Section 2 - Characters

When you roleplay, you take the part of another person – a “character” that you create. GURPS lets you decide exactly what kind of hero you will become. Asteroid miner? Wizard? Professional time-traveler? You can take your inspiration from a fictional hero or heroine, or create your new “self” from the ground up. Once you know what role you want to play, it’s time to bring that character to life!

The GM (Game Master – the person “running” the game) will give you a number of character points with which to “buy” your abilities. For instance, the stronger you want to be, the more points it will cost. You can also buy advantageous social traits, such as wealth, and special abilities called advantages.

If you want more abilities than you can afford on the budget given to you by your GM, you can get extra points by accepting below-average strength, appearance, wealth, social status, etc., or by taking disadvantages – specific handicaps such as bad vision or fear of heights.

The two most important things to know about your character are who he is and what role you want him to play in his adventures. Find out what kind of game the GM plans to run and what kinds of characters he intends to allow. Then start filling in the details. There are several ways to approach this.

You can choose the abilities you want, spend your character points, and work out a character concept that fits the abilities. A good character is much more than a collection of abilities, but “shopping” for abilities can be a great inspiration.

You might instead decide on your character’s focal qualities first – the handful of things that define him, such as personal history, appearance, behavior, aptitudes, and skills. Think about how he acquired those qualities, then spend your points on features that go with these traits.

Character Points

Character points are the “currency” of character creation. Anything that improves your abilities costs character points: you must spend points equal to the listed price of an ability to add that ability to your character sheet and use it in play. Anything that reduces your capabilities has a negative cost – that is, it gives you back some points. For instance, if you start with 125 points, buy 75 points of advantages, and take -15 points of disadvantages, you have 125 - 75 + 15 = 65 points remaining.

Hero Character Points

Stellar Winds heroes are categorized by groups based on overall point value. All heroes start off as new adventurers and graduate into upper categories as they adventure and become more skilled.

Feeble (Under 25 Points): Small children, mindless thralls, zombies, ect

Ordinary (25-50): Ordinary folks, such as administrators and tradesmen.

Competent (50-75): Athletes, cops, wealthy gentry & anyone who would have clear edge over the average people on an adventure.

Newbie Hero (75-100): These are characters that are at the start of being exceptional. These would represent an adventurer at the start of there career or a level 1-10 character.

Veteran Hero (100 -200): A Veteran hero has seen several adventures, several battlefields, and they have the experience. These characters would represent a lvl10-20 characters.

Epic Hero (300 - 400): An epic hero who's seen many adventures and has become completely confident in there skills. These character's deeds have altered history for better or worst and are revered as great or infamous people.

Legendary Hero (500+): These are characters that have conquered countless challenges and their name is remembered through folk lore and there deeds have been legendary.These characters begin to turn there gaze to the planes and beyond the world, and even to the gods themselves. They realize there is no heights they cannot achieve.

This beginning point level is sometimes referred to as the power level of the campaign.

Disadvantage Limit

A disadvantage is anything with a negative cost, including low attributes, reduced social status, and all the specific disabilities listed under Disadvantages. In theory, you could keep adding disadvantages until you had enough points to buy whatever advantages and skills you wanted. In parctice, most GMs will want to set a limit on the disadvantage points a PC may have. In Stellar Winds GURPS no one character can have more then 30% of they're starting points.

Basic Attributes

6 or less: Crippling. An attribute this bad severely constrains your lifestyle.
7: Poor Your limitations are immediately obvious to anyone who meets you. This is the lowest score you can have and still pass for “able-bodied.”
8 or 9: Below average. Such scores are limiting, but within the human norm. The GM may forbid attributes below 8 to active adventurers.
10: Average. Most humans get by just fine with a score of 10!
11 or 12: Above average. These scores are superior, but within the human norm.
13 or 14: Exceptional. Such an attribute is immediately apparent – as bulging muscles, feline grace, witty dialog, or glowing health – to those who meet you.
15 or more: Amazing. An attribute this high draws constant comment and probably guides your career choices.

Four numbers called “attributes” define your basic abilities: Strength (ST), Dexterity (DX), Intelligence (IQ), and Health (HT).

A score of 10 in any attribute is free, and represents the human average. Higher scores cost points: 10 points to raise ST or HT by one level, 20 points to raise DX or IQ by one level. Similarly, scores lower than 10 have a negative cost: -10 points per level for ST or HT, -20 points per level for DX or IQ. (Remember that negative point values mean you get those points back to spend on something else!)

