Tuesday, May 21, 2013

GURPS Centurion: Quintus

GURPS Centurion: In my introduction to the Generic Universal Role-Playing System, I proclaimed that it had unrivaled versimilitude and granularity. To illustrate this, I will take some of the main characters from the Neil Marshall movie 'Centurion' and assign them stats according to GURPS. I'll also take a scene or two from the movie and use that to illustrate the deadly versimilitude of the combat system.

Gugh. So this is yet another long neglected series that hasn't seen any new material since 2011. But it's received good traffic despite that, and as a GURPS fan I've always wanted my blog to have a hefty chunk of GURPS material on it. Now I'll throw down some mandrake, wiggle my toes, stretch out my fingers, and we'll see if I can bring back the GURPS Centurion project.

Today I'll stat up and elaborate on the main character of the movie Centurion, Quintus Dias, who is played by Michael Fassbender. He's a centurion--in fact, he's the eponymous hero--and at the beginning of the movie he's stationed at a garrison that gets sacked by the Picts. Eventually he regroups with Virilus and the Ninth Legion and they set out north to attack the Picts on their own ground. Quintus is a natural, scrappy fighter that was taught to fight and understand his enemies by his father, a retired gladiator. He's got a limited, more persuasive form of charisma than Virilus, and since the men he interacts with are new acquaintances, much of his social acumen with them is displayed over the way he gets to know the group in order to better motivate them.

Once again, this is made with a focus on the GURPS Basic set, with only a little taken from Low-Tech and GURPS Martial Arts. Quintus Dias is basically a more adventure-conscious version of Virilus. Like the general, he has social and leadership qualities, but to a lesser degree. Also like Virilus, he gets his gear provided by the Roman military, although in the plot of the story he loses all of his gear right away only to get it replaced when he joins the Ninth Legion.

Quintus Dias [187 pts total]
Attributes [76 pts sub-total]: ST +2 [20]; DX +1 [20]; IQ +0 [0]; HT +3 [30]; HP -2 [-4]; Will +2 [10]; Per +0 [0]; FP +0 [0]

I viewed Quintus Dias as more of a glass hero than Virilus, so right off the bat I lowered his Strength by one and brought his HP down to the default of 10. This is largely to represent that he seems to take virtually no wounds in the course of the movie without getting seriously messed up, unlike many of the other protagonists who soldier through insane amounts of injury--Brick for the win, yo. I kept his Dexterity at a reasonable 11, since even though he's a capable fighter, he has a more flat-footed bearing, too. The amount of endurance Quintus displays in the course of just a few days of activity is amazing, though, and so I decided to give him 13 Health. Which is pretty rare for me, since in GURPS a little Health can go a long ways and I normally consider Health 13 or 14 to be borderline superhuman. Then again, him escaping shirtless through snowy ridges and out-hiking pursuers on horseback is kind of just the right amount of superhuman to merit Health 13.

Influence and Wealth [44 pts sub-total]: Languages: Latin (native), Pict (fluent) [4]; Cultures: Roman; Attractive [4], Wealthy [15], Military Rank 2 [10], Status 2 [10], Reputation 1 (large class of people, recognized on a 7 or less) [1]

One of the big things that sets Quintus apart from the other characters is his familiarity with the Pict language. Now, in an ordinary GURPS campaign I'd probably charge an Unusual Background of 5 points for that (basically, a GM-determined premium on something that should be more rare than the standard cost). But since it doesn't amount to that much of an advantage in the plot of the movie, I'd say the surcharge is unnecessary. I also gave him attractive, as I've recently discovered that Google's first two search suggestions for Michael Fassbender are regarding a previous role in which he went nekkid--I think that means he gets at least +1 reactions from the ladies. Alright, probably more, but since it doesn't come up in the plot of this movie we'll assume he's just everyman beefcake. He's got Wealth, Status, and Military Rank that fits his position as a centurion (which has some suggested stats in GURPS Fantasy on p. 222 and 223), and a minor Reputation to show Virilus' recognition and apparent admiration for his pedigree.

