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MyGURPS - Super-Effort For Striking ST

Super-Effort For Striking ST

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Supers is one of the more difficult genres for a universal game to handle. GURPS could handle the more realistic "modern" comics right out of the gate; it's trivial to build a hero who can bounce bullets and easily subdue the bad guys. But the classic four-color supers genre would have to wait for Powers. Not only were a few needed abilities added, but the new Super-Effort enhancement for Lifting ST and Telekinesis allowed superheroes to make those massive, ridiculous lifts that you always see in the comics.

The bricks also got a break with the new rules for strength-based, melee Innate Attacks. Instead of buying Striking ST +10 [50] to get an extra 1d of damage, Powers allows them to buy Crushing Attack 1d (Melee, C, -30%; ST-Based, +100%) [9] for their mega-punches. Of course, not every brick concept revolves around just punching things. The Innate Attack method doesn't cover strong supers who like to use weapons and throw things at great range, which is what Striking ST was invented for in the first place. In the end, it seemed to me that it would just be simpler to find a way to make Striking ST more useful, instead of working around it.

After a lot of discussion on the forums and a lot of playing with the numbers, I came up with the following enhancement to bring Striking ST into the same playing field as both Lifting ST and Innate Attack:

Special Enhancement for Striking ST:

The following enhancement is only appropriate in a game that allows the Super-Effort enhancement on Lifting ST and the ST-Based enhancement on Innate Attacks.

Supercharged: You can use your strength to tremendous effect! Each level of Striking ST adds +5 to your ST for the purpose of calculating thrust/swing damage and throwing distance. Other uses, such as Neck Snap and meeting Min ST requirements, use your normal Striking ST level. +100%

A successful use of the Power Blow skill does not double this to +10 per level. Only the basic Striking ST is doubled, for an end result of +6 to ST per level for damage and throwing distance calculations.

If you have Lifting ST with Super-Effort as well, the GM may allow you to use the Lifting ST rules for this enhancement to calculate your throwing distance only (i.e., look up your level of Striking ST in the Range column of the Size and Speed/Range Table, read over to the Linear Measurement column, and use that number as your ST bonus for the throw). This costs 1 FP per throw (cumulative with the FP cost for Lifting ST), which cannot be eliminated with Reduced Fatigue Cost.

Note that this does not increase the speed at which the object travels; the distance you can throw an object in one second is still based on (ST + (Striking ST x 5)), as above. It is quite possible for a thrown object to take several minutes to land, using these rules.

This modifier may also be taken on levels of ST itself, as a +50% enhancement. It has no effect on lifting ability or hit points.

How Did You Get Those Numbers?

First, set some premises. According to the chart on p. B16, it takes approximately 10 levels of Striking ST to add +1d damage. However, with Brawling, Claws, Weapon Master, etc., it's actually easy to get a +2 per-die bonus. So it's reasonable to expect that, in a campaign which allows PCs to freely buy Innate Attacks, Striking ST +10 should be comparable in cost to a set of 1d+2 attacks. Power Blow makes this more complicated, but that's easily resolved by removing it from the equation (see box above). There's no need to include the ST-Based enhancement here; we're trying to find a decent per-level cost for the hand-to-hand damage itself, not trying to add an attack on to it.

Striking ST also includes throwing distance, however. Unfortunately, no other advantage in GURPS does so, so there's no "independent" way to price it, and including it in the calculations below would (by definition) throw off the attempt to reprice it. In the end, I copped out, and decided that "Improves Throwing Distance" is about as valuable as "Adds to ST-Based Damage", and priced a new pseudo-enhancement for Crushing Attack at +100%. It's crufty, but it works.


Crushing Attack 1d+2 (Alternative Attack, x1; Either Melee, C, 1 or Requires Throwable Object or Weapon, -5%; Improves Throwing Distance, +100%) [16]

Cutting Attack 1d+2 (Alternative Attack, x1/5; Requires Cutting Weapon, -10%; Limited to Reach, Range, and Skill of that Weapon, -5%) [10/5=2]

Impaling Attack 1d+2 (Alternative Attack, x1/5; Requires Impaling Weapon, -10%; Limited to Reach, Range, and Skill of that Weapon, -5%) [11/5=2.2]

TOTAL: 20.2 points

This suggest that, in a campaign which allows PCs to freely buy Innate Attacks, Striking ST could stand to be about 2.5 times as effective as it currently is.

There are a few ways this could be done. The price could be arbitrarily reduced to 2 points per level, but that is an invitation for trouble. Players who find creative limitations will be able to buy it for as little as 0.4 points per level, and those who put enhancements on it (such as Affects Others) will be able to do so dirt-cheap. Also, it raises the question of normal ST -- do you adjust the price to 7 points per level? For lowered ST as well or just for increased ST? The complications are... well, complicated.

It could also be accomplished with a -60% limitation, but I recommend against that approach. For one thing, doing so would make players in a non-supers game grumble about having to pay full price for it -- even though in a normal game, Striking ST really is a fair value. It would also unbalance the Size limitation, giving you a great bonus for SM +1 or +2, but then nothing afterwards. Plus -- and this is subjective, but no less important -- it doesn't feel right to improve an advantage by slapping a limitation on it.

Yes, this works best as an enhancement. Charging twice as much for five times the effect is mathematically identical to charging 40% as much for the same effect, but it avoids all of the issues raised above. The Size limitation is still valid, for an even greater potential range than before, and no adjustments have to be made to normal ST. It also makes this more of a "super power", which helps to differentiate it from unmodified Striking ST. Characters don't take this trait for a modest boost -- they take it when they want to add extra dice of damage to their strength-based attacks.

As far as the second paragraph and its ridiculous throwing range... well, it's really not much more than a special effect. The difference between, "I can throw this mailbox half a mile," and, "I can throw this mailbox 1,000 miles," is really just the coolness factor. Because the speed of the object does matter greatly for collision rules, I limited the speed to no faster than the character could throw it anyways. Consider the super-throwing a tradeoff for the fact that it costs 1 FP to use, which the player can't buy off with Reduced Fatigue Cost.

Really Random Tangent: Did you know that in GURPS Fourth Edition, a suitcase (one kiloton) nuke does about 6d x 2,900 damage, and a real (one megaton) nuke does about 6d x 90,000 damage? That would take a lot of Striking ST to match, it would.

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