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The Chaosium's BRP Size Table and Superworld


DreadDomain

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Hey guys,

First off, I am very pleased with the new Chaosium's BRP. The system is among my favorite for about 20 years now but for the past 15 years, our group played GURPS and HERO almost exclusively specifically because of the flexibility of both systems and the "almost all rules at the same place" and "almost always the same rules for any genre" aspects of these games. This new generic universal edition of the Chaosium System is thus very welcomed.

Second, I am no PDF lover but I am glad we finally get access to old stuff like Superworld though Chaosium's website. I bought both SW and the Companion as soon as they were up as well as the BRP Core book (couldn't wait for the dead tree book to get my fix). Let me give my appreciation to Chaosium for including the covers with the PDF (some publishers exclude them because it is too much work to according to them).

Coming to my points after this long introduction, I'd like to point out that there are two things I find a bit annoying in the Comparative Sizes (BRP p.296).

First, there is a mistake on the metric weight values for SIZ 72 and onward. At this level, the weight should be 12.8-14 metric tons and not 6.4-7 metric tons (otherwise SIZ 64 and 72 have the same values, remember 1 metric tons equal 1000kg).

Second, and that is more important, I believe the table is flattening too quickly. Sure, it is not an issue for most of the games but it may be a problem when you want to play DC level super heroes. According to such a table, Superman would have about what, STR 80 000? Sure there is some work around like using the table in Superworld. For those without Superworld, the progression of this table continues doubling every +8 of SIZ so Superman would end up with STR 200 which is a lot more manageable but on the other end would give Supe a mere +12d6 of damage bonus which might be low. Just for the fun of it I have devised a table that is very close to the actual table up to SIZ 100* but after that, the values double every +32 SIZ. With such a table, the Big S would end up at about STR 500 (and +31d6 damage bonus).

This brings me to my last point. Quickly reading though Superworld, I realized how good it was for the time and I kept wondering if it would be updated/modernized for the actual edition of CBRP? Is there any plan for this? Sure there is a lot of stuff in the core book but it still comes short a bit from a full blown Superworld rule book (for instance, the way Flight works is strange. You buy it according to how much you weight not how fast you want to move?!)

Uh!? Wow, I didn't intended to talk that much. Sorry about that...

* For those interested, I could post the table. The progression is basically thus :

Between 1 and 10 : doubles every +2

Between 11 and 100 : doubles every +8

Between 101 and 1000 : doubles every +32

Etc.

To smooth the transitions a bit, I do fudge the results between 8 and 10, 80 and 100 and 800 and 1000. The end result is that between 1 and 100, the result are almost identical to the actual table (with SIZ 100 weighting at 100 metric tons) and that it still goes fast enough afterwards to make Superbricks playable.

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Superworld was an attempt to take elements of V&V and BRPize them, with Champions used as something of a model. A few of the choices may not have been perfect (I'm not sure Steve saw all the implications of basing some powers on Size when he did them), but it was basically sound, and improved enormously with the Companion.

(As an aside, Flight works both ways; the increments are based on Size, but you buy multiple increments to fly faster).

Its single biggest problem was that it only scaled up so far before it began to break down, and was very conservative in terms of building characters with much versitility (its very expensive to buy a character with multiple attack powers for example, because you have to pay full price for them all).

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Also, remember that Superman is probably the hardest superhero

to emulate. You could probably give him a more reasonable STR

attribute, but then create a power called "SuperStrength" that

allows the extra ability to lift and toss buses, stop train in their

their tracks, etc.

-V

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Superworld was an attempt to take elements of V&V and BRPize them, with Champions used as something of a model. A few of the choices may not have been perfect (I'm not sure Steve saw all the implications of basing some powers on Size when he did them), but it was basically sound, and improved enormously with the Companion.

and

Its single biggest problem was that it only scaled up so far before it began to break down, and was very conservative in terms of building characters with much versitility (its very expensive to buy a character with multiple attack powers for example, because you have to pay full price for them all).

Exactly. That is why I think a new edition to bring it to speed with the actual BRP would be great.

(As an aside, Flight works both ways; the increments are based on Size, but you buy multiple increments to fly faster).

In Superworld sure but not how it is actually written in CBRP.

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Also, remember that Superman is probably the hardest superhero to emulate.

