Saturday, April 5, 2014

GURPS Rules for Supply Pools

I ranted on Ammo Dumps and Gun Closets yesterday, and it was generally a well received concept. But it a rant, and I'd like to refine it into some useful house rules for GURPS (with a possible follow-on for Shadowrun). I'm going to be borrowing some concepts from the Action and Monster Hunter series.

Supply Pools

A supply pool is an abstraction of a collection of equipment. Instead of purchasing and tracking every individual spy and surveillance gadget or piece of medical equipment a character has, the character purchases a supply pool of the appropriate type and can draw equipment from the pool at appropriate times. Equipment in the supply pool is undefined and abstract; equipment drawn from the supply pool is defined, specific, and qualified. Equipment can be returned to the supply pool so as to draw out new and different equipment, but equipment destroyed in the field does not diminish the size of
the supply pool or mean that another instance of the exact same type of equipment can't be drawn from the supply pool again. Supply pools can be destroyed by enemy action against the base that they are stored in.

An individual supply pool might have a different name, depending on what it contains: ammo dumps for ammunition supply pools, gun closets for weapon supply pools, medicine cabinets for medical equipment supply pools, pantries for food supply pools, and so forth. For simplicity, the rules will just use the term pool to refer to all of them unless dealing with special cases for a specific type.

Defining a Supply Pool

There are two types of supply pools: pools for consumable equipment (ammunition, food, etc) and pools for non-consumable equipment (guns, armor, optics). Generally, only one or two items can be drawn from a non-consumable pool at a time, while dozens or hundreds of items can be drawn from a consumable pool.

Consumable Pools

Consumable pools contain a large stock of many different types of consumable items, usually ammunition, explosives, batteries, drugs, or surveillance bugs. Each pool is defined by value of the most expensive item in the pool and the number of instances of that item that can be drawn at one time. Any time a character accesses the consumable pool, they may draw up to that many instances of a drug worth the pool value, and the same number of instances of every other item the pool could contain.
Example: Adrienne Volkova is TL10 adventurer with a $150x5 drug cache. Whenever she accesses her cache, she can grab up to 5 doses of antirad, but also 5 doses of analgine, hyperstim, morphazine, soothe, ascepaline, and purge. She can't grab any doses of crediline or memory-beta, since those are too expensive for her pool. (See Ultra-Tech 205 for drug names and costs).

Ammo Dumps
Ammo dumps work slightly differently than than other consumable pools. They are defined by the value of the most expensive normal ammunition they contain and the number of rounds of that ammunition that can be drawn at one time. Any time a character accesses the pool, they may draw up to that many rounds of normal ammunition for each gun they carry. They may also draw as many different types of specialty ammo for each gun as they like, but the number of rounds of each specialty ammo is divided by (1 + ammo CF).
Example: Scott is a monster hunter who has a $5x55 ammo dump. He's drawn a .40 auto pistol and a 7.62mm sniper rifle from his gun closets, and now is drawing ammo from his ammo dump for each of the guns. He gets four magazines of regular ammo for the pistol and five for the rifle, and two magazines of armor-piercing (CF +1) for each and a magazine of holy-water (CF +3). If he had also grabbed his shotgun, he could have loaded himself down with varying amounts of tear gas, dragons-breath, explosive, flare, and rock salt shells and slugs.

Non-consumable Pools

Non-consumable pools contain a stock of many different types of equipment, and are defined by the value of the most expensive item that can be drawn from the pool. Any time a character accesses the non-consumable pool, they may draw a single instance of any item valued equal to or less than the pool value, or two different items each worth half or less of the pool value.
Example: Adrienne also has a $2500 beam weapon pool. She could draw a heavy laser pistol ($2400) or an electro-laser pistol ($1800) or both of a laser pistol ($1100) and a hold-out laser ($300) at the same time. She could not draw both an electro-laser pistol and a hold-out laser, though.

Using a Pool

Each pool has a location. Whenever a character has access to that location, they can draw items from the pool or put back items they have drawn from the pool. The pool value defines the maximum amount that can be outside of the pool at one time, not the maximum amount that can be taken out during any single visit.

Items in a pool have no weight, though the pool itself weighs more than can be reasonably carried by a single person at one time. It is up to the GM's judgment if a pool is small enough to transported in a vehicle, based on the pool and the vehicle. A motorbike might carry a very small drug cache, while a tractor-trailer could reasonably have several different and large ammo, gun, drug, armor, and tool pools.

Items drawn from a pool have weight and count against the character's encumbrance normally. A sufficiently well supplied character might have a dozen gun closets and a huge ammo dump, and be able to draw twenty or more rounds of half-dozen specialty types for each of ten guns from those pools, but unless the character is inhumanly strong or has the Infinite Ammo: Over the Top perk, she won't be able to move with that much lead and steel weighing her down.

