Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Buying GATs

Generic Archetype Abilities

Generic Archetype Traits (called GATs) are unusual, special, or exceptional abilities that are both not specific to any particular genre and fall into the category of not-quite-super powers. As a general rule they are available in any game where you have APs although checking with the GM and other players is always a good idea.

GATS And Super Powers (And the Meta Game)

Generic Archetype Abilities are meant to be used to build “heroic” characters for various genres of fiction (for bullet-dodging higher-powered ‘action heroes’ also look at the Fast Company chapter). Using these rules, and with enough APs you can be quite a bit more than humanly possible.

This raises some questions about what exactly a Generic Archetype Trait is. In this section we sell:
v  Extra size and strength. If you buy enough of it you will be stronger than any human who has ever been measured.
v  Extra Toughness and actual armor. If you interpret this literally as an innate ability it would mean, for example, armored skin or that the character is able to absorb bullet fire without (much) consequence.
v  Abilities explicitly described as equipment (“Chainmail”). This could mean paying APs for “mundane equipment”—something that usually doesn’t happen for most games.
v  Extreme abilities such as the ability to unleash flurries of attacks or a “hail of bullets.” You can also buy the ability to apply your full Dodge roll against ranged attacks (bullets and lasers)—this is likely to fall into the category of a “super power” in many people’s minds.

So what does this all mean? Are GATs super powers or not? Are they equipment? Can you actually have a “normal person” being armored with the GAT “Tank”?

Here is our thinking:
1.       One of our goals with GATs was to take a set of abilities that many games would like to use (and which didn’t have a specific flavor) and put them all together in one place for convenience. We left actual super powers (like “teleport”) for the Powers chapter—but even so, some things (such as Armor as given in the ability “Tank”) are listed here because there are a lot of conditions where a character might have the Armor ability, you might want to track it with APs, and we wanted a “Generic” version of Armor in a centralized place where you would likely go looking for it.
2.       The interpretation of a GAT is left up to the players and can change from game to game or even between characters in the same game. Take a character with 8 / 40 Armor bought as a GAT. In one game that would be a literal super power (armored skin!). In another game it might be that the character is just “really, really tough.” In yet another game, the armor-effect could be defined as luck—attacks always seem to “miss” or “don’t get a good hit” or whatever. In many games that ability wouldn’t be legal if the characters aren’t allowed to have abilities like that. Finally: it might be worn armor if that piece of gear was not normally available to the characters without their spending APs for it. How the in-game fiction treats things can be quite different from how the mechanics treat these. That said, we expect more literal game than a less literal one—the “luck” interpretation could get hard to explain after a while.  Also note: we have specified some GATs as extreme meaning that they are not available when playing with either low numbers of APs or more “mundane” games.
3.       A GAT can indicate equipment. We included GATs that read like equipment even though characters don’t usually pay APs for mundane equipment and even though there are more detailed equipment rules later on. We did this because of the way that weapons work when they are bought (The “Level 1” vs. “Level +” Costs for damage). We wanted a (small) section of GATs that would buy damage at the Level 1 cost so that if players were playing a game where they were expected to pay APs for weapons the rules would be centralized. We described these as weapons and armor even though they could represent other things in a given game.

A Final Note On GAT Names: We’ve tried to give the GATs somewhat colorful names because it’s more interesting and they are “generic” already. Just because a GAT has a specific name doesn’t mean that’s the only way it can be interpreted. Usually the mechanical effect can be attributed to many different things. Work with the GM and other players to determine what is appropriate for a given game.

Covered In This Section:

