GURPS Dinosaurs Pseudo-Conversions: Charismatic Cretaceous Carnivores

The long overdue second post of GURPS Dinosaurs Pseudo-Conversions covers some of the more famous active hunters of the Cretaceous period that have become frequent stars in written and filmed media. This monstrous menagerie is made up of seven theropod dinosaurs, as well as one awe-inspiring crocodilian. As with any GURPS Dinosaurs Pseudo-Conversions post, refer to the introductory post for some basic conversion logic being used, as well as for mental lenses such as using PK’s house rules separating Will and Perception from IQ.

Carnotaurus [-21 Points]

Meta-Traits: Wild Animal [-30].

Attributes: ST +20 [40]; DX +2 [24]; IQ -7 [-140]; HT +2 [20].

Secondary Characteristics: SM +4; Will +7 [35]; Per +8 [40].

Advantages: Claws (Sharp) [5], Damage Resistance 4 (Cranial armor, upper layer; Skull only, -70%) [6], Damage Resistance 3 (Hide, lower layer) [15], Discriminatory Smell [15], Enhanced Move 2 (Ground move 12) [20], Horns (Short) [2], Striking Tail [4], Teeth (Sharp) [1].

Perks: Long-Range Smell1 [1], Scales [1].

Disadvantages: No Fine Manipulators [-30], No Physical Attack (Arms) [-10], Restricted Diet (Carnivore) [-10], Short Arms [-10], Short Lifespan 2 [-20].

  1. Source: GURPS Powers: Enhanced Senses, pg. 26.

Average Carnotaurus

ST: 30
DX: 12
IQ: 3
HT: 12

HP: 30
Will: 10
Per: 11
FP: 12

Speed: 6
Move: 6
Weight: 1.5 tons
SM: +4

Dodge: 9

Parry: N/A

DR: 3 (4 on skull)

Bite (13): 3d-1 cutting.
Kick (13): 3d cutting.
Horns (13): 3d+3 impaling.
Striking Tail (13): 3d crushing.

Traits: Discriminatory Smell, Enhanced Move 2 (Ground), Long-Range Smell, No Fine Manipulators, No Physical Attack (Arms), Restricted Diet (Carnivore), Short Arms, Short Lifespan 2, Wild Animal.

Skills: Brawling 14, Running 13, Tracking 12.


This 25′ to 30′ long theropod from Argentina takes the biological features of its family, the abelisaurids, to their logical extreme: slender legs, thick tail, relatively long neck, thick skull with rugose cranial ridges, big shoulders, and almost vestigial arms. Its snub nose and brow horns give it a unique facial profile put on the big screen in films such as Disney’s Dinosaur and the upcoming Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (both of which have a bulkier, more heavy-legged creature than the fossil material indicates). The morphology of its Carnotaurus‘ tail suggests it had thick, meaty tail muscles that would have been a great stabilizer during fast runs but also stiffen the connection between it and the hips, preventing it from being used to steer particularly well when turning. Conversely, its clawless and impotent vestigial hands would have had no capabilities whatsoever, with the weight of hunting and inter-species conflict being entirely placed on its long, muscular neck and vicious hatchet jaws.

At the time of the writing of GURPS Dinosaurs, the bone beds which yielded Carnotaurus were believed to be from somewhere in the early Cenomanian (~100-95 MYA), the first age of the Late Cretaceous, which would have placed it alongside famous Argentine giants such as Argentinosaurus and Giganotosaurus; further studies and better understanding of the formation in question in the over two decades since have instead revealed it to be from the early part of the Maastrichtian (~70 MYA), living alongside later dinosaurs from the country such as Austroraptor, Noasaurus, Dreadnoughtus, and Saltasaurus.

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Masks, Personas, and Flesh-Shaping: Playing With Shapeshifting (And a Few Other Advantages)

Happy Halloween, everyone! It’s unthinkable and shameful that we’re nearly through the entirety of October, yet I haven’t written even one post for the best month of the year. I’ve decided to rectify that by giving a generic GURPS post on a subject close to the spirit of the season: putting on a different guise. Shapeshifting, in both figurative and literal forms, features in stories, art, and cultural practices the world over. Why, exactly, are they so ubiquitous? Given that shapeshifting iconography goes back into prehistory, it seems like something that’s pretty big to the human consciousness, and the usual suggestion is that shapeshifting (or at least animal-related shapeshifting) related to crossing the perceived boundaries between humans and the rest of the natural world.