Damage (dmg)

Your ST determines how much damage you do in unarmed combat or with a melee weapon. Two types of damage derive from ST:

Thrusting damage (abbreviated “thrust” or “thr”) is your basic damage with a punch, kick, or bite, or an attack with a thrusting weapon such as a spear or a rapier.

Swinging damage (abbreviated “swing” or “sw”) is your basic damage with a swung weapon, such as an axe, club, or sword – anything that acts as a lever to multiply your ST.

Consult the following table for your basic damage. This is given in “dice+adds” format.

ST Thrust Swing
1 1d-6 1d-5
2 1d-6 1d-5
3 1d-5 1d-4
4 1d-5 1d-4
5 1d-4 1d-3
6 1d-4 1d-3
7 1d-3 1d-2
8 1d-3 1d-2
9 1d-2 1d-1
10 1d-2 1d
11 1d-1 1d+1
12 1d-1 1d+2
13 1d 2d-1
14 1d 2d
15 1d+1 2d+1
16 1d+1 2d+2
17 1d+2 3d-1
18 1d+2 3d
19 2d-1 3d+1
20 2d-1 3d+2

Damage is sometimes abbreviated “Dmg.”
On your character sheet, list thrust followed
by swing, separated by a slash; e.g., if you had
ST 13, you would list “Damage 1d/2d-1.”

Most characters have attributes in the 1- 20 range, and most normal humans have scores in the 8-12 range. Scores above 20 are possible but typically reserved for god- like beings – ask the GM before buying such a value. At the other end of the scale, 1 is the minimum score for a human.

The basic attributes you select will deter- mine your abilities – your strengths and weaknesses – throughout the game.

Choose wisely:

Strength (ST) +/-10/Level

Strength measures physical power and bulk. It is crucial if you are a warrior in a primitive world, as high ST lets you dish out and absorb more damage in hand-to-hand combat. Any adventurer will find ST useful for lifting and throwing things, moving quickly with a load, etc. Strength is more “openended” than other attributes; scores greater than 20 are common among beings such as large animals, fantasy monsters, and robots.


Handedness decide whether you are right-handed or left-handed. Whenever you try to do anything significant with the other hand, you are at -4 to skill. This does not apply to things you normally do with your “off” hand, like using a shield. GURPS doesn't distinguish between left- and right-handed characters; either is 0 points. However, Ambidexterity is an advantage that costs points.

Dexterity (DX) +/- 20/Level

Dexterity measures a combination of agility, coordination, and fine motor ability. It controls your basic ability at most athlet- ic, fighting, and vehicle-operation skills, and at craft skills that call for a delicate touch. DX also helps determine Basic Speed (a measure of reaction time, and Basic Move (how fast you run).

Basic Lift (BL) 

Basic Lift is the maximum weight you can lift over your head with one hand in one second. It is equal to (STxST)/5 lbs. If BL is 10 lbs. or more, round to the near- est whole number; e.g., 16.2 lbs. becomes 16 lbs. The average human has ST 10 and a BL of 20 lbs.

Intelligence (IQ) +/- 20/Level

broadly measures brainpower, including creativity, intuition, memory, perception, reason, sanity, and willpower. It rules your basic ability with all “mental” skills – sciences, social interaction, magic, etc. Any wizard, scientist, or gadgeteer needs a high IQ first of all. The secondary characteristics of Will and Perception are based on IQ.

Health (HT) +/- 10/Level

Health measures energy and vitality. It represents stamina, resistance (to poison, disease, radiation, etc.), and basic “grit.” A high HT is good for anyone – but it is vital for low-tech warriors. HT determines Fatigue Points, and helps determine Basic Speed and Basic Move.

Secondary Characteristics

Secondary characteristics” are quantities that depend directly on your attributes. You can raise or lower these scores by adjusting your attributes. You can modify some of them directly: start with the value calculated from your attributes and spend the required points to adjust it away from that base level. This does not affect the related attribute scores.

Damage (Dmg)

see Striking ST (p. 88) Your ST determines how much damage you do in unarmed combat or with a melee weapon. Two types of damage derive from ST:

Thrusting damage (abbreviated “thrust” or “thr”) is your basic damage with a punch, kick, or bite, or an attack with a thrusting weapon such as a spear or a rapier.

Swinging damage (abbreviated “swing” or “sw”) is your basic damage with a swung weapon, such as an axe, club, or sword – anything that acts as a lever to multiply your ST.

Consult the Damage Table (p. 16) for your basic damage. This is given in “dice+adds” format; see Dice (p. 9). Note that specific attack forms and weapons can modify this!

Add 1d to both thrust and swing damage per full 10 points of ST above 100.

