Sunday, August 7, 2016

Fundamentals: How to do "Everything"

Blah blah, business, business, business.
So, sometimes we can't settle on one thing we want to do well, so sometimes we want the ability of ultimate flexibility. GURPS has a few ways to do this, and almost all of them are expensive, but why not catalog them anyway? Today, I'm speaking to abilities that let us become ridiculously flexible, so let's take a look at what they might be.

For the sake of this post, I'm mostly focusing on the advantages in Basic Set, but there are a few other abilities scattered here and there.

Basic Set

  • Contacts and Contact Group - having a good contact allows you to delegate to the people with the right skills and abilities to do the work for you. You aren't a master accountant? Take that job anyway, and ask Jennifer for "some" help, no one will know the difference! Build up a network of skilled friends and associates and you'll always know the right person for each problem you run into. Allies and Patrons are similar, but fulfill subtly different functions and needs.
  • Gadgeteer - With the Quick Gadgeteer advantage and some time to prepare, you can create a tool to solve any problem. This requires investing in a lot of engineering and armoury skills likely, as well as scrounging to find some parts, but there are Talents that can definitely bring the cost down.
  • Gizmos - Never find yourself wanting for just the right thing at just the right time. Gizmo is a bit cinematic but still has limits on price and size, and uses per session, if you want to go off the deep end, trade up for Snatcher and you have far less limitations in what tools and items you can summon from nowhere right when you need them.
  • Intuition - You don't know why, but you can often find the right answer to a problem in front of you just because you can guess well. This requires a decent IQ, but can lead to a character that always knows... at least one of the right choices to make. If you don't make mistakes, even though you don't know what you are doing, it's almost as good as being omnipotent!
  • Luck - similar to Intuition, but very mechanically different. You need to make the correct decision, but after the decision is made, you have unreasonably good odds of seeing the plan through to completion. Someone with Intuition and Luck could continuously bumble into great opportunities and defy all odds to succeed. Super Luck similarly can force absolute success at some particular task. Save it for the right moment, and even with steep situational modifiers or defaults, you have the guarantee of pulling it off perfectly.
  • Modular Abilities - The ability to change around points on the fly to have a certain subset of abilities at any given time, but always have the ability to be good at whatever is needed at the moment. This can be a really expensive method compared to others in terms of character points, but definitely a lot more predictable. You will either be able to do the thing you need to be able to do, or you won't. There's no cloud of anxiety (or it is much smaller) wondering if you played all the right cards and if the universe is bending its back just right for you like with Luck. The rules are very detailed and there are lots of ways to get discounts by using appropriate limitations on the advantage, making it not as bad as it might seem at first glance.
  • Serendipity - The world bends around the whims of what would be narratively convenient for you in a particular situation. If you just happen to always be around the right people, tools, and have just the right amount of preparation, and the problem is just the type you know how to handle, then it's easy work to make all the cards fall into place from there.
  • Shapeshifting - Specifically, the Morph variety, which requires a big bucket of points start with, but potentially allows one to take on any type of transformation for any abilities needed at a particular moment in time. Include Unlimited and No Memorization, and the price really ratchets up, but you can do anything anyone else can do at that point.
  • Wealth - Similar to social advantages, having a lot of wealth can enable hiring the right people for the right job and always having the top of the line equipment when necessary.You aren't really doing anything, but who cares if the things that need to happen just happen?
  • Wild Talent - The ability to use almost any skill, once a session. With retention, you can learn the skill permanently if you have character points, and with a few (expensive) modifiers, you can truly use any skill. It's only once per level, so you'll need a lot of levels.

Social Engineering - Back To School

In a slightly different vein, this supplement introduces the Accelerated Learning, a leveled advantage that can reduce the amount of time it takes to learn a new ability. If taken to a high enough level, one can sacrifice initial capability for insane potential.


In the Power-Ups series, there is a Talent, or really, a pseudo-talent, Jack of All Trades, which allows one to significantly reduce default penalties. Combined with modestly high attributes, one may attempt several difficult skills without knowing them and do reasonably well, especially if taking options like extra time for a few extra points or bought together with Luck.

Improvisational Magic

Some systems, like:
  • Divine Favor
  • Ritual Path Magic
  • Sorcery
Have an improvisation mechanic built into them, high levels of the root abilities in systems like this or many found in Thaumatology allow one to cast spells, or have them made on the fly to fit a particular situation. These all have stipulations that limit the effectiveness of them in one way or another, but building a foundation in them and developing the abilities will potentially allow for anything once a certain amount of mastery is acquired.

Other Thoughts and Conclusion

There are a lot of tools that lead to omnipotence in GURPS, and a lot of things can be finagled a bit to lead to the same. A character that can live forever and with the best library that man has ever known, for example, has all the time in the universe to learn everything. I'm sure I missed a few methods or tools, so be sure to let me know in the comments.

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