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 (11): 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

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

Amazing Accoutrements (Usually) of Animals: Beastly Strikers and Other Nature-Inspired Abilities

Abilities, given a short introduction in GURPS Basic Set and expanded upon greatly in GURPS Powers, are a godsend for people who like to cut corners on the length of their stat blocks and character sheets. Sure, you could have a few dozen demonic critters with “Burning Attack 1d (Aura, +80%; incendiary, +10%; melee attack, reach C, -30%; severe pain, +40%) [10]” on their Advantages list…or you could just write it once in an introductory bit, name it something like “Hellfire Aura” or the like, and then just have “Hellfire Aura [10]” written on each of those demons’ stat blocks instead.

As I noted, GURPS Powers does a lot of legwork for the ability-conscious GM or player already. It’s got a load of superpowered attacks, inbuilt firearms, supernatural powers, and even some go-to generic venoms and poisons. What it doesn’t have, though, are any worked examples of the Striker advantage set as horns, tails, and the like. I assume it’s because Striker is a vastly less complicated advantage to work with than, say, Affliction, but the absence nonetheless sparked an idea in my head that ended up leading to the original bare-bones draft of this post. What started with strikers eventually expanded into other abilities based on animal body features, all of which I’ve revised and gathered up here for this post. If you like them, feel free to use them as-is or as a jumping off point for what you feel would be better suited for your own purposes.

Each entry is split into the statistics of the ability, the real world basis, and possible variants. Note that the listed name for variants are noted in parentheses in future stat blocks I create using them; for instance, a creature with the Horns ability that has both the Frail and Long variant additions would have its ability listed as “Horns (Long and Frail)” in its stat block.

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The Dawning of a New Blogging Day

Welcome to the Fossilized GURPS Blog, the latest in my series of questionably successful experiments in trying to get the creative thoughts out of my head and onto the web in spite of the various mental blocks my mind puts in my way. If you aren’t familiar with my history with roleplaying games, I’ll put the long and short of it in a single sentence. I started out with Star Wars, started dabbling in the idea of custom settings with d20 Modern, and eventually slid over into the territory of Steve Jackson Games Incorporated’s General Universal Role Playing System – GURPS, for short – early last year. Material here may not churn out at a particularly rapid pace, but it’s mine nonetheless.