Basic Lift (BL)

see Lifting ST (p. 65) Basic Lift is the maximum weight you can lift over your head with one hand in one second. It is equal to (STxST)/5 lbs. If BL is 10 lbs. or more, round to the nearest whole number; e.g., 16.2 lbs. becomes 16 lbs. The average human has ST 10 and a BL of 20 lbs. Doubling the time lets you lift 2xBL overhead in one hand. Quadrupling the time, and using two hands, you can lift 8xBL overhead. Damage is often abbreviated “Dmg.” On your character sheet, list thrust followed by swing, separated by a slash; e.g., if you had ST 13, you would list “Dmg 1d/2d-1.” limitation of -80% (for Size Modifier +8 or higher). The amount of equipment you can carry – armor, backpacks, weapons, etc. – is derived from BL. For more on
this, as well as a ST-to-BL table, see Encumbrance and Move (p. 17).

Hit Points (HP)

±2 points per ±1 HP Hit Points represent your body’s ability to sustain injury. By default, you have HP equal to your ST. For
nstance, ST 10 gives 10 HP.

You can increase HP at the cost of 2 points per HP, or reduce HP for -2 points per HP. In a realistic campaign, the GM should not allow HP to vary by more than ±30% of ST; e.g., a ST 10 character could have between 7 and 13 HP. Nonhumans and supers are not subject to this limit.

You can temporarily lose HP to physical attacks (such as swords), energy attacks (such as lasers), supernatural attacks, disease, poison, hazards, and anything else that can injure or kill. You can also “burn” HP to power certain supernatural abilities. If you lose enough HP, you will eventually fall unconscious; if you lose too many HP, you will die. Lost HP do not reduce ST, despite being based on ST.

Injury is often compared to a multiple of your HP; e.g., “2xHP” or “HP/2.” Where this is the case, use your basic HP score in the formula, not your current HP total.

Special Limitations
Size: Large creatures may purchase HP more cheaply; see p. 19 for details. -10% x Size Modifier, to a maximum limitation of -80% (for Size Modifier +8 or higher).


±5 points per ±1 Will
Will measures your ability to withstand psychological stress (brainwashing, fear, hypnotism, interrogation, seduction, torture, etc.) and your resistance to supernatural attacks (magic, psionics, etc.). By default, Will is equal to IQ. You can increase it at the cost of 5 points per +1, or reduce it for -5 points per -1. You cannot raise Will past 20, or lower it by more than 4, without GM permission. Note that Will does not represent physical resistance – buy HT for that!

Perception (Per)

±5 points per ±1 Per
Perception represents your general alertness. The GM makes a “Sense roll” against your Per to determine whether you notice something (see Sense Rolls, p. 358). By default, Per equals IQ, but you can increase it for 5 points per +1, or reduce it for -5 points per -1. You cannot raise Per past 20, or lower it by more than 4, without GM permission.

Fatigue Points (FP)

±3 points per ±1 FP
Fatigue Points represent your body’s “energy supply.” By default, you have FP equal to your HT. For instance, HT 10 gives 10 FP. You can increase FP at the cost of 3 points per FP, or reduce FP for -3 points per FP. In a realistic campaign, the GM should not allow FP to vary by more than ±30% of HT; e.g., a HT 10 character could have between 7 and

Basic Move

±5 points per ±1 yard/second
Your Basic Move is your ground speed in yards per second. This is how times Earth’s gravity. All weights are multiplied by local gravity, so to function like someone with a given BL on Earth, multiply the desired BL by your home gravity and buy the ST corresponding to the adjusted BL. For instance, to operate in 1.2G as if you were a ST 10 person in 1G, start with BL for ST 10, which is 20 lbs., and multiply by 1.2 for gravity to get a BL of 24 lbs. This BL corresponds to ST 11, so you’d need ST 11 in 1.2G to function as well as a ST 10 person in 1G.

Move in Other Environments

Water Move is normally Basic Move/5, rounded down. You can increase water Move directly for 5 points per yard/second, or reduce it for -5 points per yard/second. Members of land-dwelling races must have Swimming skill (p. 224) to increase water Move, and cannot buy more than +2 yards/second. If you’re Amphibious (p. 40), both water and ground Move equal Basic Move, and changes to Basic Move adjust both scores. If you’re Aquatic (p. 145), water move equals Basic Move and ground Move is 0.

