Options for High-Tech* GURPS
By S. John Ross, copyright © 1998

A few years ago (1992), when I first took a serious interest in modern and near-future GURPS, I assembled a single-page "cheat sheet" of rules options and "generic guns" as a player-aid meant to help speed things along and undercut some of the hardware-detail-oriented play that I'd experienced . . . A good friend of mine, John Franks, had run a lot of Twilight:2000 for us (using GURPS rules) and John and a lot of the players were U.S. Marines. Sometimes, the game would degenerate into long, passionate debates on the pros and cons of gun models, and picky details about Polish APC variations. I wanted to avoid that.

With time, the "cheat sheet" matured, and became a kind of standard document that I used for everything from GURPS Supers to the Royal Hong Kong Police games that the "Otherworld Adventures" crowd used to play back in Virginia (GM'ed, usually, by Clint Gaige). Some parts of it were rendered obsolete as SJ Games caught up with the Compendia (this sheet used to have rules for scopes, but the ones in CII are better) . . . Some parts of it, in my opinion, were not rendered obsolete by newer rules, and they stayed put!

Two of our standard "house options" - Quick And Dirty Autofire and the Torso Blowthrough Rule - made it into GURPS Black Ops (pp. BO62-65, sidebars). Another - a big list of new Advantages, is already here on the site, as Beyond the Grip of Realism. The rest is now presented here, for your amusement. These are all "variants" meant to increase realism in some places, decrease detail in others - add salt to taste.

* The "FLEX" rules are great in low-tech games, too!

Variant Rules

Accuracy and Aiming: Aiming eliminates snap-shot, and gives +3 to skill per turn of aiming, up to the limit defined by Accuracy of the weapon (instead of all the Acc in a single turn). Aiming beyond this gives +1 per turn, to a limit of an additional +3. (This rule was originally suggested by John Nowak)

Opportunity Fire (Reactive Fire): Eliminate the Basic Set skill penalties for the number of hexes guarded, and replace them with the following: A character may choose any number of hexes within a 60-degree arc and guard them with no skill penalty. Each additional 60-degrees or fractions adds a cumulative -3 to skill. The guarded hexes must be withing the character's line-of-sight.

If the character is guarding a single hex, he may aim at it and gain accuracy bonuses. Otherwise, all reactive fire is an automatic snap-shot.

Reactive fire is limited to half RoF (round down, minimum 1).

A New Armor Stat: FLEX

Every suit of armor has three protection stats: Passive Defense (PD), Damage Resistance (DR), and Flexibility (FLEX). Sample FLEX for existing armor types are shown on the table. It replaces the current "blunt trauma" rules for flexible armor such as Kevlar.

Ablative Armor of any sort.............50
TL7+ Rigid Armor (from durasteel inserts to such stuff as Powered Combat Armor).............10
Medieval-Style Plate, Any Ultra-Tech "Soft" Armor (Monocrys, et al).............5
Kevlar, Hard Leather, Scale Armor.............3
Padded Cloth, Chainmail, Soft Leather.............2
Unpadded Chainmail, Denim.............1

The Rule: Whenever an armored character is hit for hand weapon or bullet/explosive damage, he takes crushing hits equal to [basic damage/FLEX], rounded down. This is in addition to any damage that penetrates the armor. If armor is layered, use the most favorable FLEX for the location in question.

Toughness and/or the Armor spell protects normally from such damage. If you take 3 points of cutting damage and 1 point of Blunt Trauma, a point of Toughness would change this into 2 points of cutting damage and zero points of Blunt Trauma.

Important: No character can take more damage from FLEX than [Location DR/FLEX] rounded down, in a single hit. Jot this limit down for easy reference.

Note that GURPS Vehicles already provides a "Flex" value for battlesuits. Alternately, our house rule for battlesuit FLEX is [(TLxTLxDR)/200], rounded to the nearest multiple of 50, minimum value 50.


The following is a "quick reference" set of TL 7 guns and accessories for GMs that don't want to bother with specific models of firearms (Malf. is "Crit" for all these guns). Note that Average Damage (Avg), Autofire Accuracy (AAcc), and Autofire Recoil (AARcl) stats are provided.

