Frozen, or, how I made Pitr a superhero and he still had a bad time

Frozen was a lot of fun to run – these

Here are the sheets I made:

Film Reroll (Frozen) Sheets 1.1

One thing you will immediately notice is that the sheets I have made, in distinct contrast to all the sheets Paulo makes us, these ones depict actual heroic characters.  Ana is the smallest of them, and even she comes out to [306] – Multimillionaire, Status 6, Luck 3, Serendipity 2… they don’t come cheap!  But heck, watch the movie – I don’t think I was overly generous!

Ana is a bit of a social superhero.  With Status 6, Beautiful, and Charisma 3, she’s got a pretty substantial bonus to Reaction Rolls – to an average citizen (male) with Status 0, she gets +13 to all reactions, essentially ensuring a Very Good reaction (at worst!) from anyone who’s not predisposed to dislike her.  We can add to this the fact that many of the people she interacts with in the big group in the first episode of the movie work for her, either directly or indirectly!  I didn’t give either of the princesses Rank, although I probably should have… just imagine that Arandelle is a more informal monarchy, where everyone obeys the rulers because they’re just naturally more high class than the general populace.  Social Engineering: Pulling Rank has expanded rules for the use of Rank to interact with large organizations, but probably isn’t necessary for the monarchs of a kingdom – people ought to generally just obey Ana and Elsa (who has Status 7, Beautiful, and Charisma 1, for +12).  But yeah, I should have given Elsa some Rank, certainly, and probably Ana too (although an argument could be made for Courtesy Rank, which gives the titles and social deference, but not the direct authority).

Elsa’s powers all have Uncontrollable – which sometimes randomly triggers powers when you fail Fright Checks.  And of course, since I was absolutely punishing Pitr with Fright Checks, that actually happens .  She’s also got Modular Abilities (Cosmic Power), which is because I didn’t want to stat up ice powers, and didn’t want to have to argue with Pitr about what he could or couldn’t do.   Simple answer: whatever he wants, up to [100].  A hundred points buys you a lot of magic ice power, so we could leave things up to Pitr’s imagination – he made good use of it!  That’s why I basically just let him do whatever he wants with the Powers.  In a longer campaign I might introduce a character to these sorts of powers with extensive use of penalties for complicated or unusual requests, then reduce those as the player gets used to the play, but part of the fun of a one-shot (three-shot?) is letting the superhero just go crazy with it.

Kristoff, of course, is a survival and mountaineering superhero.  Coming in at [347] CP, he’s quite capable!  I don’t think he really got to shine enough in this movie… Carting Ana around everywhere was putting a damper on the heroics.  He is actually a luge master, as it turns out in the episode, but that’s not a traditionally heroic activity, I think.

Ana’s cold rolls were not handled quite like they ought to have been.  In strong wind (like at the top of the mountain), she ought to have been rolling HT every 10 minutes, with -1 per 10° below 0 °F.  Failure costs 1 FP.  Instead, I gave Joz escalating HT-roll penalties at a fixed rate, and not really based on temperature… HT-4 rolls implies -40 °F!  For reference, the coldest recorded temperature in Norway is apparently -42 °F…

What would you do with a hundred points of cosmic Ice Power, and Status 7?  Complain about Disney rules?


This episode is even more rules-light than others, but it does have some interesting mechanics to it.  Most interesting, perhaps, is the fact that Paulo mapped out a whole labyrinth full of puzzles and riddles, depending on how Joz turned! Paulo has a habit of prepping really fabulous worlds with great detail… Maybe we can post his schema for this movie so you can play your own versions.  What do you think, Paulo?

Here’s Sarah’s character sheet:


I like that she’s got Magic Resistance 4 – it suits the power of her jaded teenage demeanor.  Versatile is a great advantage for Sarah, +1 for any task that requires imagination (which could be most of this movie, depending on how you ran it), but I don’t think I ever hear Joz noting the bonus… I do think Paulo gives Joz her points worth in Common Sense GM advice, though!

The combat with the worms in the quicksand is interesting.  She’s auto-grappled when she enters the quicksand, and can’t defend – I read this as more the quicksand grappling her automatically (an environmental Binding effect), and she then defends against the worms at a stiff penalty when they grapple (though we don’t hear her get to defend).  When she rakes the first worm with her nails, she rolls DX – I don’t hear a defense roll from the worm, or a damage roll.  I don’t think it’s important here, though, since she’s not going to kill all the worms with her bare hands – it’s not that kind of movie (though that would be a hilarious reboot of Labyrinth – a grizzled teenage Sarah straps up and lays waste to the Goblin Kingdom, ending in a John Woo-style showdown in the aerie of the Goblin King’s Castle).  The quick contest between the worms (rolling something) vs Sarah (rolling DX) is also interesting.  Technical Grappling introduces a lot more detail into the RAW treatment of grappling and pulling a target around and how to defend and break free from these techniques, but it’s far too many numbers for Pitr, se we’ll never use it on the show.  Instead, Paulo opts for a simple Quick Contest – with the worms presumably rolling whatever their grappling skill is (I’d’ve given them Wrestling), and Sarah rolling DX because she doesn’t have any grappling skills.  It keeps the action moving, but it seems to me that it’s a forgone conclusion that once she fell into the quicksand, she was headed to the Bog – three chances for the worms to win…

I assume Paulo rolls a Reaction Roll in the background to determine that Sarah has a really easy time with Sir Didymus (sp?), but we don’t really hear about it (here’s a place for Beautiful to give her something!).  I might have wanted Sarah to roll Leadership, or something… I’d probably have given her a point in it, though, considering she does a pretty god job in the movie leading a whole merry band.  Call me old-fashioned, but getting yourself a new NPC follower ought to require at least one roll.  Grumble.