Stellar Winds Races Templates

A “character template” is a carefully structured list of the attribute levels, secondary characteristics, advantages, disadvantages, and skills the GM feels a PC should possess to fill a particular professional, social, or dramatic role in the campaign. The GM calculates all point costs in advance and gives the results with the template, reducing the amount of math involved in character creation. The main purpose of a character template is to prevent new players from overlooking vital abilities when choosing from among all the options in Chapters 1-6. The secondary goal is to accelerate character design. Thus, a template should list only necessary traits – not everything that might fit. The player should always have room to customize his PC!

Images and Looks

This defines your character’s intrinsic “social” traits: appearance, manner and bearing. Traits with positive point values (e.g., above-average Appearance, Voice) are considered advantages, and obey all the usual rules for advantages. Others (e.g., below-average appearance, Odious Personal Habits) have negative values, and are treated as disadvantages. Still others (e.g., height and weight, handedness) merely add “color".


Appearance is mostly a “special effect” – you may choose any physical appearance you like. Appearance is rated in levels. Most people have “Average” appearance, for 0 points. Good looks give a reaction bonus; this is an advantage and costs points. Unappealing looks give a reaction penalty; this is a disadvantage, and gives you back points.

Hideous: You have any sort of disgusting looks you can come up with: a severe skin disease, wall-eye … preferably several things at once. This gives -4 on reaction rolls. -16 points.

Ugly: As above, but not so bad – maybe only stringy hair and snaggle teeth. This gives -2 on reaction rolls. -8 points.

Unattractive: You look vaguely unappealing, but it’s nothing anyone can put a finger on. This gives -1 on reaction rolls. -4 points.

Average: The default level. Most people have Average appearance. 0 points.

Attractive: You don’t enter beauty contests, but are definitely good-looking. This gives +1 on reaction rolls. 4 points.

Handsome (or Beautiful): You could enter beauty contests. This gives +4 on reaction rolls made by those attracted to members of your sex, +2 from everyone else. 12 points.

Very Handsome (or Very Beautiful): You could win beauty contests – regularly. This gives +6 on reaction rolls made by those attracted to members of your sex, +2 from others. 16 points

Charisma 5 Points / level

You have a natural ability to impress and lead others. Anyone can acquire a semblance of charisma through looks, manners, and intelligence – but real charisma is independent of these things. Each level gives +1 on all reaction rolls made by sapient beings with whom you actively interact (converse, lecture, etc.); +1 to Influence rolls (see Influence Rolls, p. 24); and +1 to Leadership and Public Speaking skills. The GM may rule that your Charisma does not affect members of extremely alien races.

Odious Personal Habits -5, -10, or -15 Points

You usually or always behave in a fashion repugnant to others. An Odious Personal Habit (OPH) is worth -5 points for every -1 to reaction rolls made by people who notice your problem. Specify the behavior when you create your character, and work out the point value with the GM.

//Examples:/ /Body odor, constant scratching, or tuneless humming would give -1 to reactions, and are worth -5 points apiece. Constant bad puns or spitting on the floor would give -2 to reactions, worth -10 points apiece. We leave -15-point habits (-3 to reactions) to the imagination of those depraved enough to want them!

Voice 10 Points

You have a naturally clear, resonant, and attractive voice. This gives you +2 with any skill that depends on speaking or singing (with the GM’s approval, of course). You also get +2 on any reaction roll made by someone who can hear your voice.

Social Background

It is an advantage to be technologically advanced or linguistically talented. Inadequacy in these areas can be a crippling disadvantage.

Technology Level

“Technology level” (or “tech level”) is a number that rates technological development. The more advanced the society, the higher its TL. The GM will tell you the TL of his world.

Characters also have a TL, equal to that of the technology with which they are most familiar. Unless you are especially primitive or advanced, your personal TL will be the same as the world.

In some game worlds, your personal TL may differ from the campaign average. A world might be TL8 on average, but the citizens of one advanced nation might be TL9 while those from an underdeveloped region might be TL7.

Low TL -5 points/TL below campaign TL

Your personal TL is below that of the campaign world. You start with no knowledge (or default skill) relating to equipment above your personal TL. You can learn DX based technological skills (pertaining to vehicles, weapons, etc.) in play, if you can find a teacher, but fundamental differences in thinking prevent you from learning IQ based technological skills.

High TL 5 points/TL above campaign TL

Your personal TL is above that of the campaign world. You may enter play with skills relating to equipment up to your personal TL. This is most useful if you also have access to high-TL equipment, but the knowledge of a high-tech doctor or scientist can be very useful in a low-tech setting, even without specialized equipment!

None: You don’t know the language at all. 0 points.
Broken: You know just enough to get by in daily life, but you’re at -3 when using skills that depend on language. 1 point for spoken, 1 point for written.
Accented: You can communicate clearly. You’re only at -1 when using skills that depend on language. 2 points for spoken, 2 points for written.
Native: /You can use the language as well as an educated native. You start with one language at this level for free. 3 points for spoken, 3 points for written.


