RogerBW's Blog

GURPS Action 5: Dictionary of Danger, Sean Punch 27 January 2019

This GURPS Action supplement lists hazards from the real world (or at least the cinematic world) for use in action games.

The organisation is not the most obvious: one heading per letter of the alphabet. Explosives are under O for Ordnance (so are fireworks and flares); poisons might be under B for Botanical, C for Chemical, or M for Medical. Some sections are more general: D for Devious lets PCs search for something dangerous that isn't otherwise covered, and G for Generic mentions a variety of household items (a good combination with the Improvised Weapons table in GURPS Martial Arts).

The book is unusual in that it's all about the hazards of everyday life, rather than being shot or stabbed or fireballed; when the party next has a chase through a kitchen, they can be gassed by spice clouds or burned by frying oil; or perhaps they'll get into a fight in a rubbish pile, or aboard a yacht, or in a logging camp. While the rules are great to have, this book also serves as a list of suggestions where action scenes can happen with interesting context.

(One of the standard conflicts in the Die Hard generation of action films is the improvising smart guy, the Trickster, versus the well-armed tough guy. This book is full of things for the smart guy to do.)

Some of the best material here is in the surrounding text; the beginning of the book describes how to get foes into hazardous situations (whether by knockback, manhandling or trickery, the last expanded in X Marks the Spot), while the end looks as which sections are most appropriate to particular types of campaign.

This is all good solid practical GURPS material, and while there's certainly a cinematic bias I think it could be useful for any GM dealing with games set in something like the modern world if violence breaks out with any frequency; several points of difference between action films and the real world are explicitly noted. It's definitely being added to my list of books to have handy during games. Action 5: Dictionary of Danger is available from Warehouse 23.

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