Sarah’s got Detect Lies, which she uses to great advantage on Hoggle, but she spends a lot of time interrogating him, without the benefit of any points spent in the skill (or any Influence skills at all, in fact).  I wasn’t at the filming, so I don’t actually know how Paulo was running this on the show, but I might have been tempted to make Sarah use Interrogation at default: at IQ-5, Intimidation-3, or Psychology-4.  For Sarah, this ends up being a 6… not very helpful.  By RAW each question takes 5 minutes of questioning to get to an answer, but you can get +2 for a lengthy interrogation of over 2 hours, and up to +6 for torture (!).  Assuming she doesn’t want to spend her limited time with hot pokers (though it is Joz… so, you never know), that’s rough.  I think Detect Lies is a good complementary skill, but even so she’d be hard-pressed to get anywhere with that strategy.  Instead, Paulo and Joz mostly get through these scenes with RP, which is good for the podcast, but doesn’t leave a lot of mechanical details to talk through.

Hope you liked Labyrinth, let us know what you think about the mechanics Paulo and Joz use!

Jon Miller

Indiana Jones and the Calamity of Cairo

A two-parter!  We escape with the idol.  We escape with the ark.  We deliver the Allies a super-weapon.  Basically, we perform way better than the original team.  Also features the rapidly-becoming-usual incidental body count.

indianajones — sallah — marionravenwood

Indy’s skill levels.  Whoah.  Archeology 19 – not bad.  Of course he’s only got Teaching 11, so not great as a professor.  But in general he’s very capable – Traps, History, Whip, Fast Draw, Theology, Riding, Research all at 14 or better makes him one of the more capable adventurers we’ve had.  Interestingly enough, he’s not great on social skills (for someone with Handsome and Charisma…) – which is part of why my version if Indy pretty much solves most of his problems with Thrilling Heroics.  Daredevil is a nice little addition to any roll – it gives Indy +1 whenever he does something… needlessly reckless.

Marion tries to sever the spine.  This is totally possible in GURPS – Martial Arts introduces this as a hit location, targetable at -8 by a variety of damage types.  It’s got natural DR, like the skull, but has enhanced knockdown chance gets easily crippled, and if does get crippled it causes automatic knockdown + stunning and gives “severed spinal column” disadvantages.  So basically, Marion, lying on her back (and thus taking position penalties of -4), with a Nazi goon grappling her torso (another -4), is gonna use an improvised weapon (another -1 to -3, probably the worse in this instance), to attack the spine (-8).  Roll to hit, Marion: Knife – 19.  Then, if she hits, she has to “sever the spinal column” – which I’d interpret as a crippling spinal injury at the very least – so she needs to beat DR 3 and then the HP of the goon (9? 10?).  At least she’s got a weapon that she could plausibly call “cutting,” so she can multiply penetrating damage by 1.5… OK, so she needs to roll like 11 raw damage? With ST 9 and a broken bottle she’s probably rolling 1d – 3 damage, so also unlikely.  Just roll an attack Joz – don’t tempt the GM with unnecessary description, he never rewards that sort of behavior!

Sala is remarkably effective at punching Nazis, which I suppose is in character, and with ST 12 and boxing at DX + 4 it’s no surprise.  In the first part of this episode he fights a couple of guys in an alley and has no trouble whatsoever – and the rules are a pretty reasonable approximation of RAW too.  We cut out a bunch of the mechanical talk, and Paulo was ostensibly keeping track of penalties.  For instance, at one point Pitr confidently declares he’s gonna “sword [someone] to the face,” rolls, and declares he has succeeded by 2 – not nearly enough to hit if he was actually taking the penalty to aim to the face (which is -5).  The thing is, Pitr doesn’t actually know how aiming works in GURPS, so Paulo just gives him the benefit of not taking what he says terribly seriously – my interpretation was that it was assumed that Pitr was actually making an un-aimed attack, which he succeeded at.

Back to the Future 2: Tazed Again

Here are the character sheets we used for Back to the Future 2.

Doc Marty Jennifer

Man, episode 1.  Very different show back then…

“Roll ST:” In general, GURPS doesn’t use a lot of ST rolls.  This is for a variety of reasons, including the fact that ST doesn’t scale the same way the other attributes do.  What really happened (the first time, when Doc grabs Marty jr by the jacket) is that Paulo either didn’t want to roll a grappling contest, or didn’t remember the rules.  The second time, with Doc trying to lift Marty jr into the DeLorean, Paulo didn’t know the appropriate rules (check the lifting character’s lift on the encumbrance table, possibly a Lifting roll, or if you end up having to use extra effort an HT roll to avoid injury).  The HT roll wouldn’t have been any easier for Doc than the ST roll, and possibly Paulo’s “you throw out your back” was a little harsh, but eh.  Most problems end up resolved with sufficient application of a taser.