Your written comprehension level determines your degree of literacy in that

Illiteracy: A written comprehension level of None means that you cannot read the language at all.
Semi-literacy: A written comprehension level of Broken means you must read slowly. Roll vs. IQ just to get the basic meaning!
Literacy: A written comprehension of Accented or Native means you can read and write at full speed.
You get Native level written comprehension in your native language for free. It’s a disadvantage to
be less literate: -1 point for Accented, -2 points for Broken, or -3 points for None.


GURPS assumes that most characters can read and write their “native” language. This ability costs no points, but you should note your native language on your character sheet; e.g., “English (Native) [0].”

Comprehension Levels

The point cost to learn an additional language depends on your “comprehension level”: a measure of how well you function in that language overall. There are four comprehension levels.

Wealth & Influence

Now you need to determine your position in your society: How much money do you have, what privileges do you enjoy, and how do others react to you?

Wealth Variable

Wealth is relative. A middle-class American lives in more luxury than a medieval king, though he may have fewer gold coins in his basement. It all depends on the game world.

Personal wealth is rated in “wealth levels.” A level of “Average” costs no points, and lets you support an average lifestyle for your game world. The rest of these rules apply if you are unusually poor or wealthy, or have a source of income that does not require you to work.


The GM determines what jobs are available in the game world, either on his own or by encouraging the players to come up with ideas for jobs suited to their characters’ talents. In a historical campaign, the GM can reduce his workload by inviting the players to research and submit reliable information about the jobs they want!

Regardless of whether the GM or the players come up with the job’s description, the GM assigns its prerequisites, job roll, monthly pay, and wealth level. The next few sections explain these things.

This includes the job’s title, and tells exactly what kind of work the job entails. The GM should give hours, risks, guild or union affiliations, etc., and point to the occupational template for the job, if any.

be absolute (“Administration at 12+”) or relative (“Administration at IQ+2 or better”); the former is likely if the employer requires testing, the latter if the employer awards jobs on the basis of experience. In either case, candidates must have at least one point in the skill – default skill will not suffice! Some jobs also require specific advantages, or forbid certain disadvantages.

Wealth Level

The monthly pay numbers above are for workers of Average wealth. Assume that those of lower Wealth normally have jobs that pay less than this, while those of higher Wealth usually have jobs that pay more. Multiply the average pay and pay range for jobs suitable to a given wealth level by the starting wealth multiplier for that wealth level.

Dead Broke: You have no job, no source of income, no money, and no property other than the clothes you are wearing. Either you are unable to work or there are no jobs to be found. -25 points.
Poor: Your starting wealth is only 1/5 of the average for your society. Some jobs are not available to you, and no job you find pays very well. -15 points.
Struggling: Your starting wealth is only 1/2 of the average for your society. Any job is open to you (you can be a Struggling doctor or movie actor), but you don’t earn much. -10 points.
Average: The default wealth level, as explained above. 0 points.
Comfortable: You work for a living, but your lifestyle is better than most. Your starting wealth is twice the average. 10 points.
Wealthy: Your starting wealth is five times average; you live very well indeed. 20 points.
Very Wealthy: Your starting wealth is 20 times the average. 30 points.
Filthy Rich: Your starting wealth is 100 times average. You can buy almost anything you want without considering the cost. 50 points.

Job Roll

At the end of every month in which a character works, he must roll against one of the prerequisite skills for his job. This is called a job roll. For jobs with multiple prerequisite skills, the GM should specify whether the worker uses his best prerequisite, his worst prerequisite, or one specific skill at all times. This roll might be at a bonus for an easy job, at a penalty for a difficult one.

For jobs without prerequisites, the GM should specify either a flat success roll (e.g., “All characters roll vs. 12.”) or an attribute roll (e.g., “Roll ST.”).

Most jobs offer a fixed wage or salary. On anything but a critical success or critical failure, the worker collects the monthly pay for the job (see below). On a critical success, he gets a 10% permanent raise.

Other occupations are more variable; for instance, freelance jobs and work on commission. For these jobs, the worker earns the monthly pay if he makes his job roll exactly. For greater success, increase that month’s income by 10% times the margin of success; a critical success triples the month’s income! On a failure, decrease that month’s income by 10% times the margin of failure.

For any kind of job, a critical failure is always bad. At best, the worker will earn no pay for the month. He might also face demotion (at least a 10% reduction in monthly pay), lost savings (due to damages, fines, etc.), loss of job, on-the-job injury (due to an accident – or possibly a fight, if the job is a violent one), or arrest (especially at a criminal “job”). The GM should be creative!

