As it turns out, it wasn’t that hard to whip up a data file to cause Perception to be based on HT, following some of the suggestions in “Playing With Health” from Pyramid 3/83: Alternate GURPS IV. I guess we’ll be using this alternative in the post-apoc game. The data file itself can be found here.
From the possibilities discussed in the article, I chose to based Per on HT, while leaving the cost of HT and IQ alone. I also decided to change the controlling Attribute of the long-range missile combat skills from DX to Per; for this game, probably the chief skill affected is Guns. This steals some of the utility of both DX and IQ to add to the utility of HT.
It has always seemed to me, looking at the characters my players create, that DX and IQ are heavily emphasized. Understandably so, since they control so many Skills. I’ve seen the beginnings of the attribute arms race. In the Space Cowboys game, there was a bit of a scuffle over which character would have the highest IQ. If memory serves, the high water point was IQ 15, which seemed… maybe a little excessive, for a ostensibly realistic, non-cinematic campaign.
I remember, back in the early ’90’s, playing a lot of Champions, in a campaign that centered on the team more than the individual members. Between shifting groups of players and the sheer joy of the mini-game of designing characters — at the time, point-based character creation was fairly novel to us — there were a lot of PCs generated. It didn’t take long for a spirit of one-upmanship to develop. Nor did it take long for everyone to realize how key the Dexterity attribute was to combat. The first generation of heroes had scores hovering around 15-18, and all was well… until someone brought in a new character, angling to take over as this team’s Wolverine, with a 21. Of course, the next guy had to have a 24. And so on, and so on, until the average score for the team was way outside the expected range. It was like playing an Avengers team made up of Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Spider-Girl, Venom, and Frog-Man. Folks were dedicating a third of their points to one attribute.
Now, I have no fear of this happening in a GURPS game. I think GURPS does an excellent job of muddying the waters so there’s no one obvious “win button”. And I haven’t seen a real back-and-forth arms race, just a bit of jockeying for position. But, still… if there were to be an across-the-board “win button” in GURPS, I would expect it to be DX and IQ. The two have so many things hanging off them, there’s a point where they stop being just good Attributes and turn in to super-powers.
As the article mentions, re-arranging the skills helps to split the DX-based up-close fighters from the Per-based snipers. Back when we were playing the Weird West game, I always felt like the gunslingers tended to be awful acrobatic. I like the idea of the high-HT, leathery, high-Per cowboy squinting at his target before taking a single, perfect shot. In Quigley Down Under, when the title character’s making one of those twelve-hundred yard shots, I’m feeling more Per than DX. Sure, fast-draw artists display a lot of DX, but, then, that’s Fast-Draw, not Guns, right?
So, I’m comfortable with taking a bit of wind from the sails of DX and IQ. If I see a run of characters with 10’s, maybe I’ll think about fiddling with prices, but I rate that as unlikely. I kinda do expect the players to maybe put a trifle more emphasis on HT, this time, but, really, going into the end of all things, I think an extra point or two of HT won’t hurt them one bit…