A character who cannot access the location where a pool is stored obviously cannot drawn items from the pool, and is limited to whatever equipment they currently have on them.

Abandoning, Destroying, Selling, and Transferring Items from a Pool

A character can abandon an item drawn from a pool without effecting the value of pool itself, and similarly, they can voluntarily destroy an item drawn from a pool. This is one of the advantages of pools, and it obviously necessary for consumable pools to even work.

If an item drawn from a pool is sold, given, or otherwise voluntarily transferred to someone else, the total value of a non-consumable pool is reduced by half the value of the item or the item count of a consumable pool is reduced by half the number of items transferred. The pool value is restored if the items are recovered and returned to the pool.

Transfers should be considered voluntary from the player's perspective, not from the character's perspective. Allowing a fellow PC or an Ally to pickpocket equipment from a character is a voluntary transfer.

Gizmos, Angles, and Foresight

A character with the Gizmo advantage can use that advantage to reveal any item they own and can fit in a coat pocket. A character with a supply pool theoretically owns anything and everything in pool with a value less than the pool value. If a character hasn't yet drawn anything from their supply pool when using a gizmo, they can draw anything from the pool as though they had access to the pool.

Similarly, characters using the Angles or Foresight rules (from Pyramid 3.53) can use an instance of Foresight or 2 points of Angle to draw any item from their pool as though they had access to the pool.

Purchasing a Pool

A non-consumable pool costs 3x its value. A consumable pool costs 10x the value of its maximum draw (cost of an item x number of items drawn) and increases its owner's cost of living by 1/20th its cost.
Example: Adrienne's $150x5 drug pool cost her $7500 to purchase and increases her CoL by $375. Her $2500 beam weapon pool also costs $7500 but doesn't increase her CoL.

Increasing the Value of a Pool

A pool's value can be increased by paying the difference between its current cost and the cost at the new value. A non-consumable pool can be increased in value by adding non-pool items to it: each item added to the pool increases the pool value by 1/10th the item's cost. Consumable pools cannot increase their value by adding new items to them.
Example: Scott has scavenged a five .38 snubnose revolvers and a compact pump shotgun from some vampire thralls. Not having a huge use for them, he adds them to his gun closet, increasing the value of the pool by (5x$350+$400)/10=$215,

Purchasing Non-Pool Items

A character can freely purchase items that are not in a pool, even if they have a pool of similar items. This is useful for purchasing signature gear or other extremely expensive items. Items that are not in a pool have to be tracked normally.
Example: Scott has a $5x55 ammo dump. He also has ten pure silver 7.62mm bullets, which are too expensive to draw from his pool (CF +49) and cost him $2500. He can always a draw a single silver bullet from his pool, but if he fires more than one silver bullet between visits to his ammo dump, he has to track how many of those ten silver bullets he has left.

Multiple Pools

A character can have multiple pools of the same type, either at the same location or at different locations. Pools can also be specified at whatever level of detail the character prefers: a generic equipment pool or a revolver gun closet are both valid options, but no more than two items can be drawn from any non-consumable pool at one time.


So are equipment pools worth it? I'd like to think so, but it depends on the game, the character, and the pool.

A single weapon specialist probably doesn't get much value from a gun closet, since the specialist wants a specific gun. On the other hand, a weapon master or ninja who wants to use a lot of different weapons with different characteristics (especially in a monster hunters game with exotic materials) probably appreciates the simplicity of a melee weapons cache that can be used to draw anything from a silver short sword to a holy kusari-gama depending on what is needed. Either of them would appreciate an ammo dump and possibly a pharmaceutical cabinet.

Specialty gear such as spy and surveillance gear is very useful for supply pools. A character might need a laser mike, a surveillance endoscope, and high quality digital camera, but rarely all at once. The existing wire rat kit could be reconceived as a 10x$100 supply pool for surveillance gear.

Originally, I had supply pools costing 5x the value of the best item in the pool, mimicking the rules for alternate advantages. As I thought about it, that was too much because its rare for there to be five distinct, expensive items in a gear category. 3x feels better, basically making supply pools into something like wildcard equipment.

I still might want to add some more specialty pool rules. I like how the ammo dump rules work different than the rules for explosives or drug caches. Gun accessories, vehicle accessories, and computers/software (for ultra tech or cyberpunk games) might need some more detail.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Ammo Dumps and Gun Closets

I've been reading a bunch of Shadowrun rules recently. I don't think I'll ever play the game itself, since it requires a level of system mastery that I'm not going to achieve and my current play groups would have little to no patience for the complexity of the rules. But I was enjoying the mental exercise of creating some sample characters.