The GM may set any pay he likes. The first table at right suggests a fair monthly pay for someone of Average wealth working at a “typical” job for his tech level.

Actual pay at each TL varies within a range bracketed by the typical monthly pay of the previous TL and that of the next TL; e.g., from $2,100 to $3,600 at TL8. Unless the economy is under some sort of stress or outside control, jobs near the high end of this range will be difficult (significant penalty to the job roll), dangerous (severe consequences on a critically failed job roll), or highly trained (many or high-level skill prerequisites). The more a job pays, the higher the Status it can support. The second table at right sums this up.

Tech Level Typical Monthly Payment - Wealth Level Multiplier Typical Status lvl
0 625 CR - Poor 1/5 -2
1 650 CR - Struggling 1/2 -1
2 675 CR - Average 1 0
3 700 CR - Comfortable 2 1
4 800 CR - Wealthy 5 2
5 1100 CR - Very Wealthy 20 3
6 1600 CR - Filthy Rich 100 4
7 2100 CR - Multimillionaire 1 1000 5
8 2600 CR - Multimillionaire 2 10,000 6
9 3600 CR - Multimillionaire 3 100,000 7
10 5600 CR - Multimillionaire 4 1,000,000 8

Monthly Pay

Each month on the job, a worker earns his monthly pay – modified for his job roll, as described above. Time spent adventuring is usually not “on the job,” although the GM might wish to make exceptions for vacations, work done while traveling, etc.


It is possible to be so well-known that your reputation becomes an advantage or a disadvantage. This affects reaction rolls made by NPCs.

The details of your reputation are entirely up to you; you can be known for bravery, ferocity, eating green snakes, or whatever you want. However, you must give specifics.

Specify the reaction-roll modifier that you get from people who recognize you. This determines the base cost of your reputation. For every +1 bonus to reaction rolls (up to +4), the cost is 5 points. For every -1 penalty (up to -4), the cost is -5 points.


Your formally recognized place in society is distinct from your personal fame and fortune.

Status 5 points / level

Status is a measure of social standing. In most game worlds, Status levels range from -2 (slave / outlaw) to 8 (Royalty), with the average man being Status 0 (commoner or ordinary citizen). If you do not specifically buy Status, you have Status 0. Status costs 5 points per level. For instance, Status 5 costs 25 points, while Status -2 is -10 points.

Status greater than 0 means you are a member of the ruling class in your culture. As a result, others in your culture only defer to you, giving you a bonus on all reaction rolls. Status less than 0 means you are a commoner or a slave, or simply very poor.


An “advantage” is a useful trait that gives you a mental, physical, or social “edge” over someone else who otherwise has the same abilities as you. Each advantage has a cost in character points. This is fixed for some advantages; others can be bought in “levels,” at a cost per level (e.g., Acute Vision costs 2 points/level, so if you want Acute Vision 6, you must pay 12 points).

Advantages with “Variable” cost are more complicated; read the advantage description for details. The GM has the final say as to whether a particular advantage suits a given character concept.


A “disadvantage” is a problem or imperfection that renders you less capable than your attributes, advantages, and skills would indicate. In addition to the traits in
this section, this includes anything with a negative point cost described earlier: low Status, below-average Wealth, etc.

You are probably wondering, “Why would I want to give my character disadvantages?” Each disadvantage has a negative cost in character points. Thus, disadvantages give you extra character points, which let you improve your character in other ways. And an imperfection or two makes your character more interesting and realistic, and adds to the fun of roleplaying!

Your GM might wish to “cap” the extra points you can gain from disadvantages. A good rule of thumb is to hold disadvantages to 30% of starting points – for instance, -45 points in a 150-point game – although this is entirely up to the GM.

Self Control for Mental Disadvantages

Many mental disadvantages do not affect you constantly – you may attempt to control your urges. An asterisk (*) appears next to the point cost of any disadvantage that offers a chance to resist. For each disadvantage like this, you must choose a self control number: the number you must roll on 3d to avoid giving in. This modifies point value as follows:

You resist quite rarely (roll of 6 or less): 2 x listed cost.
You resist fairly often (roll of 9 or less): 1.5 x listed cost.
You resist quite often (roll of 12 or less): listed cost.
You resist almost all the time (roll of 15 or less): 0.5 x listed cost.

Drop all fractions (e.g., -22.5 points becomes -22 points).

