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GURPS Action 4: Specialists, Sean Punch 10 November 2015

This GURPS Action supplement expands character creation with greater flexibility in power level and skills, while keeping much of the simplictiy of the Action series.

This starts with the Basic Action Template, a 100-point core set of abilities common to pretty much all action characters. This in itself has options: there are 40 points to spend on advantage packages, and 50 to choose from disadvantages, with suggested combinations (called things like "Checkered Past", "Antisocial", "Hard-Boiled") but no formal requirements. Sidebars note how to combine this with different power levels (from 125-point Sidekicks to the 400-point Army of One), and suggest keeping a Slush Fund of ten or more unallocated points for fine tuning later in the process. Further sections deal with required traits, such as minimum physical and mental standards, and "good" disadvantages like Sense of Duty – as well as job-specific advantages like Legal Enforcement Powers and Military Rank.

The second chapter offers skill sets, 25-point packages of skills and other traits, which act as lenses on top of the Basic Action Template. Some of these are purely military, like "Airborne School" or "Urban Assault"; others move into the civilian side, like "Academic" or "Spin Doctor". There are also power-up packages, which get rather more cinematic: Gadgeteer, Martial Arts Master, Special Agent, and so on, some of which have prerequisites among the skill sets.

The final chapter deals with preparing the character for play: adding quirks if desired, making sure all the abilities from various skill sets are don't overlap or have too high a value (you get any surplus points back for the slush fund), optimising skills with lots of techniques or attributes with lots of skills, and possibly adding certain advantages too. Finally, the slush fund is spent on anything else that's wanted. Boxes suggest various things for the GM to tweak, such as whether the original Action templates are still available (they're more aggressively optimised to particular roles than the combinations available here, so may be overpowering), how to decide which skill sets to disallow, etc.

In essence this is a compromise in complexity between full-on GURPS character creation and the fairly restrictive (but quick to use) templates of Action 1. I've run Action quite a bit (not always in the modern world), and next time I do it I'll certainly allow this as an option. But even if you're not running an Action game, the skill sets in particular are useful shopping lists for quickly setting up a PC or NPC who's competent in particular areas. Action 4: Specialists is available from Warehouse 23.

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