And huge STR also one of the stumping block in many super games. This is exactly why I like to look at how Superman's STR would look up in a new super game. It gives me a starting point as to what the game can do. To be fair, I know CBRP wasn't specifically aimed at supers but hey, there are super powers in there so...

You could probably give him a more reasonable STR

attribute, but then create a power called "SuperStrength" that

allows the extra ability to lift and toss buses, stop train in their

their tracks, etc.

-V

Sure but it is a patch that i'd like to avoid. I prefer when the game is more consistent from the get go. In that case, I think CBRP is laid out on a very solid base and slightly ajusting the SIZ table would, I think, do the job.

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In Superworld sure but not how it is actually written in CBRP.

Unfortunately, Jason based the powers on the original Superworld in the WoW set, and that version had a number of less than ideal solutions to some things. That means some of those legacies are just going to carry forward.

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Unfortunately, Jason based the powers on the original Superworld in the WoW set, and that version had a number of less than ideal solutions to some things. That means some of those legacies are just going to carry forward.

I see.

My train of thoughts, I realize, is a bit confused but in a nutshell,

1) For those in the know, is there any plan to expand the superpowers in CBRP or re edit Superworld in a new edition?

2) If so, is there a list of know issues that should be adressed in this new edition (super high strength, higher versatility, expanded failings and power modifiers, etc.)?

3) For fellow gamers, have you identify such issues and how do you sort them out (for example, I thought, rightly or not, that a reworked SIZ table could sort out the super high STR issue)?

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A couple of quick answers:

The SIZ chart was based off a few of the existing BRP charts, ones which sadly didn't coincide much with each other. When in doubt, I used the ones from Call of Cthulhu and Elric/Stormbringer as the defaults, filling in the blanks with the Superworld chart.

I anticipate that any future superhero game published using BRP would address the issue with an expanded table, or address Superman-level attributes in a non-linear fashion (something like Aberrant's mega-attributes would work well).

To the best of my knowledge, there is no plan to revisit Superworld, though I can categorically say that I would be first to preorder a copy if someone writes one.

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When messing around with vehiicle design rules for BRP months ago, I worked up some fomrulas that seemed to fit the new SIZ ratings. I remeber using two differernt formulas, witha "break point" at around SIZ 160 to allow for the SIZ ratings of battleships and carriers.

Supers was a conern when working on the vehicle stuff since damage bonus increases in a linear fashion (+1d6 per 16 points of STR and SIZ) while SIZ does not. Superworld also used a slightly differernt damage bonus (1/10th the higher of STR or SIZ), so the probalem was as pronounced as it is in other BRP based RPGs.

I think that might be the reason why Jason kept the Armor values for vehicles fairly low, and gave them more hit points. Otherwise a hero who can throw a tank still can punch through it.

Once I get acopy of BRP and see the full table, in all it's glory, I might be able to work out a formula that would allow us to expand the SIZ table as desired. I7ve already been tinkering a bit in that direction for spaceship stats.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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I see.

My train of thoughts, I realize, is a bit confused but in a nutshell,

1) For those in the know, is there any plan to expand the superpowers in CBRP or re edit Superworld in a new edition?

2) If so, is there a list of know issues that should be adressed in this new edition (super high strength, higher versatility, expanded failings and power modifiers, etc.)?

3) For fellow gamers, have you identify such issues and how do you sort them out (for example, I thought, rightly or not, that a reworked SIZ table could sort out the super high STR issue)?

Jason responded to most of these myself, but I'd think you could port over some of the full Superworld material without too much work.

As to the versatility issue--there's sort of a no-win problem here. Back when Superworld was still a going concern, Steve had a prototype of a power structure to address this, but it had exactly the problem that Multipowers in Hero and Arrays in M&M do; once you have them available, _everyone_ uses them. There's no apparent real sweet spot between "this is my single attack power" and "this is my whole bucket of them" that doesn't tend to support one or the other, but not both, and is easy to administer.

Part of this is because not all powers are created equal; an energy blast and a smaller energy blast with armor piercing are more useful than either alone, but they're probably not as useful as having and energy blast and a snaring power. As such, any simple solution to this tends to encourage everyone to go for versitility.

That's why pretty much every supers game ever on the market tended to be biased either for fixed-list powers or versitile powers; because its hard not to.