The “default” self-control number is 12: you must roll 12 or less on 3d to avoid giving in to your problem. This lets you use disadvantage costs as written. Choose a self-control number of 15 if you wish to have a tendency toward a disadvantage instead of a full-blown case. A self-control number of 9 will regularly limit your options. A self-control number of 6 can be crippling (especially with genuine psychiatric problems).

Note your self-control number in parentheses after the name of the disadvantage on your character sheet. For instance, if you can resist Berserk on a roll of 9 or less, write this as “Berserk (9).” and afflictions can make you more or less likely to give in. Other disadvantages can make you irritable, reducing your odds of resisting. See the disadvantage descriptions for details.

Example: Your self-control number is 15, but you are in a highly stressful situation that gives -5 to your self-control roll. You must roll 10 or less to resist your disadvantage.

You never have to try a self-control roll – you can always give in willingly, and it is good roleplaying to do so. However, there will be times when you really need to resist your urges, and that is what the roll is for. Be aware that if you attempt self-control rolls too often, the GM may penalize you for bad roleplaying by awarding you fewer earned points.

Optionally, the GM may permit you to use one unspent character point to “buy” an automatic success on a selfcontrol roll. Points spent this way are gone for good, but there will be times when staying on the straight and narrow is worth the sacrifice. In this case, the GM should not penalize you for bad roleplaying, because you are penalizing yourself!

Note that high Will helps you make Fright Checks and resist supernatural emotion control, but it does not improve self-control rolls – not even for disadvantages with effects identical to these things. Mental disadvantages represent an aspect of your personality that you cannot simply will (or reason) away. This is part of what makes them disadvantages!

Buying Off Disadvantages

You may use bonus points to “buy off” many disadvantages – whether you started with them or acquired them in play. This costs as many points as the disadvantage originally gave you. If the GM permits, you may buy off leveled disadvantages one level at a time. Likewise, you can buy off those with self-control numbers gradually, by raising the self-control number. In both cases, the point cost is the difference between your former level and your current one. For more on buying off disadvantages.

Villain Disadvantages

Some disadvantages – Sadism, for instance are not at all suitable for a “hero,” and the GM is free to forbid them to PCs. But they are often found in the more fiendish villains of adventure fiction, so they are included in the interest of good NPC creation.


“quirk” is a minor personality trait. It’s not an advantage and it’s not necessarily a disadvantage – it’s just something unique about your character. For instance, a major trait like Greed is a disadvantage. But if you insist on being paid in gold, that’s a quirk. You may take up to five quirks at -1 point apiece … and if you do, you will have five more points to spend. You can also “buy off” a quirk later on by paying 1 point but as a rule, you shouldn’t do that. Quirks might have a small cost, but they are a big part of what makes a character seem “real”!

Mental Quirks are minor personality traits. However, you must roleplay them. If you take the quirk “Dislikes heights,” but blithely climb trees and cliffs whenever you need to, the GM will penalize you for bad roleplaying.

To qualify as a mental quirk, a personality trait must meet one of two criteria: It requires a specific action, behavior, or choice on your part from time to time; or it gives you a small penalty very occasionally, or to a narrow set of actions.

Physical Quirks are physical disadvantages that are only mildly or rarely limiting. They do not require roleplaying, but they give specific, minor penalties in play.


A “skill” is a particular kind of knowledge; for instance, karate, physics, auto mechanics, or a death spell. Every skill is separate, though some skills help you to learn others. Just as in real life, you start your career with some skills and can learn more if you spend time training.

A number called “skill level” measures your ability with each of your skills: the higher the number, the greater your skill. For instance, “Shortsword-17” means a skill level of 17 with the shortsword. When you try to do something, you (or the GM) roll 3d against the appropriate skill, modified for that particular situation. If the number you roll is less than or equal to your modified score for that skill, you succeed! But a roll of 17 or 18 is an automatic failure. For more on skill rolls, modifiers, success, and failure.

Controlling Attribute

Each skill is based on one of the four basic attributes. Your skill level is calculated directly from this “controlling attribute”: the higher your attribute score, the more effective you are with every skill based on it! If your character concept calls for many skills based on a given attribute, you should consider starting with a high level in that attribute, as this will be most cost-effective in the long run.

ST-based skills depend wholly on brawn, and are very rare.
DX-based skills rely on coordination, reflexes, and steady hands.
IQ-based skills require knowledge, creativity, and reasoning ability.
HT-based skills are governed by physical fitness.

Difficulty Level

Some fields demand more study and practice than others. GURPS Lite uses three “difficulty levels” to rate the effort required to learn and improve a skill. The more difficult the skill, the more points you must spend to buy it at a given skill level.

