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GURPS Card System

by Joe Goforth [xolusmojo@yahoo.com]

(Updated 23 March, 2001)

Character creation is as usual; the major difference is in game mechanics. Instead of using 3 six-sided dice, hereafter referred to as 3d6, the players will use standard playing cards. Numbered cards are just what they say the are for actions: 2 through 6 are at face value, but 7 to 10 are at 1/2 value rounded down. Each card suit corresponds with a Gurps attribute: Hearts = HT, Clubs = ST, Spades = DX, and Diamonds = IQ. This will be important when you want to Trump. We will discuss Trumping later on.

Using one or more standard deck/s of 52 cards, draw a hand of 5 cards. You must always play at least 1 card for actions or consulting tables. For damage or special rolls, use as many cards as there are d6 noted. In other words, 1 card is equal to 1d. The idea is to generate a number using cards instead of dice.

When "rolling" for damage or consulting a chart, 2 through 6 are normal value, but 7 to 10 are at 1/2 value rounded down also. Example - 7 is rounded down to a 3, 8 to 4, 9 to 4, 10 to 5. Face cards are a little different. Aces are always 1's. Jacks are always wild and can be played by or against anyone. Wild cards can be any number from 1 to 6. Queens are wild, but can only be played by or against Player Characters, otherwise they are 6's. Kings are wild also, but may only be played by or against Non-player Characters. Otherwise they are 6's too. Jokers are always 6's and can only be used by the holder. The joke's on you.

Once you have played your cards, they are discarded and you must draw an equal number of replacement cards.

Whenever an attribute such as ST or DX or a skill check is required, the player will play 1 card from their hand and add its value to their attribute or skill level. To see if the player succeeds, see Chart A.

Chart A
   Character Points    Goal
100 - 300 20-30
301 - 500 25-35
501 - 700 30-40
700+ 40-50

If these numbers seem high, fear not, they are achievable. Here's how: whenever you play a card, you draw a card from the draw deck - if it is the same suit, you can play this (trump) card also. You can also trump with cards already in your hand.

Say you are trying to climb a steep cliff and the GM assigns a -5 penalty - you have a skill of 14 in climbing, and play a 4 of clubs. 14 minus 5 is 9. 9 plus 4 is 13 - 7 points shy of the goal of 20. However you also have the 8 of clubs - since it's suit matches the card you just played, you may play it as well, making your total 21. You succeed! You may now draw 2 cards - if either of these cards are a club, you may play them as well. If you score 10 points beyond your goal, you get a critical success. Now, using the same scenario, say you only had 5 red cards - the 3, 7, 9, 4, and 5 of hearts (it could happen). You play the 3. Your modified skill of 9 minus 3 is 6. You fail. Draw a new card. Now let's suppose you had a really bad hand - the 8,9,and 7 of hearts and the 8 and 9 of diamonds. Any result of 10 points below your unmodified skill level is a critical miss, and any of these cards would put you there. You now have 2 options: you may draw a card, if it is a card that matches the suit of the attribute you are using, you may play it. Let's say you drew the 6 of clubs. Here's how it breaks down: Your modified skill level of 9 minus 7 is 2. 2 plus 6 produces a result of 8 - a normal failure. Your other option is to call Frustration - you discard all cards and spend 1 turn Stunned. You do not have to "roll" against you health to snap out of this stun, it just ends after 1 turn. You may do nothing during the turn you are stunned.

You get results for melee weapon damage by substituting cards for dice. Weapons with set damage amounts are treated a little different - take their minimum damage and add one card per each 2 full dice to it. The only way to get more damage is with trump. Example: a blaster pistol does 2d+3, the minimum is 5 points - you play the 5 of hearts, and trump the 4 of hearts for 14 points. When you draw to replace cards you get the jack of hearts. You can play it as well for a grand total of 25 points. You can only trump 3 times for such rolls. You may play any suit of cards for weapons with set damage rates.

The last thing to discuss is contest of type "rolls". They are pretty simple just add cards to the contesting attributes - the player with the highest score wins. There is no trump cap.

That's it - have fun!

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