Road Testing "The Last Gasp" for GURPS

In my never-ending quest for more realism in my gaming, I'm putting some miles on Doug Cole's Last Gasp system from Pyramid #3/44.

The system, in a nutshell, replaces the standard means of recovering lost fatigue points, making it a little harder to handle more intense exhaustion, but also adds in an action point economy for during fights to keep folks from attacking with wild abandon once per second and never considering any other possibilities or growing more than a little bit tired.

Initial impressions include:
  • The AP system isn't terribly expensive for attacks and defenses (usually 1 AP each) but movement on any scale above a single step (that is, one yard of movement per one second turn) gets pretty expensive. You won't be using this system and setting up encounters at long range by any means. Even your heartiest adventurers would be pausing to catch their breath before they dove into combat after three turns of running towards the enemy.
  • Moves that involve more than one yard steps also require some math to figure out how many APs are burned. I put together a handy chart.
  • It's not remotely as onerous to keep track of as I feared. A simple tally of APs used was sufficient.It does require diligence, as you will find yourself forgetting to assess AP charges for things like active defenses. Everyone will get into the groove eventually, but it will take some time to get used to it.
  • Using the AP system without the long-term endurance rules would probably be sufficient for most games. Yes, you can bust your butt this way, and burn through your FP buying up additional APs, with little to fear, but for a cinematic game in particular, I think I'd almost insist upon this. Otherwise, you'll find your players refusing to use some maneuvers, and refusing to move at any speed, lest they find themselves unable to recover their fatigue in a reasonable timeframe after the fight.
I like how it leads to pauses in fights. I like how it inherently keeps folks from wanting to try to do end-runs around bad guys to get in their rear hex. I'm not a fan of how slowly everyone moves, but I will admit that it's more realistic when people aren't running around at half the speed of Usain Bolt every second without some negative impacts. I suspect I'll be adding this to my games from now on, if I can get enough buy in from my players.


  1. There are two movement systems in the article. One only hits you AP for acceleration. To get to full Move speed takes AP, but then you can maintain for basically nothing forever, until you want to slow down. I had a system in development that would spend AP for acceleration, but then HT rolls for 1 AP loss periodically. Not fully worked out yet.

    1. Haven't tried that variant yet. Still costly to get up to speed, but not so bad for long-range moves - like when you need to sprint to close the distance with a ranged attacker. I'll give it a look.

  2. One more note: it's really tiring to be in a huge flurry with a skilled foe. If you attack or committed attack with a Step (1-2 AP), and have to defend once or twice per turn (1-2 AP) and also elect to retreat (+1 AP if you've already stepped) you can burn 3-5 AP per second, which for skilled fighters is about a three to five second span of action before you have to back off and recover.

    Granted, many GURPS fights are resolved in that many turns. Well, for one foe, at least.

    1. Might be relevant to have your combatants meet on a larger field, then - if only to give them something more to spend those APs on.

      My initial testing was on relatively skilled (12 to 14) combatants whose APs were 12 and 10 respectively. Those skill points don't leave much room for deceptive attacks, so it turned into a slug-fest pretty quickly, and will likely lead to pauses, or burning of FP to buy additional APs


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