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  • 2 years later...

I know someone was working on a weight-based expanded SIZ chart for mecha, and I've downloaded their efforts. But ultimately I didn't find it helpful. SIZ is one BRP attribute I struggle with when designing critters and monsters larger than humans. Ideally, BRP would have an expanded SIZ chart that took you all the way from Mouse Guard to Godzilla but my web searches haven't located such a thing. I can extrapolate a bit from the creatures in the back of the Big Gold Book and in Basic Creatures, but the "levels" among SIZ ratings don't seem consistent. So it's not as if you can pick a creature, say, with a SIZ range of an elephant and calculate up from there. As best as I can tell, the various sizes for published critters is just sorta pulled out of the air.

So how do you determine (in SIZ terms) how big Clifford the Big Red Dog is? Or King Kong? Or a brontosaurus? Or any of the Lovecraftian entities in Call of Cthulhu? In that respect,HERO System is much easier: I'd simply calculate the levels of Growth needed to achieve a certain height and adjust the critter's stats accordingly. BRP doesn't seem to have a similar set of benchmarks to go by.

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So how do you determine (in SIZ terms) how big Clifford the Big Red Dog is? Or King Kong? Or a brontosaurus?

I can only answer the last of those questions. I'm working on a BRP version of FLESH, the classic cowboys-versus-dinosaurs 2000AD comic strip, which obviously involves statting lots of dinosaurs, some of them very big. Stats for dinosaurs have been published in various BRP/RQ resources, but as far as I can see they are often contradictory and wildly inaccurate. So I consult as many reputable reference works as possible to determine the mass/weight of different genera of dinosaurs, and work backwards on the SIZ table. So, an adult brontosaurus (or, if I'm being pernickety, Apatosaurus) probably weighed somewhere between 24 and 34 metric tonnes. According to Atgxtg's corrected and expanded SIZ table (a very useful resource), that gives us a SIZ range of 79-83.

No question, though, SIZ is a tricky one, especially when converting from other games or statting creatures from films, novels, etc. How much does King Kong weigh? I dunno. What about balrogs, erbs, tauntauns, toruks? Again, I dunno. A bit (or a lot) of educated guesswork is involved.

Edited by ClawCarver
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If it's roughly humanoid (including Godzilla and T-Rex style dinosaurs) then use the Giant stats of 3D6+6 SIZ per 2m as a rough guideline. If you think they should be a bit chunkier then turn some of the D6s to 6s, if they should be weedier then change some of the 6s to D6s.

For non-humanoid creatures, find a creature that is roughly similar and use this as a basis.

Once you have statted a few of these then you will be able to use those as reference points.

Unfortunately there's nothing scientific about generating stats and any attempts I've seen that tries to use equations always needs tweaking.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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Thanks, ClawCarver, for the reply. Again, though, you're basing your dinosaur SIZ estimates on the supposed weight of the animal rather than on how tall or how long it is (which is how I conceive of size). For instance, we've got published stats for a gorilla. But suppose we didn't. An adult male gorilla is no taller than a human basketball center, but it weighs 500 pounds compared to the human's 200 or so. If I go by the character height in BRP I'd come up with one SIZ rating; if I use a weight-based chart it'd be something different.

Knowing this, we can kind of fake our way in figuring King Kong's SIZ (since you've doubtless statted up a Tyranosaurus, you have to have Kong around to wrestle with it). For ease of conversion, I'll stat the 60-foot-tall Kong version from King Kong Escapes. A 6-foot-tall human might weigh 200 pounds (although I'm much shorter than that and weigh the same!). So extrapolating up, when 6-foot Giant Man grows from 6 feet to 60, his weight increases from 200 pounds to 2,000 - or one American short ton. Kong, then, would be 2 or 3 short tons. Which, based on Atgxtg's chart would make him SIZ 41? 42? On the other hand, the original 1933 Kong was about 20 feet tall (in the movie he actually varied from 20 to 40), about three times larger than a regular gorilla. So we'd guestimate his weight at 1,500 pounds ... SIZ 38 or 39 on the (widely spaced) chart?

As you say, "I dunno." BRP may be easy and intuitive for players, but for the GM? Hmmm....

