GURPS Random Dungeoneers

Back in 2020, I posted about GURPS Random Attributes and linked to an earlier post about random Advantages and Disadvantages on my old blog, UbiquitousRat.net. It has been brought to my attention that, my old blog having been shut down, the Ads/Disads article has disappeared. Some friends have asked I repost my notes for posterity… so here we are.

Inspiration

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.

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.
You can grab a .PDF of these tables by clicking this link.

Random Advantages & Disadvantages

The next step is for the player to roll 3d6 once on each of the random tables for an Advantage and a Disadvantage. These are adapted from the GURPS 3e Revised rules but also tinkered for fantasy flavour in the Dungeons of Thaarl:

Random Skills

From here, I have the player roll 2d6 for the number of skills known. For each skill, we roll 3d6 on the following table (also adapted from GURPS 3e Revised) and the player chooses one of the three skills on the row selected. I generally apply 2 points to each skill.

Grab the random Ads, Disads, and Skills tables in .PDF by clicking this link. I have also altered these tables to fit in with GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game and you can grab this DFRPG version from this link.

Equipment

To finish, the players can choose equipment. I allow one weapon from a choice of Axe, Broadsword, Knife (large), Quarterstaff, Mace, Shortsword, or Spear plus a Medium Shield.

Alternatively, characters skilled with missile weapons can trade the shield for a ranged weapon: Axe (throwing), Crossbow, Knife (large), Longbow, Shortbow, or Spear.

I then allow either a suit of Cloth or Leather armour (they almost always choose Leather, obviously) plus one choice from a selection of Quick Dungeon Equipment Packs:

And that’s it! Worked great for us back at the end of last year. Hope you find some value in it too.

Game on!

5 comments

  1. My concerns with this are:
    that bell curve affecting the random tables … high repetition on certain skills/adv/disadv
    and
    The equipment packs contents not being particularly ideal. I still feel that a 10’ pole has no place in a dungeon for example… and there’s only 1 pack with rope?!
    Waterskin, food, rope, light source, way to start a fire, would all be primary inclusions in a dungeoneer’s kit in my mind, with other elements, like spikes, hammer, holy water, parchments etc all optional extras.

    Still, u get most folks into GURPS n past the math-barrier, we do need some shortcuts, so the quick roll tables are definitely appreciated.

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    • In practice, the repetitions were not a problem. We made some 30+ characters over the initial campaign and all were unique enough in combination – I suppose the different result for each individual number on the curve is low (12.5% for the mid-curve).

      On kit, see the Personal Basics entry (B288): ‘Personal Basics (TL0). Minimum gear for camping: -2 to any Survival roll without it. Includes utensils, tinderbox or flint and steel, towel, etc., as TL permits. $5; 1 lb.’

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  2. Wolfchild
    What Che did not mention was that our characters were slaves forced to delve for treasure by the overlords. They did not expect us to live long enough that equipment mattered. Losing good equipment when we died would be a net loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “GURPS 1e-3e offered the simple system of rolling 3d6 for each Attribute and applying the result directly.” I came to GURPS in the 4th edition era, so I did not know GURPS had ever used random attributes. I’m shocked to see this. I wonder how it would work out if you applied the BRP fix for low numbers by changing stats such as IQ to 2d6+6, rather than 3d6. That ensures the character has at least an 8 (6 required for sapience) in the value.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tried that – along with the original 1e-3e roll 3d6 – but still felt it was a little too broad a range: you can get between -40pts and +160pts on DX or IQ respectively. That can add up, despite the bell curve mitigating the odds. But your mileage my vary.

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