GURPS Random Attributes

In my ongoing project to strip down the GURPS rules, and make them as accessible as possible for my Open Table games, I have been experimenting with rolling Attributes randomly.

GURPS 1e-3e offered the simple system of rolling 3d6 for each Attribute and applying the result directly. Initially attracted to this idea, I tried it in my early Dungeons of Thaarl games but found the results too variable – too many characters with sub-8 values which, when combined with the 4e points value differences between ST/HT and DX/IQ, made for several sub-zero-point characters; one got a total of -178 Character Points.

Despite this, random rolling of Attributes and a modified version of the random Skills, Advantages, and Disadvantages would be quick and very useful at the table. It’s also a quick way in for new players who think (wrongly) that they won’t enjoy GURPS because of the maths.

I still need to update my most recent Dungeons of Thaarl post to show you the modifed Version 0.3 random tables for Skills, Advantages, and Disadvantages. Before I do that, however, I’d like to share and get feedback on my in-test approach to random Attributes.

This draws on inspiration from the AGE System and my own innovation with an alternative to rolling 3d6 in-order with Old-School Essentials. Let me know what you think.

Random Attributes

You need to generate four Attribute scores: STrength (ST), DeXterity (DX), Intelligence (IQ), and HealTh (HT).

To do this:

  • Roll 3d6 and note the total.
  • Choose one of the Attributes.
  • Reference the relevant Attribute Table and note the final value.
  • Write this value on your character sheet, noting the Character Point cost.
  • Repeat for the other three Attributes.

Once generated, my approach then goes on to randomly generate Skills, Advantages, and Disadvantages too. I’ll share the updates to those in a future post.

Let me know what you think by posting in the comments below. And, no, it’s not an April Fool.

Game on!

8 thoughts on “GURPS Random Attributes

  1. For this sort of thing my first thought would be changing the original 3d6 to 2d6+6 which merely assumes that one of the original 3d6 rolled a 6. This gives a range of 8-18 which is the actual viability range anyway? I’m not really boned up on GURPS so maybe I’m missing something… probably maths!

    1. 2d6+6 is something I considered but you can still have massive differences in generated values: consider you are rolling DX and IQ on a range of 8-18; that is a range of -40 to +160 character points for each Attribute. On ST and HT that range is -20 to +80 for each. The problem is the upper ranges – which are meant to be extremely rare in GURPS – are too easily reached. I am, however, considering the idea of 1d6+8 (inspired by my re-reading of AD&D2e’s Option VI) which gives a range of 9-14.

      1. If you’d still like to keep the bell curve, consider 8 + the middle die of 3d6. Or roll 6 dice, drop the lowest and the highest, and assign the remaining four to attributes (at +8).
        I think table lookups don’t really make stuff that simple. It’s not a complex idea, but it means that each player has to look up something. It’s clunky.

      2. I prefer the last idea. I was considering rolling 4d6 and assigning each with +8. Perhaps the 6d6 roll, dropping highest and lowest, is more of a push to the middle. My only worry is that removing dice is an extra step.

  2. How is the bell curve of the 2d6+6, resulting in 9 – 14.
    Sounds good if the curve favors the center.

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