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Er.. what is your poblem? Just figure out how much it should weigh in metric or imperial tons, then consult the weight-to-SIZ chart in the book, or atgxtg's revised version. Please note that unless you wish to use the Strike Rank option (which does not represent creatures bigger than SIZ 20, though), it is only mass that you have to figure out, not height.

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The problem is I'm a BRP newbie rather than a RuneQuest veteran. ;) I'm still trying to dope all this stuff out. As ClawCarver pointed out, many fantasy or science fiction critters don't have easy real-life animal parallels to draw upon, especially when you reach Toho Pictures dimensions. If I'm trying to stat up King Kong or The 50-Foot Woman I can multiply the known average weight of real creatures. If I'm designing my own beasties from scratch, things get trickier. And as soltakiss and ClawCarver said, figuring SIZ in those instances is often a matter of guesswork.

I'd try to avoid Strike Ranks. Simpler is better for me.

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Thanks, ClawCarver, for the reply. Again, though, you're basing your dinosaur SIZ estimates on the supposed weight of the animal rather than on how tall or how long it is (which is how I conceive of size).

True. I treat SIZ as mass. This means that a Pteranodon, despite being about as "tall" as a man and having a wingspan of over 6m (20ft), has a SIZ of 3-6, based on an estimated mass of between 16 and 37 kilos. Using height/length just seems too complicated.

A 6-foot-tall human might weigh 200 pounds (although I'm much shorter than that and weigh the same!). So extrapolating up, when 6-foot Giant Man grows from 6 feet to 60, his weight increases from 200 pounds to 2,000 - or one American short ton.

Ah, but no. Mass/weight increases as the cube of height/length. So a tenfold height increase would mean a thousandfold weight increase, taking our 200-pound man to 200,000lbs, i.e. 100 short tons, or SIZ 100!

Kong, then, would be 2 or 3 short tons. Which, based on Atgxtg's chart would make him SIZ 41? 42?

Nope. By the same calculation, our 60-foot Kong would be 500,000lbs, i.e. 250 short tons, or SIZ 141.

On the other hand, the original 1933 Kong was about 20 feet tall (in the movie he actually varied from 20 to 40), about three times larger than a regular gorilla. So we'd guestimate his weight at 1,500 pounds ... SIZ 38 or 39 on the (widely spaced) chart?

Three times the height equals 3x3x3 (27) times the weight. Multiplying 500lbs by 27 gives us 13,500lbs, which is 6.75 short tons, or SIZ 63. I'd make him a little larger (since 20ft is more than three times 6ft), but this feels right to me, and puts him on a par with a large 7-tonne Tyrannosaurus (SIZ 64 or thereabouts).

I hope this all helps. I agree that it's fiddly. I also agree with Soltakss that there's nothing too scientific about it (although, as I've just shown, you need to throw some maths into the mix) and you just have to tweak things until it feels right for you.

Talking of tweaking, somehow I screwed up the link to Atgxtg's table. I think I've corrected it now.

Cheers!

Alan

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Using height/length just seems too complicated.

And it tends to produce ridiculous results, just think of the SIZ a giant sea snake would have if

the SIZ were based on length ...

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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After re-watching King Kong a couple more times, I'd estimate his height at 36 feet (6 times as tall as a regular gorilla). Using your cube formula (6x6x6=216 times the weight), that'd make Kong weigh 108,000 pounds, or 54 tons. Which, based on the BRP SIZ chart on Page 296, would make him SIZ 86 or 87. That may explain why he was able to defeat that Tyranosaurus despite appearing to be physically smaller. ;) If we shrink him down to 30 feet tall, his weight would be 62,500 pounds, or 31.25 tons, SIZ 80, still "bigger" than Old Snappy Jaws.

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And it tends to produce ridiculous results, just think of the SIZ a giant sea snake would have if

the SIZ were based on length ...

True, but it'd help to know the average weight of a 6- or 10-foot section of the beast so you could figure out it's SIZ in game terms. Sliced sea serpent, anyone? :)

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True, but it'd help to know the average weight of a 6- or 10-foot section of the beast so you could figure out it's SIZ in game terms. Sliced sea serpent, anyone? :)

I know you're semi-joking, but I decided to have a go anyway. :)

We need to know the physical stats for a representative sea snake. A bit of Internet research tells me that the average length of Pelamis platurus (the yellow-bellied* sea snake) is 58.8cm and its average weight is 78.5g.

