GURPS Attribute Redesign

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This is "radical theory", completely untested, and should be treated as a gedankenexperiment rather than rules.


GURPS is married to its core attribute structure for historical and corporate reasons, but some weird results have come out of the attempt to pin the attributes down while the rest of the system evolves. This is a proposal for adjusting the attribute structure and pricing to better suit the rest of the current (4e) skill and combat system; other proposals revise the current skill system instead.


Note that this proposal (overall) increases the cost of Attributes.


  • ST now costs 7 points/level, and is composed of +1 Striking ST, +1 Lifting ST, and 1 HP.
  • Striking ST now costs 2 points/level.
  • Lifting ST remains 3 points/level.
  • HP remain 2 points/level. Knockback resistance is based on HP, not "ST", as is collision/falling damage and slam damage. Some HP can be designated as "Massless", which means you don't count it for knockback, collision, falling, and slam damage. +0% exotic feature, for racial templates, supers, and chi powers.
  • Radical Option: ST gives 2 HP, not 1. HP cost 1 pt/level. ST 10 gives 20 HP. Ballistic weapon damage is doubled or gains a (2) armor divisor. No other part of the game system changes. This is a gamist adjustment to bring ballistic weapons in line with muscle-powered damage while letting players retain a fun "bump" in melee combat ability every ST level or so. It also serves the gamist purpose of extending combat somewhat - if using this, make sure "sane" NPCs are generally likely to flee or surrender before reaching 0 HP. This will make crazy fanatical zombie axe-murderers that fight until death-checks stick out more, and prevent fights from dragging along too much.

Optional Replacement ST Based Damage Table

ST sw thr            ST sw thr
1 1 1 26 2d+1 4d+3
2 1 1d-4 27 2d+2 5d+0
3 1 1d-3 28 2d+2 5d+1
4 1d-4 1d-2 29 2d+2 5d+1
5 1d-4 1d-2 30 2d+3 5d+2
6 1d-3 1d-1 31 2d+3 5d+3
7 1d-2 1d+0 32 3d+0 6d+0
8 1d-2 1d+1 33 3d+0 6d+1
9 1d-2 1d+1 34 3d+1 6d+1
10 1d-1 1d+2 35 3d+1 6d+2
11 1d-1 1d+3 36 3d+1 6d+3
12 1d+0 2d+0 37 3d+2 7d+0
13 1d+0 2d+1 38 3d+2 7d+1
14 1d+1 2d+1 39 3d+2 7d+1
15 1d+1 2d+2 40 3d+3 7d+2
16 1d+1 2d+3 41 3d+3 7d+3
17 1d+2 3d+0 42 4d+0 8d+0
18 1d+2 3d+1 43 4d+0 8d+1
19 1d+2 3d+1 44 4d+1 8d+1
20 1d+3 3d+2 45 4d+1 8d+2
21 1d+3 3d+3 46 4d+1 8d+3
22 2d+0 4d+0 47 4d+2 9d+0
23 2d+0 4d+1 48 4d+2 9d+1
24 2d+1 4d+1 49 4d+2 9d+1
25 2d+1 4d+2 50 4d+3 9d+2

Damage may be extended or interpolated by adding 1d to the thrust damage 10 levels below, and 2d to the swing damage 10 levels below.

Optional Replacement ST table for low ST values

For games with lots of small characters, this table uses "decimal damage" and "decimal Hit Points". In games where this is particularly important, you may want to keep one decimal place on point costs of all traits when rounding as well.

Decimal ST and HP: 0.8 CP buys 0.1 ST and HP. Calculate BL as normal from the ST score, rounding at the end of calculations. Treat all creatures with HP 5 or less as using decimal HP, even if their HP are a whole number. 1 CP buys 0.5 HP, 0.2 CP buys 0.1 HP.

Decimal Damage: Retain "tenths" on Damage and DR and at all points during the damage calculations, including when dividing or multiplying DR; once you reach the final Injury value, round down before subtracting the Injury from Hit Points unless the subject has fractional hit points.

Fractional damage and hit points only come in multiples of 1/10th for the sake of sanity.

When using a weapon, damage modifier is applied after the roll and division.

Fast play rule: ignore fractions on DR and injury unless specifically dealing with creatures with fractional hit points or low damage/poor penetration attacks with interesting Follow-Ups, like poisoned darts.

ST sw thr
1 1d/10 (1d+2)/10
2 (1d+1)/10 2d/10
3 (1d+2)/10 (2d+1)/10
4 2d/10 2d/5
5 (2d+2)/10 1d/2
6 (2d/5) 1d-1
7 (2d+2)/5 1d+0
8 (2d+3)/5 (2d+1)/2
9 (1d+1)/2 1d+1
10 1d-1 1d+2


  • DX now costs 25 points/level.
  • Basic Speed has changed. See it and the new sub-attribute Reflexes, below.