At least until I got to the point of equipping the rigger (Shadowrun slang for a remote drone operator). The need to allocate limited funds amongst a half dozen or more different drones and vehicles, and then equip each of those drones separately with weapons, ammunition, sensors, accessories, autopilot programs, and network defense firewalls did a huge amount of damage to my enthusiasm for the game. It was just too much work.

I went around looking for some house rules to address the issue, but apparently the Shadowrun rules tinkerers mostly deal with further proliferating the already immense gear catalogs, and less on streamlining the game to be more playable. Then I bitched about the issue to one of my gaming groups, and everyone agreed that it was a problem - and one guy noted that as much as he enjoyed creating characters in GURPS, he didn't enjoy equipping those characters.

I can see his point. In a typical murder-hobo Dungeon Fantasy kind of game, starting funds are usually so restricted, and encumbrance so limited, that the equipping mini-game is tightly constrained. You need to buy 1-3 "good" weapons, the best armor you can afford and carry, whatever specialist gear that is appropriate to your role and budget, and some basic gear. It's a bit of a pain, but it's manageable. But in something like Monster Hunters, where the characters have reasonable to huge budgets, permanent bases to store stuff, and need a wide variety of mission specific equipment, it doesn't make sense to track every round of ammunition, pair of socks, or even specific gun.

Gun Closets, Ammo Dumps, and Motor Pools

Monster Hunters has some rules to abstract some equipment: on a day to day basis, characters who are still in contact with civilization can just have food, and if characters need to go into the wilderness for a few days, it's assumed they just grab some granola bars and beef jerky from the pantry and throw it in the back of the car, and their grocery bill increases slightly in the next month and no one needs to work out the details. The rules are informal, but they're the start of way to handle consumables, at least.

Those rules could be extended and formalized: pay $X to set up a supply of consumable resources, pay $X/Y every month to maintain it, and then your character always has a "sufficient" quantity of those resources as long as they can access the supply. So for (pulling out some numbers more or less at random) $2000 in up front costs and $100/month, a character could have an ammunition dump that
let her have 100 normal rounds for any pistol, rifle, or shotgun she had, and an additional 50 advanced rounds (AP, frangible, baton rounds for shotguns) for each weapon, and yet another 10 exotic rounds (silver, depleted uranium, meteoric iron) for each gun. The character would still be subject to weight penalties, of course, so she might carry less, and she'd be limited to what she had on her if she was cut off from her ammunition dump. So our sample Monster Hunter here might be carry a magazine of silver rounds for each of her pistols, but when the werewolves chase her out into open country and she can't get back to her car to restock, she has to take her shots very carefully. On the other hand, if she's staking vampires by driving to their lairs, she can just restock on her garlic tipped holy bullets after every fight, since she can just go back to her car to get more.

Using the same concept to track non-consumable equipment is trickier. Bullets get shot and food gets eaten, but rifles and swords are somewhat less likely to get destroyed during routine use. Still, it'd be convenient to be able to say "I have a gun closet," grab the appropriate gun with the right accessories for the task and hand, and not have to fret if that gun gets destroyed because there's a half-dozen more just like it on the rack. A gun closet might cost 5x the most expensive gun in the collection, with a monthly maintenance cost of 1/2 the most expensive gun, and allow a character to select a single weapon at a time. So the Monster Hunter above might have a $4500 pistol rack which lets her select any Glock, Colt, or Sig-Sauer pistol she wants (but not an IMI Desert Eagle) and a $5000 accessory closet that lets her use up to $1000 of reflex sights, laser sights, and quick draw holsters with that gun.

Thinking about that more, worrying about individual accessories is exactly what I don't want to do. The accessories rack might just be a leveled purchase, so if the character spends $5000, then she gets assorted gun dohickeys (laser sights, fast-draw rigs, speed-loaders) that give her a +1 to all skill rolls with her guns, and if she spends $25000, that bonus is increased to +2.

Something similar would need to be done for vehicles. I'm not sure if a better approach is to just buy individual vehicles and abstract their accessories, or to require characters to spend a huge some of money to have a vehicle pool. I'd move toward the former, because really only people like James Bond have a meaningful variety of different vehicles and he just gets them from Q, so that's more like a Patron advantage than equipment.

Signature Items

GURPS, at least, already has rules for signature items that are closely associated with a character. I don't think having a gun closet implies any changes for signature gear. A sniper might have his highly customized and personalized Barrett 82, and get the weapon bond perk for it, while a commando would closets of guns. The sniper gets to keep the Barrett as long as he doesn't try to damage it, and
the commando can actively throw away his guns if he needs to and replace them later.

To Be Continued

I definitely need to think more about these concepts. There are some good ideas, but I want to flesh them out more.