Easy skillsare reasonably well after a short learning period.

Average skills include most combat skills, mundane job skills, and the practical social and survival skills that ordinary people use daily.

Hard skills require intensive formal study or training.

Technology Level

Certain skills are different at each tech level (see Technology Level, p. 7) and are designated by “/TL.” When you learn such a skill, you must learn it at a specific tech level (TL). Always note the TL when you write down such a skill. Navigation/TL2 (consult the stars and an astrolabe) is nothing like Navigation/TL8 (get your location off a GPS receiver).

You learn technological skills at your personal TL. You may also choose skills from a lower TL. You can only learn skills from a higher TL in play – and only if you have a teacher and the skill is not based on IQ. To learn IQ-based technological skills from a higher TL, you must first raise your personal TL.

Buying Skills

Most skills have a “default level”: the level at which you use the skill if you have no training. A skill has a default level if it is something that everybody can do … a little
bit. As a general rule, a skill defaults to its controlling attribute at -4 if Easy, -5 if Average, or -6 if Hard.

Some skills have no default level. For instance, Karate is complex enough that you cannot use it at all without training.

The Rule of 20

If a skill defaults to a basic attribute that is higher than 20, treat that attribute as 20 when figuring default skill. Superhuman characters get good defaults, but not super ones.

Who get's defaults?

Only individuals from a society where a skill is known may attempt a default roll against that skill. For instance, the default for Scuba skill assumes you are from a world where scuba gear exists and where most people would have some idea – if only from TV – of how to use it. A medieval knight transported to the 21st century would not get a default roll to use scuba gear the first time he saw it!


Some skills have other skills as prerequisites. This is the case when an advanced skill is based on, and in some ways an outgrowth of, a basic one. To study the advanced skill, you must have at least one point in the prerequisite skill.

Certain skills also require that you know a prerequisite skill at a minimum skill level. Where this is the case, you must spend the points required to learn the prerequisite skill at the specified level before you can learn the advanced skill.

A few skills have advantages as prerequisites. In order to learn such a skill, you must possess the required advantage. If you do not have the advantage, and cannot acquire it in play, you can never learn that skill.


Any skill used to operate equipment – e.g., Beam Weapons/TL11 (Pistol) or Driving/TL7 (Automobile) – takes a penalty when you are faced with an unfamiliar type of item. For instance, if you were trained on a laser pistol, a blaster pistol would be “unfamiliar.” Assume that an unfamiliar piece of equipment gives -2 to skill except where an individual skill description specifies otherwise.

In general, if you have the skill to use a piece of equipment, you are considered familiar with a new make or model after you have had eight hours of practice with it. Some skills require more or less practice than this, so be sure to read the skill description.

Skill Point Cost Learning Chart & Skill Level to Probability Success Chart
Final Skill lvl Easy Average Hard Very Hard - Skill Level Probability of Success
Attribute-3 - - - 1 - 3 0.5%
Attribute-2 - - 1 2 - 4 1.9%
Attribute-1 - 1 2 4 - 5 4.6%
Attribute+0 1 2 4 8 - 6 9.4%
Attribute+1 2 4 8 12 - 7 16.3
Attribute+2 4 8 12 16 - 8 26.9%
Attribute+3 8 12 16 20 - 9 37.5%
Attribute+4 12 16 20 24 - 10 50.0%
Attribute+5 16 20 24 28 - 11 62.5%
Attribute+6 20 24 28 32 - 12 74.1%
Attribute+7 24 28 32 36 - 13 83.8%
Attribute+8 28 32 36 40 - 15 90%
Attribute+10 32 36 40 44 - 16+ 98.1%
Extra +1 +4 +4 +4 +4 -

Character Improvement

At the end of each session, the GM may award bonus character points for good play; these are the same kind of points you used to create your character.

Bonus points are used to develop and improve your character. Record them as “unspent” on your character sheet. Then spend them the same way as during character creation, as follows:

To improve one of your basic attributes, you must spend character points equal to the point-cost difference between the old score and the new one. Note that improving basic attributes will also affect secondary characteristics!

Most advantages are inborn, and cannot be “bought” later on. Exceptions include Combat Reflexes and languages, which can be learned, and social advantages like Status, which can be earned (in some societies). To add an advantage, you must pay the appropriate character points.

A character may get rid of most beginning disadvantages by buying them off with points equal to the bonus earned when the disadvantage was taken, as long as the player and GM can agree on a logical explanation for this.

Earned character points can be used to increase your skills or add new ones. When you improve a skill, the cost is the difference between your current skill level and the cost of the new skill level.

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