavalry saber, scimitar, etc. This skill also covers any stick or club of similar size and balance to these blades, as well as bastard swords, katanas, and longswords used one-handed. Defaults: Force Sword-4, Rapier-4, Saber-4, Shortsword-2, or Two-Handed Sword-4. Force Sword (DX/Average): Any sword with a “blade” made of energy instead of matter. This generally refers to an ultra-tech weapon that projects energy from a powered hilt, but extends to similar effects produced using magic or psionics. Default: any sword skill at -3. Jitte/Sai (DX/Average): Any tined, one-handed sword designed to catch rigid weapons. Jitte/Sai weapons are built for disarming, and give +2 in the Quick Contest to disarm an opponent (see Knocking a Weapon Away, p. 401). Furthermore, if you attempt to disarm on the turn immediately after you parry your opponent’s weapon, you need not roll to hit his weapon first. Just state that you are attempting to disarm and move directly to the Quick Contest! This still counts as an attack. Defaults: Force Sword-4, MainGauche-4, or Shortsword-3. Knife (DX/Easy): Any rigid, hilted blade less than one foot long, from a pocketknife to a bowie knife. A knife

has a very small parrying surface, which gives you -1 to your Parry score. Defaults: Force Sword-3, MainGauche-3, or Shortsword-3. Shortsword (DX/Average): Any balanced, one-handed weapon 1-2 feet in length – including the shortsword and any club of comparable size and balance (e.g., a police baton). Defaults: Broadsword-2, Force Sword-4, Jitte/Sai-3, Knife-4, Saber-4, Smallsword-4, or Tonfa-3. Two-Handed Sword (DX/Average): Any balanced, two-handed blade over 4 feet in length: greatswords, zweihanders, etc. This skill also covers quarterstaffs wielded like swords, as well as bastard swords, katanas, and longswords used two-handed. Defaults: Broadsword-4 or Force Sword-4.

Whips A whip is a flexible weapon made from a length of chain, leather, wire, etc. A whip can be up to seven yards long – but note that a whip two yards or more in length cannot strike at one yard or closer, and is slow to ready after an attack. A whip tends to wind around its target, making it an excellent disarming and entangling weapon. However, a whip’s lack of rigidity makes it a poor parrying weapon. For details, see Special Melee Weapon Rules (p. 404). The skills in this category default to one another at -3.

hold it against the forearm in close combat. This grip lets you jab for thrust+1 crushing damage and parry close-combat attacks at (skill/2) + 3, rounded down. Roll vs. skill to change grips. On a success, the grip change is a free action. On a failure, you must spend the entire turn changing grips. A critical failure means you throw your weapon away! Default: Shortsword-3.

Mental Strength Will/Easy Defaults: None. Prerequisites: Trained By A Master or Weapon Master*. * At the GM’s option, a mage or psi may also learn this skill. You can actively focus your mind to resist mental attacks. This skill replaces Will when you resist magic spells, psi powers, Hypnotism, Invisibility Art, Kiai, and similar abilities. Mental Strength does not replace most normal Will rolls. Furthermore, it does not work if you are stunned, asleep, or unconscious – for that, buy the Mind Shield advantage (p. 70).

Merchant IQ/Average Defaults: IQ-5, Market Analysis-4.



Some hand weapons defy easy classification. For instance:

This is the skill of buying, selling, and trading retail and wholesale goods. It involves bargaining, salesmanship, and an understanding of trade practices. It covers all types of merchandise, but many merchants have an optional specialty (p. 169) in a single class of goods. Make a skill roll to judge the value of any piece of common goods, find out where any commodity is bought and sold, find the local fair market value of any commodity, etc. When two merchants haggle, the GM may settle it with a Quick Contest. The winner adds or subtracts 10% of fair value, depending on whether he was trying to sell or buy. If you have this skill at any level, you get +1 on reaction rolls when buying or selling. If you have this skill at level 20 or better, you get +2.

Tonfa (DX/Average): A tonfa is a baton with a protruding handle on one side. It can function as a baton, but you can also grasp it by the handle and

Modifiers: -3 for Gullibility (p. 137); -3 for Low Empathy (p. 142); -1 to -4 for Shyness (p. 154). -3 for illegal goods, unless you have Streetwise at 12+ or

Force Whip (DX/Average): Any whip made of pure energy instead of matter. These are usually ultra-tech devices that project energy from a powered hilt, but magical or psi-tech versions are possible. Most force whips can lash the target but not ensnare him. Kusari (DX/Hard): A weighted chain wielded in two hands. Default: Two-Handed Flail-4. Monowire Whip (DX/Hard): A whip made of a weighted length of monomolecular wire attached to a handle. Whip (DX/Average): Any ordinary whip.

Other Weapons


specialize in such goods; -2 in an unfamiliar area, until you have had time to familiarize yourself with local market conditions; Cultural Familiarity modifiers (p. 23). These last two modifiers “stack,” and frequently occur together.

Metallurgy/TL IQ/Hard Defaults: Chemistry-5, Jeweler-8, or Smith (any)-8. This is the study of metals and their properties. A successful roll lets you identify metals or alloys, or solve a problem concerning metals, their use, mining, or refining.

Meteorology/TL† IQ/Average Default: IQ-5. This is the study of the weather, and the ability to predict it. It includes familiarity with technological aids such as barometers and satellite maps, but you can still function without your instruments. (If you can’t, you’re a meter-reader, not a meteorologist!) When you wish to predict the weather, the GM rolls against your skill in secr