Monday, September 12, 2016

Mechanics: Encouraging Cooperation

I am using this cheesy clip art
ironically, honest. I am still cool.
I had a player ask about cooperative capabilities recently. He wanted to know how he and another player could work together to do any particular non-descript thing, so I had a look at the rules I have for all interesting methods of cooperative capabilities I could find. Let's see what we have.

Basic Set

Let's see the types of cooperative mechanics almost anyone can use first.

  • Special Rapport - This advantage on p.88 lets two characters have a supernatural bond which allows them to help each other easier.
  • Ceremonial Magic - This is an optional mechanic explained on p.238 where magic users can work together to cast much bigger spells. As it will be redundant, it's a safe assumption that most magic systems have similar mechanics, though I believe there are a handful of exceptions.
  • Long Tasks - an optional mechanic for handling tasks that are long... the threshold is arbitrary, but either more than a day or more than a week sound like appropriate ones. This can be found on p.346 and this explains two important concepts:
    • Tasks that take several hours can be easily (much more easily than in the real world) be split amongst friends to proportionately lower the work required.
    • Looked at carefully, the aside spells out the mechanics that will eventually be used for assistance/complementary rolls.

Martial Arts

  • Shield-Wall Training - On p. 51, this ability means you are good at protecting nearby friends, among other cool bonuses.
  • Teamwork - On p.52. This is the literal name of a perk, and it gives a lot of combat benefits when working closely with your friends.


  • There is an optional rule for coordinated attacks on p.165. This can help overwhelm active defenses or create a single more powerful attack.
  • Just a bit later, on p.170, we have rules for combining powers that allows us to combine similar abilities between many users to a greater effect.

Other Books

Alternate GURPS is one
of my favorite Pyramid
  • Complementary rolls - these are explained in GURPS Action 2 and Dungeon Fantasy 2 and give a bonus if someone has abilities that could help another person complete their task.
  • Team Efforts, also explained in those books are a mechanic for minimizing dice rolls when everyone is doing the same thing by having the best player roll for the group.
  • Granted by Familiar - This shows up in Dungeon Fantasy 5 among other places and allows one character to activate another character's advantages by being close. More detailed rules are explained in Granted by (Other) in Power-Ups 8.
  • A good Pyramid article that dials many of these articles up a bit is Team Up! in Alternate GURPS III.

Other Thoughts and Conclusion

I am almost certain this isn't an exhaustive list, and for sure, if you play word games with definitions, any time someone helps someone else they are being cooperative in some degree or other. I think the Teamwork perk and Coordinated Attacks were the closest to what my player was asking for. Using Granted By Other in conjunction could create an opportunity to create typical video game combo attacks (eg: two players take Innate Attack 1000 (Granted by the other guy, -40%, Accessibility, only when used in formation with the other guy, -20%) and then either the Teamwork perk or Coordinated Attacks technique. Now together both players can do something cool that neither could do by themselves. Make it work with the "combining powers" motif even better by making the extra advantage an alt. ability to the main one. Eg, Ice Wizard and Pyromancer have "Ice Cloud" and "Rain of Fire" respectively, but as alternate abilities to both they both know "Icy Hot Mess." This can make the combo attack cost a few points, but significantly less than it sound like it should cost. That said, one could just cast Ice Cloud and Rain of Fire at the same time using the perk and technique and just call this a signature move called "Icy Hot Mess."


  1. The dearth of teamwork methods was why Antoni and I wrote "Team Up!"

    1. I can't believe I forgot that! I incorporated it into the other books section! Thanks for reading!

  2. Another significant one is the Combining Powers option on Powers p. 170 which is the basis for the Gestalt rules on Psionic Powers pp. 9-10.


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