Here’s what this chapter covers:
v  Combat GATS and “Non-Combat GATS:” We have divided the GAT list into two basic sections called Combat GATS (abilities that primarily improve your ability to fight or physical prowess) and Non-Combat GATS which do something else (like let you find clues or be a super scientist). The complexity here is that even “Non-Combat GATS” often have some element that can improve your ability in a fight. Many give extra Damage Points and some give Success Point Pools that can be used in combat as well as for other things. The distinction is usually around how dedicated the Generic Archetype Ability is to improving your combat ability and not “whether it improves it at all.”
v  How GATs Are Described: How GATS are described and what specific GAT notations mean. This section covers the two basic ways GATS are sold. The first is simply a fixed AP cost of, usually, 4 or 8 AP per level of the GAT. The other is a “Total Archetype Point” Cost-table where the cost of the GAT is based on the Total AP of the character (so a 40 AP character pays more than an 8 AP character).
v  GAT Bonuses: The different things a GAT may provide and how to manage them.
v  Equipment GATS: We spend a bit of time talking about Generic Archetype Abilities that are described as equipment (so you might see a GAT listed as “Chainmail.” Most GATS are simply innate abilities and, depending on how the game is being interpreted, even something described as “Gun and [Bulletproof] Vest” might, in some games, be, like, a super power or something. However we have included a short list of equipment-style GATS (especially for weapons) because it’ll help get some games going faster. There are more extensive equipment rules later in the book that you should look at if you are having trouble deciding if a character or game ought to have Equipment GATs in use.
v  Special GAT Rules: This section covers some specific GAT rules such as:
o    Buffs: GATs that improve other character’s abilities. You “aid your party members” with these.
o    Combat Enhancers / Unlocks: Some GATS don’t take effect until certain conditions in combat are met such as you block someone a few times (to learn their striking style) or you take damage, or so on.
o    The 8 AP Game: Although almost all GATS are legal when other Archetype Traits are legal that doesn’t mean all GATS are legal in every game. Some GATS are labeled “Extreme” and should be prohibited if the flavor of the game is meant to be grittier or more mundane.

Combat GATs and Non-Combat GATs

The two major sections of this chapter are Combat GATs and Non-Combat GATs. As the names imply, Combat GATs are primarily concerned with physical toughness, combat ability, and so on. They represent things like special training, extreme physical prowess, unusual toughness, special moves, and so on. It should be noted, however, that even “Non-Combat GATs” often give extra Damage Points (which are certainly useful in combat) or even Success Point Pools (see below) which can be used in a fight. Some even primarily give what could be considered combat abilities (such as extreme vehicular skills which could be applied to flying a fighter plane).

What gives?

The distinction is important because Non-Combat GATs usually have a primary focus that isn’t on Combat or, if it is, it is usually for a very specific element of combat (such as in the vehicular example). When Non-Combat GATS grant some “combat ability” they usually aren’t as good as the Combat GATs for the same points (for example: a Combat GAT Success Point Pool is usually full charged at the beginning of every combat—a Non-Combat SP Pool might only charge up once per game session).

If you are playing with optional rules about APs that can “only be spent for Combat things” vs. APs that will be spent on “Non-Combat things” (see Point Partitioning in the back of the book) then Combat GATS always count as Combat-abilities and Non-Combat GATs, even if they help with Combat in some ways, don’t.

How GATs Are Described

The basic GAT formats look like this

Vital Strike

Level [8,4 AP]
Description: You’ve been trained to strike vital locations (veins? nerve clusters? Vital organs?). On a hit by 6+ you add the listed damage to your attack! On a hit by +0 to +5 the vital-strike has no effect.
Vital Strike – Punch (HTH IMP)
8 AP
+8 AP
+18 IMP
Vital Strike – Sword (HTH PEN)
8 AP
+8 AP
+13 PEN
Vital Shot – Gun (RNG PEN)
8 AP
+8 AP
+10 PEN
Vital Shot – Blaster (RNG IMP)
8 AP
+8 AP
+12 IMP
Vital Strike – Punch (HTH IMP)
4 AP
+4 AP
+9 IMP
Vital Strike – Sword (HTH PEN)
4 AP
+4 AP
+7 PEN
Vital Strike – Gun (RNG PEN)
4 AP
+4 AP
+5 PEN
Vital Strike – Blaster (RNG IMP)
4 AP
+4 AP
+6 IMP
Name (Vital Strike): The name of the GAT. Note that many GATs have colorful names but the actual in-game representation could differ greatly.

Purchase Type (Level [8,4 AP]): This is a Fixed Cost GAT. It is purchased in Levels costing either 4 or 8 AP and the character can buy multiple levels.

Attack-Buy (L+): This GAT (and, indeed, all GATs other than the yellow ones) buy damage at the Level-Plus Rate rather than the Level-1 rate. This means that the damage added by Vital Strike can be added to whatever attack is appropriate.