[Paulo’s note: Yeah, ST rolls were a shorthand I used early on, when I was trying to be as rules light as possible assuming our audience didn’t really know RPGs and just wanted to hear a fun story. People complained about that as not-proper-GURPS so I cut that out. As for the throwing out Doc’s back. I believe there was an HT roll that got cut in the edit for some reason (back then, most things that got cut in the edit were for bad sound; this was before we got mic stands.)]

Why does Jennifer have Archery?  No one knows.  What she doesn’t have is any interpersonal skills whatsoever.  The truth is, the movie really doesn’t give Jennifer much characterization… Joz’s insatiable blood-lust notwithstanding (and she does go straight for “knock the dude out,” doesn’t she?), Jennifer should probably have Diplomacy, or Sex Appeal, or something… So instead she “has” to assault Biff with a hoverboard.

“Does beautiful do anything for me right now?”  It does, in GURPS as written – it’s a pretty sizable bonus to reaction rolls.  Jennifer also has a level of Charisma, so getting what she wants from Biff (who likely doesn’t have super high Will) shouldn’t be too hard.  Social rules in GURPS aren’t just skill rolls – and people (our group, anyway) often forget the Reaction Roll.  The GM rolls this in secret (3d, higher is better), determining how well an NPC reacts to any given interaction, conversational gambit, or request.  Beautiful gives Jennifer +4 to reactions from anyone potentially attracted to you, which definitely includes Biff – and Charisma gives her another +1.  This essentially increases reactions by two levels – an average reaction becomes a very good one, a good one becomes excellent, etc.  Pretty powerful!

[Paulo’s note: I kind of disagree. I don’t think of reaction rolls as a test for what happens in that second, rather its a roll for what kind of person the NPC is, and therefore how they react to the person in front of them. For instance, if two characters meet and fall in love-at-first-sight, the game is telling us that’s who they were. They were destined to fall in love. It’s not saying that they had some probability of falling in love; they were always going to fall in love in this universe, even if in reality it required a dice roll to get there. So for me the reaction roll is part of the “premise” of the movie, and not part of the immediate gameplay. Thus if the interaction between two characters is shown in the movie, I don’t give them a fresh reaction roll unless they do something vastly different towards this character. I treat it like the movie has already made that roll for us. Old Biff should get a reaction roll towards Jennifer because they don’t meet in the movie, but I think I decided that based on the movie Old Biff reacts negatively towards everyone and didn’t give him reaction rolls to change that (or maybe I did give him one and he didn’t do well. I don’t really remember.)]

“Impulse-based Compulsions:” Marty has got Compulsion (Nobody calls you a chicken), for [-15].  I think I might have built this with a Code of Honor…  But Compulsion has a self-control roll, so it works out easily for a podcast – roll for it!

Reputation (slacker): Marty only got [-3] for this, but it’s literally the only thing any of the NPCs say about him.  I just noticed that on re-listening – every single person in this city leads with “he’s a real slacker.”  Take that, Marty.

Wow, those paradox rules! Punishing! But that’s the way with untested house rules, sometimes they wipe the party… Makes for a great one-shot for the podcast, though.  Jennifer’s Mundane Background turned out to be pretty critical for these rules, though it was infuriating during play.  Kudos to Joz for playing the character instead of the game.

[Paulo’s note: Sadly the original Paradox rules were written long hand before it occurred to me the show might be popular, and are lost to history. Here’s how they worked: Every time there was a failed Paradox roll, the degree of failure would be looked up in the consequence table (consequences were in families, so a failure by 1-4 was one set, 4-8 another, etc.) each consequence group had 6 possible consequences so we rolled a d6 to pick one. Every time there was a failed paradox roll, the penalty was increased by one, pushing us slowly into more serious consequences. The very serious consequences were only possible once you’d failed many times.

As for the balance, I don’t think they were as punitive as Jon makes them out to be. The party had several opportunities to get out in which they failed to take proper action (not criticizing, I think of it as good RPing rather than poor gameplay.) And they got pretty unlucky that once they had managed to calm Jennifer down and explain the issue to her, they rolled a consequence that wiped her memory. But in general, I agree that these are not rules I would use on a long-term campaign. For me, though, that’s why these one-shots are more appealing. To make a long campaign work you kinda have to treat your PCs with kid-gloves: It’s a bad thing if this character that they’ve spent all this time and energy on were to die. Therefore you either have to put them in situations where the probability of death is actually low, or you have to be ok with fudging the numbers from time to time. Neither of those sounds as satisfying to me. I like putting the players in difficult situations in which there is an actual high-probability of death. And that’s what the movies are usually doing (except the movies fudge the numbers.)]

That’s all from me – what do you think of the builds?