So when we played on Sunday, schedule conflicts conspired to having some players run other player's characters for part of the session.
Even given a pretty solid experience with GURPS, and having generally similar character sheets (although not exactly, since some people prefer my choice, others use their own), we ended up with some slowdowns as people tried to calculate stat with conditional modifiers.
I'm generally very positive, and this is kind of rant-ish. It's generally just a thought about what happens with what seem to be nice little conditional modifiers.
Fit was a prime example here on Sunday. It seems pretty straightforward, but we still end up with a lot of questions about when it counts, when it doesn't count, scanning of other people's sheets to see if they have Fit, etc.
It's a theoretically conditional bonus, except it's a conditional bonus that applies close to 100% of the time. It's just a stat bonus with an important special effect and no secondary characteristic spillover.
You'd think "always add a +1" is easy, but not all of my players generally get it, we play two different campaigns and people often have to lean over and roll for a friend's character, meaning you always have to check. And if you miss the roll, people will double check for you to make sure you aren't dead or unconscious.
It's a lot more straightforward if you just raise the base stat. HT 13 is HT 13 is HT 13 is easier than HT 12 but +1 to all HT rolls, +2 versus falling unconscious, +1 to not die, etc.
It's also generally more straightforward if the conditions are clear. Hard to Kill gives +1/level to rolls against death* (what we call "death checks" around here.) Does it help versus falling unconscious? No. Versus poison resistance? No. Some of them are arguable, but it's hard to sustain "my Hard to Kill is +1 versus anything that might directly or indirectly lead to my death." Fit, well, does that +1 count to rolling against your HT for HT-resisted spells? I've long ruled no, just to avoid Rule of 16 edge-cases, but I can't say for sure if that's the intent.
You can mired in them, and a simple yes-no becomes, "Don't forget . . . "
Conditional benefits have a way of morphing, too, and expanding.
A good example is a house rule on All-Out Attack. Although I generally don't like 3e in my 4e, I liked the old 3e writeup of All-Out Attack that said you "ignore bodies and bad footing" for movement costs.
However, Sunday I noticed - probably finally noticed - that it had morphed from "no +1 per hex cost to move through Bad Footing or over bodies when using All-Out Attack" to "ignores Bad Footing penalties when All-Out Attacking" which become "Berserkers ignore Bad Footing" and thus means someone with Berserk who isn't even Berserk ignores Bad Footing on all attacks and if anyone else uses AOA you ignore bad footing.
I'm pretty sure it even went to "If you All-Out Attack (Determined) with a ranged weapon, you only get a +1 but ignore the -2 for bad footing."
Not intentional drift, but drift. The "ignore those bodies and charge!" rule went all the way to Berserk being Terrain Adaptation (All, only during combat).
Again, it's a conditional modifier that drifted and expanded as the rules get passed around the table via the Telephone Game while the GM is trying to keep track of everything but not do everyone's math for them.
As a general third point, conditional modifiers are easy to over-stack, leading to more confusion. You can easily get HT 12, Fit, Hard to Hill 2, Hard to Subdue 1, Resistant to Poison (+3) and Resistant to Disease (+8), and High Pain Threshold on the same character. Quick, what's his roll to get knocked out from a major wound to the vitals? Not quick, is it? And does Hard to Subdue help, since a failure by 5+ would knock him out? How about the HT-3 followup poison?
It's got me thinking.
Some of these things are easily fixable - I'm pretty certain I'm just going to toss the "ignores bodies and bad footing" rule I brought over from 3e. It'll slow down the berserker a bit, but it'll also mean one less special case to deal with. I like to toss out special cases, since there is a tendency to either ignore them (too special) or expand them (clearly this is also that case.)
Some are not, like Fit. Most of the PCs have it and all of them bought it mostly for a +1 to HT rolls. So taking that back would be troublesome. Plus, I'd need to cost the FP recovery element** because time constraint on recovery is a real element in my games. It's potentially doable, and I'll post some idle thoughts about it tomorrow or Thursday. But changing it means means going back and tinkering with PCs and ensuring it's still 5 points of value because of cost trade-offs.
Some we'll have to deal with via better bookkeeping, so people's numbers are easier to track when you have to roll for them. I've gotten some nice suggestions, we'll see if they work out.
But given a choice, I think I might winnow down the special cases and conditional modifiers more, just to speed things along. Not incidentally, I think it might keep people from going down the dead-end road of over-patching, too.
And I may have some ideas on changing some of the leveled bonuses, so they're on-off and clearer in how they work. Hopefully I'll have time to get to that this week. At least that way, if it's ON/OFF and pretty large (+3 not +1, for example) it's more obvious if it's counted, and a bigger to have or not have the trait. No one ever forgets their +3 for High Pain Threshold to shrug off major wounds or a +8 Resistant to Supernatural Powers!
That said, I went ahead and passed out a conditional modifier to Mo as a reward. He's got a +1 to social skills and reaction rolls from elf women. Just positive social skills - I'm not giving him a +1 to scare elf women with Intimidation, but I'll give him +1 on Sex Appeal or his default Fast-Talk or Diplomacy, not that he'll use those last two ever. You had him at "+1 on Sex Appeal." So I'm no saint on this issue. It's such a clear case, though, when it should apply, that I don't expect to have issues with it. Unless all of the named parts apply - positive social interaction + elf + woman + Mo it does not equal +1. That's easy, and it's rare and special.
Like I said, a bit rant-ish. I just find that as I have less time to game, I need to pare things down so it's easy for myself and everyone else to quickly resolve things. Conditional modifiers and special cases tend to slow things down even if just for a few seconds, and those are all precious moments we can spend discussing the orcs.
* And a cool effect of having you seem dead, so people with Bloodlust and foes departing the field might leave you for dead. Like Fit's FP recovery, it's an effect the stat just doesn't give.
** Which is worth 1 to as many as 5 points, probably closer to the bottom end of the range, given a 5 point trait that features it and a 15 point trait that features it plus extras.