Buy Column (‘1’, ‘2’, or ‘M’): This column indicates how many times the trait can be purchased for a given character. Usually the numbers are ‘1’ or ‘M’ where ‘M’ indicates Multiple (the character can have as many levels of the GAT as they have points for).

A-Cost Column (+X AP): Attack Cost is explained in detail in Chapter 1. In this case the ‘+’ means that the attack adds to a chain of attacks (Vital Strike must be paired with another attack of the appropriate type—even if it’s just a regular unarmed punch) and adds the listed AP cost to the “total cost” of that attack.


Level [8,4 AP]
Description: You can kill with your bare hands! This GAT allows you to buy L1 “weapon” style damage for barehanded attacks. This is probably due to extreme training of some sort but could be natural talent or something even weirder.
My Body Is My Weapon
8 AP
+8 AP
+16 Unarmed (HTH IMP) Damage
Deadly Hands!
4 AP
+4 AP
+8 Unarmed (HTH IMP) Damage

Purchase Type (L1): This (and the yellow color) indicates that the damage done is bought at the Level-1 Rate. Any attack the character launches can only have one Level 1 set of damage in its Chain (see Chapter 1).

As explained in Chapter 1, 8 AP spent on Unarmed will yield more damage per AP than 8 AP spent

Hard Core

TAP [.08,.08, .07]+3AP
Description: You are tough! You double your Hurt Condition. This does not affect Minor Wound Score.
v  The character gains +12 DP

Hard Core

Total Archetype Point Cost (TAP [.08,.08,.07]+3): This (and the red color) indicates that the GAT’s cost in APs is based on the character’s Total AP cost. If the character is built on 40 AP’s, “Hard Core” costs 3 APs. If the character is built on 16 AP’s, though, it only costs 1 AP. What, exactly, the numbers mean is detailed in the back of the book.

Note: TAP cost items can only ever be purchased once.

Buying a Level GAT
A wandering swordsman has 24 APs to spend and decides spend 12 APs on Sword Saint. The Type is listed as Level [4 AP] meaning it is sold at 4 AP per level. Each level gives +3 Sword Damage and +6 ADP. The character will deal +9 PEN damage with a sword blow (above whatever they get for their STR and the sword itself) and has +18 Ablative Damage Points.

Buying a TAP GAT
The wandering swordsman then decides to buy some Expertise GATs. The player selects Level 3 Expertise (+3 Skill, +3 Init) and checks the Cost Chart for 24 AP: 9 AP. The character has spent 12 AP on Sword Saint and now has spent 9 AP on +3 Expertise. The player applies the +3 Skill to their Melee Weapon skill moving it from a respectable  14- to an awesome 17- ! The character now has spent 21 AP and has 3 AP remaining.

The character invests the remainder in ADP, getting +18 APD for 3 AP.

Applying GAT Bonuses

Most a GAT may be bought is based on the GAT Type in the header. Here’s what they mean:
Bonus Type
Applying The Bonus
The Four Basic Damage Types: ‘Sword,’ ‘Gun’, ’Blaster’, and ‘Punch’
Often you will see combat GATs that give a bonus to a specific “Damage Type.” There are four basic types—the names here are descriptive only (‘Sword’ could be knife, claws, teeth, pincer, etc.):
v  Hand to Hand PEN Damage (Sword)
v  Hand to Hand IMP Damage (Punch)
v  Ranged PEN Damage (Gun)
v  Ranged IMP Damage (Blaster)

When buying a damage bonus you get the listed numerical increase (e.g. +2 Ranged PEN Damage per level) with the listed damage type (Guns, thrown knives, lasers, any Ranged attack that does PEN damage).

This damage bonus can be used with any attack the character has of the appropriate type (so +2 RANGED PEN will help with thrown knives or guns but not with a blaster or a punch or a sword-blow).
STR, BLD, DP, Armor, ADP, Damage (any sort)
Each level of a GAT that increases these adds its increase to the character’s stat. If you have a GAT that gives +2 STR, +5 BLD, and +8 DP per level and purchase 3 levels of it, the character has +6 STR, +15 BLD, and +24 DP.
CON, AGI (Bonus), Initiative, Negative Damage Modifiers (-DMs), or REA, Perception Modifiers, Extra Attacks
When a GAT or any other archetype ability increases one of these you only use the single highest increase from any source. Furthermore, if a GAT increases one of these (as Built gives +1 CON), even if you buy more than one level you only get the bonus once. So if you have a Cyber Heart (+2 CON) and you want to buy Built (+1 CON) you will not get the +1 CON Bonus for Built and should probably look into some other GAT.

