GURPS 101 - Dexterity is worth more than you might recall

It's a rare player that has to be convinced to take a higher DX attribute. Right on the face of it you're increasing skill levels, including defaults, on over 30 physical skills plus every combat-oriented skill. On top of all that, you add a quarter-point to your Basic Speed. All for 20 points.

But there's a whole lot else going on under the hood that should make you even more keen to maximize your DX, even if you can't justify it with just skill levels or quickness of action and base Dodge score.

This list comes from a cursory inspection of the Basic Set - the more optional rules you add, the more likely this list is to grow. You may at some point during play be called upon to make a DX roll to:

  • avoid falling when you land after a vertical or long horizontal jump.
  • clamber onto a vertical obstacle with haste (not taking 2 or more turns of care).
  • ready an item (weapon or shield included) while grappled - failure indicates the item is dropped.
  • avoid falling down when you're slammed.
  • avoid being knocked down when you parry, unarmed, against a very heavy blow.
  • ready a weapon or a shield in close combat.
  • free a weapon that has been bound by a kusari.
  • escape when you've been pinned by bolas, and to avoid falling when your legs are pinned by bolas or a lariat.
  • put yourself out, when you catch on fire.
  • avoid knockdown from a buggy gadget or gadget misfire.
  • avoid damage from an accidentally thrown weapon due to a fumble.
  • avoid tripping from a fumble on an unarmed attack.
  • halve fall damage (requires Catfall).
  • cling to a wall while falling (requires Clinging).
  • stop in thin air while falling (requires Walk on Air)
  • snatch an easily grabbed item from someone, like a hat.
  • avoid Klutz induced pratfalls, or falling down while you are Sleepwalking.
  • avoid distractions induced by Spasm or Pain spells.
  • retrieve a lanyarded weapon that has been dropped.
  • succeed at any otherwise undefined physical feat important enough to warrant a roll
In addition, you might get into a Contest that involves your DX directly in the following circumstances:
  • You try to evade your way through an enemy-occupied hex without knocking him down.
  • You want to take down a grappled opponent, or avoid being taken down yourself, if DX is the highest score amongst ST, DX and your best grappling skill.
  • You want to snatch a less-easily grabbed worn item (like a bracelet).

20 points seemed like a lot, but it was still probably worth it for most characters. Now what do you think?


  1. Your archenemy is a supervillain with a head lopping force sword...and she's really, really, mean

  2. I've always questioned the value of Perfect Balance but how many of those does it not help with? Ready a weapon while grappled, free a weapon, escape from bolas (although it should help with the avoid falling part), putting out fire, avoid throwing accidents, snatch an item, Spasms, and ready a lanyarded weapon. That's 8 of 20, so for [15] the character can have +4 DX on the other 12.


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