So, let's say we want to create a sea serpent that's 100m (about 330 feet) long. We're multiplying the creature's length by 100m divided by 0.588m, which is approximately 170. Therefore we need to multiply its weight by 170x170x170, or 4,913,000!

OK. 4,913,000 times 78.5g (0.0785kg) is 385670.5kg, or approximately 386 metric tonnes. So our sea beast is SIZ 164.

Moreover, a 10-metre "slice" weighs, on average, 38.6 tonnes. However, we can't use this to extrapolate larger or smaller serpents, because they will also most likely be thicker or thinner respectively.

By the way, I'm acutely aware that this thread has succumbed to what I would call Topic Drift, and none of the foregoing has anything to do with Superworld. Unless, of course, your superheroes are going to be fighting giant gorillas and sea serpents ... which is at least theoretically possible.

*The common name describes the animal's coloration, not its cowardly disposition. ;)

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By the way, I'm acutely aware that this thread has succumbed to what I would call Topic Drift, and none of the foregoing has anything to do with Superworld. Unless, of course, your superheroes are going to be fighting giant gorillas and sea serpents ... which is at least theoretically possible.

Thanks for your input, by the way. It helps me to better understand how the system works. And it's good to have a non-humanoid example to work with. I was going to ask you to calculate the SIZ of Clifford the Big Red Dog (literally as big as a house), so you got off easy with the sea snake. :)

Well, I chose to ressurect this thread rather than create a new one because it seemed to me the gist of the OP was how to correctly calculate SIZ - whatever sort of campaign you're in. After all, once you've figured out how big King Kong or your sea serpent are in game terms, you still need to calculate their increased STR, CON and Move rates just as you would for an iconic super-strong, super-dense superhero. Kong isn't faster than a speeding bullet but his strength and toughness would be superhuman and his stride would be much greater than that of a smaller creature, affecting his rate of travel.

And if you're playing in any sort of superhero campaign, particularly a Gold or Silver Age one, I can guarantee you that you will eventually battle (or be transformed into) a giant ape or sea serpent. Superman had to do it. The Blue Beetle had to do it. What makes you think your character is going to be immune? ;D

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Thanks for your input, by the way. It helps me to better understand how the system works.

Glad to be of service! :)

And it's good to have a non-humanoid example to work with. I was going to ask you to calculate the SIZ of Clifford the Big Red Dog (literally as big as a house), so you got off easy with the sea snake. :)

I confess to being utterly ignorant of the existence of Clifford the Big Red Dog until now. Maybe he's just not so well known in the UK, although Wikipedia assures me that the TV versions have been broadcast here. As far as I can see (thank you, YouTube!), Clifford's size varies considerably from scene to scene, so he'd be a tricky one to stat.

Well, I chose to ressurect this thread rather than create a new one because it seemed to me the gist of the OP was how to correctly calculate SIZ - whatever sort of campaign you're in. After all, once you've figured out how big King Kong or your sea serpent are in game terms, you still need to calculate their increased STR, CON and Move rates just as you would for an iconic super-strong, super-dense superhero. Kong isn't faster than a speeding bullet but his strength and toughness would be superhuman and his stride would be much greater than that of a smaller creature, affecting his rate of travel.

All true. In BRP terms, I think Kong beats the Tyrannosaurus in the 1933 film (I just watched

again) despite its greater SIZ because he has higher DEX, tremendous STR and CON, he gets two attacks per round, and he has a very good Grapple skill.
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So, based on your viewing of the clip, did you estimate his height as 20, 24, 30 or 36 feet? Since it affects our SIZ calculations and all. :)

The battle between Kong and the Tyrannosaur was the inspiration for the whole movie. According to the extras on my Kong DVD, the producers made exotic nature films much like the fictional Carl Denham. Their initial concept was to stage a fight between a gorilla and a Komodo dragon (how they were going to explain creatures from different hemispheres meeting each other, I don't know). Acquiring real apes or reptiles proved impossible, so they contacted animator Willis O'Brien. O'Brien, of course, realized that with animation you weren't limited to a regular gorilla or conventional (if exotic) reptiles and he literally expanded the idea.

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