NOTE: The bonuses are added “after” all figured stats are computed. Getting extra CON from a GAT increases your CON Roll but will not also increase your Damage Points the way it would if it were purchased using Character Points and the Resilient Trait.
Pluses to Skill Rolls
Some GATs give +1 or more to Skill Rolls. These bonuses are added to a specific skill (i.e. a combat skill or, perhaps, a science skill, etc.) and may only be added to one specific skill. The plus to the roll is added “after” the roll is purchased (so the cost to increase the skill roll is based on the level the character paid for in CP and not the combined roll of CP + Bonuses)
Success Point Pools
Success Point Pools (SP Pools) are listed in the form of X/Y [Type]. The value ‘X’ is the total-points in the pool when it is full. The value ‘Y’ is the “threshold” or number of SPs from the pool that can be spent on any one roll. The TYPE is usually OFFENSIVE, DEFENSIVE, EITHER, or NON-COMBAT. An example is 10/4 Offensive—the pool has 10 SPs when full, the player can spend up to 4 on any given roll that is being modified, and they may only be spent on OFFENSIVE rolls.
Special Bonus
A listed Special Bonus (such as extra CP for Appearance) is handled by the specific rules (no more than L4 appearance for Bronzed, for example).
Damage Points/ADP
Many GATs give extra DP or ADP even if they are not a Combat GAT and even if they seem to have nothing to do with being physically tougher. This is done for various reasons (such as rounding out the point values).
Extra Attacks
If a GAT gives “extra attacks” (+1 Attack, +2 Attack, etc.) that means a 5 REA attack (strike or shot) may be launched for 1 REA. Special moves that increase the REA cost of the attack may be launched for 1+the extra cost. Kicks can be launched for 2 REA.

Back of The Book - Success Point Pools
Characters with SP Pools can use them in a few specific  ways if you are employing the advanced rules. In the back of the book we go into this in detail.  Here are some of the basics.

Bidding Wars: If several characters with a stake in a die roll have SP Pools they may all spend SPs against (or in favor of) each other. When this is the case, the player  making the roll will start by declaring an SP point spend (“I increase by Armor Save by +2, spending 2 SPs”) and then other players may spend for or against going around the table. If the asking goes around once with no one changing their spend then the roll happens. All SPs declared are spent and once a spend is declared you can’t get them back if someone out-bids you.

When You Spend: Usually you have to “make your roll” to be able to spend SPs on it at all. There are a few exceptions to this (Armor Save spends). It’s also the case that sometimes you have to declare before the roll is made but other times you can declare after it is made. Here are the basics:

Armor Save: Spending 1 SP before an Armor Save is made can increase the Armor Save roll (Defensive spend) or reduce it (Offensive Spend). Usually only characters who are involved in the attack (the attacker or the target) can spend SPs on an armor save unless someone has a special ability “lend points.” If characters are working against each other this may result in bidding.

Initiative: If an un-modified Initiative roll is made successfully then SPs can be spent to increase the amount it was made by, thus making the character go faster in the Round order. These points are spent after the roll is made and may result in bidding.

Block/Dodge Rolls: Characters with Defensive Pools can spend SPs to increase their Block/Dodge rolls. The roll must have been made—but, if it was not made by enough the player may spend SPs to increase the amount made by in order to successfully avoid the attack.

Hit-By Rolls: After a to-hit roll is made, if it was made as an un-modified roll, the player can spend SPs to improve the amount hit-by. This adds to the Damage Modifier roll and counts for getting around blocks/dodges.

