Is that a mosey, or an amble?

by mshrm

One of the ways that people get thrown by terminology, I think, is sprinting. Natural enough, I suppose. They look at their character sheet, they see “Move”. (Well, actually, they more often see “Speed” and “Move” and then we have that discussion.) Clear enough. Then they hear that there’s a way to move a bit faster than that rate, and taking advantage of that way is called “sprinting”. So, they conclude that there’s two rates of movement in the GURPS system: sprinting at the higher rate, or walking at their listed Move.

Reasonable enough, but wrong. There’s lots more nuance than that.

When a character is sprinting, that character can still attack and defend (B395, “Attacking and Defending”), but can’t retreat or dive for cover. A standing character can do either while moving at full Move. The difference between sprinting and full Move isn’t the difference between walking and running; it’s the difference between running the 100m dash on a track at a full-tilt, head-down pace, versus running down the street as fast as you can while still being able to jump away if a dog pops out from behind a bush. Both still running, in other words.

Looking at the posture table on B551, we find that a crouching character can travel at 2/3 Move, or around Move 3 or 4, for your hypothetical recent graduate of Basic Training. Envision the western or war movie of your choice and you’ll almost certainly be able to envision this gait: “as fast as you can without standing up in front of a bullet”. Slower than a run, but still pretty vigorous.

Continuing down the chart, we find that our hypothetical character can work up an effective movement rate of 1 or 2 while kneeling or crawling. Again, this is “as fast as you can”, so when we talk about crawling, we’re not talking about the cute kind you find in baby pictures. We’re talking about the crawling that’s done underneath tables to get away from zombies. Motivated crawling, you might say.

A character who is lying down moves at a flat Move 1. That’s rolling around on the ground, and/or the “combat crawl”, commonly performed when one is flat on one’s stomach sliding under barbed wire while someone unfriendly and nearby operates a machine gun. It’s vigorous, but it isn’t the best way to cover ground. A standing person can easily keep up with someone crawling through a sand pit.

Costs AT LEAST 1 Fatigue per 15 seconds…


Finally, just for completeness sake, a seated character has no Move at all. They’ve gotta stand up, or roll into crawling, or do something to change posture.

According to the source of all knowledge, Wikipedia, the average human walking pace is a wee bit over 3 mph, or right at 1.5 yards per second, or halfway between Move 1 and 2. That’s consistent with expectations, I would say: walking is faster than a belly-crawl, but someone athletic and motivated can crawl fast enough that a pursuer on foot would have to crank it up to a trot. Imagine those zombies, chasing a victim who evades them by crawling under a table. Slow zombies don’t run, but they’ll shift to a sort of stiff-legged speed-walk.

Thus, if you want your character to creep, meander, or mosey, you’re talking about Move 1. Move 2 is a vigorous walk, the walk of someone with a purpose, someone checking their watch as they walk.

Usually, folks are more worried about their top speed, but still, it’s useful to gauge where the low end falls. We’ve had moments, here and there, in various campaigns, when somebody wanted to do a slow walk up to someone, during combat time, to avoid giving an aura of hurry. Usually it’s an attempt to intimidate. When those situations come up, it’s good to know the best pace.

It also helps when visualizing the characters’ actions within the game world. To pull one example totally at random for no reason at all from the DF campaign’s history: when TKotBO, the heavily-heavily-armored holy warrior from the original party, moved as fast as he possibly could with all that ironmongery hanging on him, he had Move 3. All the jokes aside, he wasn’t moving at a crawl. A crawl would be Move 2. TKotBO moved at a crouching run…