Generic Weapon Dam Avg SS Acc AAcc Range Wt RoF Shots ST Rcl AARcl Price
Handgun 2d+2 9 10 3 - 150/1800 3 3~ 15+1 9 -1 - $600
Heavy Handgun 3d 11 12 3 - 230/2500 5 3~ 9+1 12 -3 - $750
Revolver 3d-1 10 10 5 - 185/2000 3 3~ 6 10 -2 - $300
Pump Shotgun 4d 14 12 5 - 25/150 8 3~ 5+1 12 -3 - $700
Rifle 7d+1 26 14 11 - 1000/4600 9 1/2 5+1 12 -3 - $700
Military Rifle 5d 18 12 11 6 500/3800 8 12* 30+1 9 -1 -2 $1,600
Submachine Gun 3d-1 10 10 7 2 160/1900 8 10* 30 11 -1 -2 $650
Machine Pistol 3d-1 10 10 7 2 160/1900 4 12* 20 11 -5 -9 $650
Grenade Launcher Spc n/a 12 6 - Min14/400 7 1/4 1 12 -2 - $750
Under-Barrel GL Spc n/a 14 6 - Min14/400 4 1/4 1 11 -1 - $1,000
Big Machine Gun 7d 25 19 10 5 1000/4700 23 10 100 13 -1 -2 $9,000

Skills: The first three guns require Guns (Pistol), the shotgun Guns (Shotgun), both rifles Guns (Rifle), the SMG Guns (Light Automatic), the MP Guns (Machine Pistol), both GLs Guns (Grenade Launcher), and the Big Machine Gun uses Guns (Light Automatic) when fired "Rambo-Style."

Gun Quality: Fine weapons are available for quintuple price (+1 Acc); Very Fine weapons are 30x list price and have +2 Acc. Cheap guns are available for 60% listed price; reduce Acc by 1 and Malf is 16. Very Cheap weapons are 40% of listed price; reduce Acc by 2 and Malf is 15. See p.39 of Compendium II for more options.


Spare clips costs $20 and weigh 1/4 lb. empty, 3/4 lb. full. Holsters are $45,0.5 lb. A box of 100 bullets weighs 2 lbs. (4 lbs for Heavy Pistol bullets, 7 lbs. for Rifle ammo); see the Basic Set for prices. Shotgun ammo is typically $10 and 3 lbs for a box of 25 shells. A box of 100 pistol blanks is $15, and weighs 2 lbs. (Compendium I finally came along with more exact values for bullet weights, if you need them - they're on p.CII38).

A bandolier for rifle or pistol rounds costs $35, weighs one lb, and holds 50 rounds. Bandoliers for Shotguns cost and weigh the same but hold 20 rounds. Extended clips/drums are available for Pistol, Hvy Pistol, Rifle, Auto Rifle, SMG, and Machine Pistol. $75, 1/2 lb. empty, 1.5 lb. full, double ammo supply (weapons with extended clips cannot be holstered and are difficult to conceal, however).

Frag, Concussion, and Stun grenades are $100,1 lb. and may have a time fuse (2-5 seconds) or impact fuse (works on a 16 or less on 3d). Smoke or tear gas grenades cost $75. Grenades for the GLs (40mm M79-type rounds) are $30,1 lb. each.

Frags: These do 5d crushing damage from concussion/heat and 3d cut from fragmentation. Concussion, or "offensive" grenades do 6d crushing for concussion only; any fragmentation is incidental. 40mm launched grenades do 2d+2 crusing and 3d cutting.

Stun Greneades: These flash and thunder a lot. They deafen for 3dx10 seconds (1/4 time if HT roll is made). A HT+2 roll is needed to avoid blindness for 2d seconds. Any character near one is mentally stunned, and recovers at -3. A fright check at -2 must also be made. Damage is negligible; 1d-4 in adjacent hexes only, with no fragmentation worth speaking of.

Smoke and Gas Grenades: These come in two types: bursting and burning. Burst types are the best for adventuring purposes, as the cloud appears immediately (and lasts about 300 seconds, divided by wind speed in mph). Assume a radius of 5 hexes. Burning types ("hot smoke") are measured by total hexes. The shape they will take will depend on the way the wind is blowing. Assume a typical burning-type will fill 270 hexes at a speed of 3 hexes/second. Burning grenades get hot (up to 800 degrees!) while burning. Hot smoke lasts 150 seconds. Tear gas and smoke is covered on B132. Targeting through smoke is at -1 per hex, to a maximum total vision penalty of -10 (including darkness, etc). Smoke and gas clouds move at about 1/5 the actual wind speed (round down).

Dynamite: A case of standard (80% nitro) dynamite is 50 half-pound sticks, and costs $100 if you can prove legal reason to buy it. Each stick does 5d-2. Weak dynamite (30% nitro), does 3d-4, and costs $65 per case. A box of 100 blasting caps is $20, 5 lbs (the detonator and wires needed to use them is $2,000, 10 lbs). A 50-foot coil of uncut waterproof fuse is $6, and one-fifth of a pound.

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