  • IQ remains 20 points/level.
  • Perception and Will are no longer based on IQ, but become their own attributes. They start at 10, and can be raised or lowered for 5 points/level.
  • Possible alternate: create a fifth attribute and use that as the base for Per and Will (the "Wisdom model"). Further possible: also using this as the base for social skills, which are or can be described as a combination of observation and force of personality. Except Diplomacy, which could stay as IQ. 5th attribute then would be 20 points each?
  • Affliction (Attribute Penalty, IQ) no longer reduces Per and Will. Price does not change.
  • The Attribute Penalty enhancement may be bought for Per and Will at +5% per level each.
  • Steal Will and Steal Per are +100% enhancements for Leech.
  • IQ penalties from other sources will need to be evaluated by the GM as to whether they apply to Per and Will as well as IQ, or perhaps to Per/Will and not IQ at all.
  • IQ is now the base for the new Reflexes sub-attribute. See new sub-attribute Reflexes, below.


  • Still costs 10 points/level.
  • Basic Speed has changed, and is no longer the base for Dodge. See Basic Speed and the new sub-attribute Reflexes, below.


Reflexes is a new sub-attribute, representing the characters reaction time. The abbreviation is Ref. Calculate Reflexes by adding DX to IQ and dividing the result by 2. Keep fractions. Reflexes costs 10 points for 0.5 levels (or 20 points/level), and in most games may be adjusted ±20%.
Dodge is now based on Reflexes/2+3, and Parry and Block are based on (weapon skill floated to Reflexes)/2+3. Reflexes is now used to determine turn order - highest Reflexes go first, . Skills should also be floated to Reflexes when sheer reaction-time is a factor. The roll to Quick Ready a bow is an example of when Bow should be floated to Ref instead of DX.

  • Dodge, Parry, and block retain the usual +3.
  • Remove the Fast Draw skill. Fast Draw is now a technique defaulting to (appropriate DX-Based Skill)-2, and is always floated to Reflexes. Fast Draw (Ammo for weapon) is a separate technique from Fast Draw (Weapon). Specialties with no obvious appropriate skill associated with them are based on Ref-2 instead. Combat skills are always considered appropriate skills for Fast Drawing a weapon normally used with that skill. Combat Art and Sport skills are also appropriate, but may carry a -2 Familiarity penalty if the characters particular Art or Sport does not pay attention to fast draws.

"Active Defences Only" is a -20% limitation on the purchase price of Reflexes (making +1 to all defences = Extra Ref +2 (Active Defences Only, -20%) [32]. "Not for Active Defences" is a -60% limitation on Reflexes. This is deliberately asymmetrical.

Under consideration: base recovery from Mental Stun on Reflexes, not IQ, at least in situations of surprise or confusion.

Basic Speed

Basic Speed now relates solely to movement. It retains the same base calculation. It now costs 2 points/0.25 levels (or 10 points per level).
Optional: Basic Speed could be based on (ST+DX)/4 instead of (DX+HT)/4. If so, increase the value of ST back to 10/level.

  • Ground Move is still equal to Basic Speed, Water Move is equal to Basic Speed/5. Characters with Flight gain an Air Move equal to twice Basic Speed (including fractions).
Ground Move costs [5]/level, Water and Air Move cost [2]/level. Air Move cannot be bought below 2×Basic Speed - instead use the Slow limitation on Flight.
Do not truncate fractions, but characters never move fractional hexes on grid based combat. Use the full Move (including fractions) when calculating encumbered move, Sprinting speed, Step, Jumping distance, paced running/flying/swimming, and so forth. Drop fractions at the end of calculations, not the beginning.

Example: Edgar Example has a Basic Speed of 6.75 and Flight. In tactical combat while on the ground, Edgar has a Step of 1, and 6 movement points. When Edgar sprints after running in a straight line for one turn, on the second turn he moves 8 hexes (and for a gridless race, Edgar is moving at 8.1 yards per second). In the air, Edgar has a Flight Move of 13.5, a Step of 2 and 13 movement points. He can sprint in the air 16 hexes (moving 16.2 yards per second gridless).

Size Modifier

Characters come with "free" DR equal to one third the Linear Measurement (in yards) on the Speed/Range Table. For games not using fractional damage and DR, drop all fractions. For games using fractional damage and DR, round all fractions down to the nearest 10th.

A brief example:

0 0.6
1 1.0
2 1.6
3 2.3
4 3.3
5 5.0
  • For characters without Injury Tolerance (Unliving), (Homogenous), or (Diffuse), this is Tough Skin DR.
  • For characters with IT (Unliving) this is Touch Transmissive DR.
  • For characters with IT (Homogenous) or (Diffuse), this is unlimited DR.



Talent pricing needs to be re-examined, but the primary consideration is that talents should (as a rule) cover a group of skills based on more than one attribute. This is especially true for larger skill-group talents.
With the new higher price for DX and splitting Per and Will off IQ, a 15 point talent full of DX only or IQ only skills isn't as undesirable as it used to be; the problem becomes that these are simple enough to number-crunch and determine if they are numerically superior to a plain attribute or not. Mixed-attribute talents make the situation more nuanced, which is desirable.
The goal of Talent remains to carve out a niche, role, or archetype of competence without requiring the character to become a polymath by boosting attributes into the stratosphere. Therefore, Talent should remain a "better deal" than increasing the individual skills, and remain a viable (and in some cases much better) alternative to raising the related attribute(s). A character that only wants a small number of skills should raise the skills. A character that wants many many skills should raise DX and IQ (and Will and Per). A character with intermediate interests may raise only one or two of those attributes, or may buy a talent, or some mix of both.