Whatever the reason for its prevalence, the theme of changing form has remained with us into the present day in both real world belief and fictional media alike. For GURPS, shapeshifting is primarily achieved through the two advantages listed under…well, Shapeshifting. In some edge cases, other advantages do come into play instead, but for the most part those two advantages are where any skin-changing spellcaster, superpowered hero, or strange esoteric being will be heading for mechanics. This isn’t nearly the end-all-be-all on shapeshifting as a concept – especially when it only covers advantages and disadvantages, not skill-based skill systems and such – nor do I expect anyone to find it on par with an officially published GURPS title, but hopefully it’s at least a somewhat useful set of gathered rambling thoughts on the subject. The post format was inspired by the one used by Christopher Rice/Ghostdancer for his GURPS 101 advantage posts, but tries to avoid adhering to it 100%, as 1. I’d prefer my words to flow in my own way, not someone else’s. 2. I’m not nearly the level of writer he is. I had originally planned to end this post with a set of premade shapeshifter goodies, but time was against me, so that will be a follow-up post at a later date. Continue reading

What’s in a Name?: Looking Past the Labels in GURPS Traits

In much of our culture, names and labels are important. Names are what we use to identify things, to identity others, and to identify ourselves. In certain stories and folklore, magic is heavily influenced by the power of names. And where would things like roads, instruction manuals, and maps be without labels? Of course, names can also be restrictive: a label that makes it hard to see past it and dig deeper. Names and labels were actually a problem I had myself when I first encountered GURPS in 2011 via a copy of GURPS Horror in the local brick and mortar store. Back then, I mostly had knowledge of systems that either carefully labeled and boxed everything or the polar opposite in the form of extremely freeform systems, and the idea of having a middle ground of defined traits that were also modular and not necessarily always just what their name and description entailed was novel to me. This post is sort of a combination of “don’t make that same mistakes past-me made” and “think outside the box”; nothing groundbreaking or world-shaking for most people who know the ins and outs of GURPS, but I collected from some thoughts I had while reminiscing on the subject anyway. Continue reading

You Don’t Need to Play a Setting to Find it Valuable

Two of the most recent additions to the GURPS stable were two new hardcover-only books published late December, GURPS Mars Attacks and GURPS Discworld Roleplaying Game. I picked up copies of both and enjoyed them immensely, which leads into a topic I felt like talking about for a bit. You see, while I do love the work of the late Sir Terry Pratchett, I’ve never really considered running a game on the Disc. Furthermore, I have no history with the Mars Attacks trading card series, and came into that book as someone only vaguely familiar with the aesthetics and artwork of its source material. So what do you do with two books you don’t play with? This post is my answer to that, with a short post made up of some probably self-explanatory bloviating about why setting books shouldn’t be a no-buy just because you aren’t using the setting. Continue reading

GURPS Dinosaurs Pseudo-Conversions: Ceratopsians

It was hard to choose what creatures should go up first on the docket of conversions from GURPS Dinosaurs. Go with the most popular and choose Tyrannosaurus and kin? Start at the beginning with some Palaeozoic sea life? Do the easiest thing and convert the hominid racial templates? Throw a complete curve ball and do some random small ornithopods?

The end answer I decided on was “none of the above”, and went with a charismatic group of well-known herbivores: the ceratopsians. This post covers all nine (technically eleven, but two are just brief mentions with “use the stats of this other dinosaur” at the end) ceratopsians featured in GURPS Dinosaurs, from central and eastern Asia’s ‘sheep of the Cretaceous’ to the famous three-horned face that stared into the final waning moments of the long and storied reign of the dinosaurs.

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GURPS Dinosaurs Pseudo-Conversions: An Introduction

1996: Bill Clinton wins a second term in office, Atlanta hosts the Summer Olympics, this new-fangled thing called “Pocket Monsters” is rocking Japan, and GURPS Dinosaurs for GURPS Third Edition comes out. This title was sort of a big deal, with big name palaeontologists such as Thomas Holtz and Jack Horner contributing to author Stephen Dedman’s committal to scientific accuracy. A lot can change in two decades, though. We’re both in the era of a fourth edition of GURPS and the field of palaeontology has evolved (no pun intended) by leaps and bounds. Conversions of GURPS Third Edition material to GURPS Fourth Edition is a popular thing, but what I plan on doing in this series of posts is a little bit different, in two ways in particular. Continue reading

The Ugly Truth: Thoughts on Making the Disfiguring Enhancement a Limitation

As odd as it may sound, today I’m going to be covering a single enhancement from an issue of Pyramid magazine: specifically, the Disfiguring enhancement to the Dependency disadvantage, courtesy of Christopher R. Rice in Pyramid issue #3-63, pg. 14. The premise is simple: as your HP drops from not getting whatever you are dependent on, your Appearance level drops with it. Ideas for using it as an advantage come to mind fairly fast: settings where magic deforms and warps the body, the transformation of the cultists of some terrible Old One into horrific flesh-things such as in the video game The Darkest Dungeon, or a huge power move that is extremely effective at dealing with your foes but corrodes and twists your body each time you use it as a tangible reminder of the costs of relying on it too much too quickly. Of course, just because something seems obvious in concept doesn’t mean that it’s quite so obvious when it comes down to dealing with the nuts and bolts… Continue reading