Equipment GATs

There is a section of combat GATs called “Weapons and Armor” which provide weapon-like effects (“Broadsword, 6 PEN HTH Damage”) and have equipment-like names. Here is what you should know about these:
1.       They are included here for simplicity if you are playing a game where you are expected to pay AP for weapons and armor (such as a super hero, super-martial artist, super-spy, or similar game). There is a more complete weapons listing in the back of the book.
2.       They may represent some kind of paranormal or mutant ability (especially the armor) if your character is allowed to have those: we usually don’t say how a specific effect must be portrayed in the game so if you buy “Sword” but work with the GM to allow it to be a martial-arts ‘spear hand’ that’s okay (note: there may be some better moves for that sort of thing in the Chi Martial Arts section—but, again, we’ve listed these here for simplicity).
3.       Weapon GATs buy L1 Damage (and can usually only be bought once). Other GATs buy at the L+ rate (fewer points of damage per AP) and can be bought multiple times. If you are using the GATs to create characters who will use APs for their attacks, you should consider investing 8 AP in one of these GATs so as to take advantage of the L1 damage rate.

Buying Equipment GATs and Other GATs
A player is making a 32 AP “gunslinger” in a post-apocalyptic game where most people don’t have any access to firearms. The players are told the rules for the game require them to pay APs for attacks if they wish to have them. The character pays 8 AP for the Equipment GAT Magnum which gives an 11 PEN gun (buying at the L1 cost) and then buys two levels of Gunslinger for an additional 8 AP getting +2 PEN damage (at the L+ rate) per level of Gunslinger as +4 ADP per level for a total of +4 PEN Damage (final damage with the gun: 15 PEN per shot) and 8 ADP.

Success Point Pools

Several of the GATs provide Success Point Pools (SPs). These are groups of SPs that can either be used for a specific purpose (as noted by the rules) or anything the character wants (some can even be given to other PCs—a violation of the “generic” Success Point rules!”). The specific GAT will tell when these pools refresh: usually either every combat or once per game session. In the latter case, the GM can declare that the pool has refreshed if a sufficient length of time has passed in the game (a day, usually).
Meta-Game: How Supernatural are GATs?
One of the things your group may want to think about is how “supernatural” GATs are. Certainly at high enough APs (24+) you start seeing characters who can easily absorb a bullet without too much trouble. We also don’t say precisely what certain things represent (ADP could be raw physical toughness, reliable luck, a convention where the character just “isn’t hit directly,” and so on). We don’t go into detail on this because different games, even with the same participants, will often work in different ways.

Success Points are usually not something a character will be aware of (unless the character is in a ‘video game’ reality or some such). They may, of course, ‘feel lucky’ or the in-game effect of loaning another character Success Points could be handled by the character shouting advice or even just being moral support—but however it is handled the specifics are up to the group.

As such it is possible to take two characters with exactly the same list of GATs (such as the gunslinger in the example above) and interpret them in two different ways. When the PC pays APs for an ability the convention is that it can’t be permanently removed and won’t be duplicated by  others without the points. If, in the above game, the characters are captured they can temporarily take the PCs gun—but the character can’t permanently lose it. If they throw it off a cliff they’ll get another one somehow and the GM and player should work together to have that make sense.

It could also be interpreted as a mystical ability (even though there is a separate magic section and that would be a better choice for games where magic is an option). In this case the ability to project damage is innate. Our take on these abilities is that they are usually on the ‘mundane’ side but don’t have to be.

Buffs and “Unlock” GATS

Some GATs allow you to “lend” your bonus to others as well as yourself. These are called Buffs (they “buff up” your teammates). Others only take effect when they are ‘triggered’ or ‘unlocked.’


Buff GATS can give bonuses to “everyone on your team,” characters who you lend the bonus to for no REA cost, or characters who you “lend the bonus to” for a listed REA cost. Exactly how these work “in game” will be up to the players. Lending SPs could be in the form of yelling advice, training, etc. Usually the effect is limited to less than 10 people and the distance that the advantage can be loaned is usually limited to a single field of battle. If playing with armies or the PC is a commander of troops then specialized GATs for that purpose will be more appropriate.


Unlocks, as stated above, are bonuses that only come into play after some condition is met (such as a number of Rounds of combat have passed or the character has been damaged, or so on). Usually an Unlock ability is usable immediately when the condition is hit and remains for the rest of the combat.

1 comment:

  1. Is the JAGSrpg website going to be updated or do you have a new one?