Advantages [23 pts sub-total]: Combat Reflexes [15], Fearlessness [8]

For his remaining advantages, I kept Quintus pretty much the same as Virilus. As a fighter, he shows a fair amount of skill, but nothing I'd deem worth any specific Advantages other than Combat Reflexes and Fearlessness. If he'd taken more injury at the end of the movie, I might have given him some Hard to Kill, but as it is it appears he pulls himself onto his horse just to bleed to death in front of his lady-friend. Also, if I were focusing more on Martial Arts, I'd probably give him a perk for knowing the fighting style of the Legion and the gladiatorial arena, since he seems to have the best dueling skill in the movie.

Disadvantages [-34 pts sub-total]: Broad-minded [-1], Code of Honor (Soldier's) [-10], Duty (extremely hazardous, always on-duty) [-20], Selfless (16 or more) [-3]

Quintus doesn't have a lot of disadvantages. Code of Honor (soldier's), and Duty are prerequisites for any of the protagonists, so really the only two flaws he displays that I felt fit GURPS disadvantages were Selfless and Broad-minded. Yes, both of those are disadvantages in GURPS. Selfless is a trait governed by self-control rolls where if you fail you put the needs of others ahead of your own. Since this is an RPG in a very violent campaign, being selfless can be stupidly dangerous--so I helped Q-ball out by making him resist his stupid altruism on a 15 or less. Similarly, Broad-minded is a low-level variant of Xenophilia, which is a character flaw where any new or strange culture enamors a character to an inordinate degree. I felt this represented Quintus' appreciation for the Picts and the way he and Arianne hit it off so quickly without having a remotely common cultural basis. Other than hot bodies in the Caledonian winter, that is.

Skills [78 pts sub-total]: Brawling DX+2 [4], Broadsword DX+2 [8], -TA(Broadsword thrust/Vitals) -2 [2], -TA(Broadsword swing/Neck) -1 [5], Knife DX [1], Shield DX+2 [4], Spear DX-1 [1], Animal Handling (Horses) IQ-1 [1], Riding (Horses) DX-1 [1], -Cavalry Training (Broadsword) -1 [2], Armoury (melee) IQ-1 [1], Carousing HT [1], Cartography IQ-1 [1], Diplomacy IQ-1 [2], Hiking HT+1 [4], History (1st Cent. Empire) IQ [4], Interrogation IQ-1 [1], Law (Roman) IQ-2 [1], Leadership IQ+2 [8], Navigation (land) IQ+2 [8], Savoir-Faire (Military) IQ+1 [2], Strategy (Land) IQ+1 [8], Tactics IQ+1 [8]

I gave our hero a bit more skill with the Broadsword, and I significantly boosted his neck-chopping technique since he gets the flashiest decapitation in the whole bloody flick. I nerfed his riding skill, which is probably unrealistic for a centurion and unfair for the character, but we never see him successfully ride a horse for very long when the fur starts to fly. I boosted his Tactics one increment, and then lowered a number of the IQ-based skills Virilus had, and dropped Politics and Public Speaking completely. Other than that, though, his skill-set is very similar to Virilus'.

At a total of 187 points, Quintus is significantly lighter weight overall than Virilus, but in a combat encounter he'd probably do better than Virilus despite the 18 points discrepancy. That's because Virilus is much more focused on social skills and advantages, which I already mentioned, and it also helps that Quintus is so light in disadvantages. If a typical GURPS player were making Quintus, they'd probably buy even more disadvantages for him to try to take the max discount the GM would allow. And if they were being a cheesy power-gamer, they'd probably have Quintus take a few more significant social Disadvantages to keep his points down while still leaving his combat prowess unhindered. But I don't like optimization as a GM or a player, and when representing a character from a movie or show optimization goes right out the window--I'm just statting what I see, folks.

You can review Etain and Virilus, along with my solemn pledge that the next addition to this feature series will take significantly less than two years to come.

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