Friday, April 30, 2021

Estimating Animal Template Costs

Having made the Generic Beast Template, I wondered how useful it would be for quickly estimating animal costs, especially for advantages like morph and allies.

When estimating, we'll be looking at the ballpark cost, simply picking the appropriate lenses, the correct strength, and possibly adding one or two extras for animals with really unique traits. Ideally, our estimate will be just a few points over the actual cost.

Wolf Shapeshifting

How much does it cost to shapeshift into a ST 10 wolf? Well, that's [-44] for the generic beast template, [80] points for the Human inside lens, and an extra [3] points DR 1 (tough skin). Our estimate is [39] points, which means its not free to replace with the racial human template. If we fill out the template to match the wolf on page 458 of Gurps: Campaigns, the total cost is [33], which is pretty close.

Wolf Ally

That same wolf as an ally with the life experience lens ([30] points), and no human mind lens ([80] points) would be estimated at [-11] points. Once we actually calculate its cost, it comes out to be [-17] points. That puts wolves are on the lowest rung of allies, which is nice, because it lets us buy an entire pack for cheap.

Warhorse Ally

Trying something further afield, lets estimate a warhorse ally. The generic beast template is [-44] points, and give it the life experience lens [30] , the best of burden lens [-50], and  ST 24 [14*5 = 70]. Our estimate is [16] points. If we fill out the template to match the warhorse on page 460 of basic (matching traits and attributes) we get [4] points, which isn't too bad.

Bird Shapeshifting

Lets say we have a character with morph who wants to know how big of a bird they can be on a zero-point template pool. We start with [-44] for the generic beast template, plus the Human Inside Lens [80] and the Bird Lens [0]. This gives us a [36] point template: we need to lower ST by 6 in order to afford the template. A ST 4 bird is small compared to a human, and an eagle or pelican probably has more ST, but a Hawk, Raven, or Large Owl should be doable.

Snake Ally

A rattlesnake ally starts with [-44] for the basic template, the born natural lens [15], the vermiform lens [-20], ST 5 [-50] and it has a 2d toxic attack. The 2d toxic attack has four 1 day resistible cycles for +30%, resistible HT-4  for -10%, and is a +0% followup attack. The venom is worth [10] points. We estimate the ally is worth [-89] points (wow that's cheap!). What is the rattlesnake actually worth? Well, if we get into the weeds and do all of the math. its worth [-142]. That's a pretty big gap, [-53] points. Lets look closer at where it came from:

 At least some of the gap comes from having a lower than expected IQ. Rattlesnakes are given IQ 2, which drops the point value by about 20. They're also given low perception, which drops us by another 10. They also aren't given any special senses, which puts us down 20. And even though we gave it the smaller skill package, its not using all of those points. The IQ we could have perhaps predicted and accounted for. On the other hand, The rattlesnake template from gurps animalia includes a suit of advanced senses and extra skills that basic didn't include with the rattlesnake, so I don't feel too bad about being that short.


So the beast template didn't come out too shabby. It was always high, but usually only a little, and in most cases that's a good thing. It establishes that the creature being designed is within the budget. The one template that was pretty far off was the rattlesnake, and we found many of those missing points maybe should be included. I'm looking forward to using the Generic Beast Template, especially for games involving morph: I'm hoping to run one soon. 

Good luck with all of your critters!

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