High-Point Characters
June 8, 2017 GMing

Happy GURPSDay, GURPS aficionados far and wide. Time for the weekly infusion of glorious gaming goodness!

There’s been a lot of discussion over the past few days about GMing and creating GURPS PCs with very high point totals, sparked by this G+ post, so I thought I would throw in my two cents.

It’s actually been quite a few years since I ran a game with PCs over, say, 300-400 points, but I don’t recall ever having any of the problems usually attributed to high-point campaigns. Naturally, though, these are my personal guidelines, who knows what will work for you and your group?

500 points, 1,000 points, even more, these are the things I personally keep in mind:

  • Limits. The very first thing, likely the most important, is that the campaign still needs limits and structure. Those limits may be insanely high (“No ST over 50”), but they should still exist (“I took ST 51!”)
  • Attributes. The limits will vary here, since not all attributes are of equal utility. ST usually has the highest, because fiction is filled with fantastically strong heroes getting into earth-shattering fistfights with equally strong villains. IQ and DX have the greatest impact, since all skills are based off of them, so I try to keep those fairly low, maybe 20-25. It’s hard for me to imagine a character with an IQ or DX higher than that anyway. HT, unless the character is specifically meant to be nigh-invulnerable etc. I try to keep to 14, maybe 15. Anything higher and combats can just drag on foreeeever.
  • Skills. The thing about GURPS is, there can be, if you want the options, modifiers for everything. A medieval combat archer, renowned through the kingdom, might have a skill of 18-20, allowing him to remain accurate at extremely long ranges, or make precise called shots to extremely tiny targets. Hawkeye, the Marvel character, I might go as high as Bow-30, allowing him to make extremely long shots and still make precise called shots. Point being, the higher the skill, the more modifiers a character can simultaneously compensate for. The Demigod of Bows might have a skill of 45+, and have a decent chance of hitting a hare, in the eye, from 200 yards away, in a snowstorm, while balancing on one foot.
  • Defenses. Regarding Active Defenses, it depends in my mind on whether these super powerful PCs are expected to be vulnerable to ‘mundane’ combatants, even a little bit. If so, any defense over 16 or so will make it nearly impossible. On the other hand, if the campaign is solely supers against other supers, you can go nuts because other characters can have skills high enough to make Deceptive Attacks and bring them down to more manageable levels.
  • Challenges. Apart from the PCs themselves, the GM of a high-point campaign should remember that, regardless of how powerful the characters are, the challenges they face need to be appropriate. There’s a reason you don’t often see Superman fighting pickpockets, or the Punisher fighting Galactus — they’re boring, because there’s no real challenge. If you’re GMing a campaign where the PCs are like gods and the world trembles beneath their feet, then the villains and challenges they face should be equally powerful.

High-point campaigns can be a ton of fun, and in my opinion GURPS scales up from ‘street-level’ heroes to demigods and gods quite nicely. Having access to hundreds and hundreds of Character Points, possibly even thousands, gives you the chance to create characters with truly amazing, cosmically powerful abilities, and the underlying mechanics continue to hum along as usual.

If you’ve run your own high-point campaigns I’d love to hear about it, whether it was a smashing success or a total nightmare!


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