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The Enemy disadvantage means there's a person or group of people out to get you. One of the modifiers for this disadvantage is:

Unknown: You know you have an Enemy, but you have no idea who it is. Tell the GM the power level of your Enemy. He will create the Enemy in secret and give you no details whatsoever. The advantage of surprise increases your Enemy's effective power level, and hence its disadvantage value. -5 points

It seems pretty clear that the GM will determine the enemy's intent and frequency.

My question is, do the multipliers for intent & frequency affect the points I get from this disadvantage? My GM argues that it will take him a while to come up with the enemy, so I just treat it as a 1x multiplier for both intent & frequency, and he'll come up with intent & frequency later without applying them to the points I get. He points to the "give you no details whatsoever" part of the description.

I argue that character creation can wait a bit, and depending on the enemy I might end up deserving considerably more or less points than I would get for assuming a cumulative 1x multiplier. Even knowing the multiplier won't really tell me anything about the enemy: a low multiplier could represent an enemy with no real harmful intent but a very high appearance frequency, or it could represent a deadly foe who only shows up rarely.

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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I've looked through the relevant rules and the official GURPS forums, and I can't find anything that's clear in either direction on this ruling. Here's what I would suggest: Take the standard x1 modifier for intent and frequency, as your GM suggests, and ask that if the enemy ends up being worth more, that your GM gives you advantages in play to make up for it, kind of like how Secret Advantage works. That way, your GM is happy because you don't know the exact frequency or intent of the enemy, and you're happy because you're getting the points that you expect. This isn't perfect, but I feel like it's the closest solution that might be palatable to both you and your GM.

Personally, I'd just let you pick the intent and frequency yourself, and build the enemy on that. It seems from the wording of the Unknown modifier that the player is supposed to say how many points the enemy is worth, and the GM builds the specifics. While it only out-and-out says that the player picks the enemy's power, I feel like it's implied that the player should know how many points their disadvantage is worth. Then again, I'm not your GM.

I'd also suggest posting this question on the official GURPS forums, as the people there are very good at answering weird GURPS edge cases like this. The editors of GURPS occasionally post on especially ambiguous things, as well.

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Found a good solution from the GURPS forums (thanks trooper6!). I'm accepting DuckTapeal's answer since he pointed me there.

B120, Secret Disadvantages:

You may give your character a disadvantage unknown to both him and to you. Choose a point value and tell the GM. The GM will select a disadvantage and give you its value plus an additional -5 points (e.g., Unluckiness, normally worth -10 points, gives -15 points as a secret disadvantage)... but he will not give you any hints as to what it is!

This suggests that the Unknown modifier exists to 1) allow you specify that the secret disadvantage is an Enemy rather than being anything the DM picks, and 2) explain how multipliers affect the additional -5 points from Unknown/Secret.

Thus, you tell the GM the total point value you want your enemy to be worth, and the GM adjusts power, intent, & frequency to build a foe of that point value (minus the additional 5 for it being secret).

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You set the point value. The GM subtracts 5, and writes the enemy to fit that, adjusting as normal the frequency and power level. If you pick an unknown 5 point enemy, its going to be less powerful and infrequent individual, or vastly less powerful and uncommon group. If you pick a 20 point enemy, it's a more common and/or more powerful enemy, or even a competent group.

The GM, as always in GURPS, can reject any disad.

Secret Advantage and Secret Disadvantage work the same - pick the points, get the GM to approve it, and then the GM can use those points within the agreed limits.

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If the rules say there is a rating for intent and frequency on some sort of scale and you get more points for a higher rating in each, then you get the number of points the rules say you do.

If the GM brings in some villain latter who's intent or frequency seem to be higher than what you got points for it's one of the following:

A: Your subjective evaluation of intent and frequency doesn't match the GM's intent and frequency, nor does his subjective evaluation match yours. This is a difficult situation as no one is wrong or right, even though one of you isn't getting what you want.

B: The GM is adding a villain with higher intent and frequency than you got points for, and the GM knows it. So essentially the GM is ignoring the rules. On the other hand, the rules generally allow the GM to bring in any old enemy he wants anyway - so in a way the GM could have brought in the same enemy, but atleast this way you got some points out of it.

Also, holding back on char gen is just wrangling for points without actually playing. Unless you find collecting point to be really, really fun (tip, it isn't - or atleast roleplay isn't solely about collecting big numbers), holding back on character creation is simply avoiding play with the ostensible goal of gaining more points for play. It's self contradicting.

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I think you're missing the point. The GM is arguing that because I'm not supposed to know anything about the enemy, I shouldn't know the total points from intent & frequency, as that would help me guess what they are, and should just go by middle-of-the-road point values rather than the values associated with the enemy's actual intent & frequency. –  Oblivious Sage Aug 9 '12 at 3:46
So it's B: He's ignoring the rules. You're supposed to know how many points you'll get. I mean, it's contradictory to begin with - you know nothing about the enemy? No, you do - you know you have an enemy. That's already knowing something. The cats already part way out of the bag. So how does B: miss the point as an answer? –  Callan S. Aug 9 '12 at 7:59
@CallanS. The question is looking for a rules clarification on a very specific point, not an analysis of social contract issues. This post doesn't even address how to interpret the rule, let alone provide an answer that clarifies it, hence it's aim is off-target. You wrote in part: "If the rules say… then you get the number of points the rules say you do." This is exactly the problem you missed answering—it's unclear what the rules say, and this post provides no advice for resolving that. Not every question here is about dysfunctional social contracts. Bear that in mind going forward. –  SevenSidedDie Aug 9 '12 at 16:22
Your asking for some sort of means of interpretation that somehow, by sheer dint of interpretive goodness, gets authority above the GM's? Okay, I think your off target/the idea of some special interpretation somehow resolving this is off target. Not gunna happen. "it's unclear what the rules say, and this post provides no advice for resolving that." There is no way to resolve it - it's simply a matter of who has authority over whom. Or you can treat your own certainty that there's definately some interpretive escape hatch as reason to treat my post as off topic. Don't be so sure. –  Callan S. Aug 12 '12 at 2:32
@CallanS.: It's not about authority. If the GM had said, "We're doing it this way, period," I wouldn't have asked the question. What happened was the GM & I looked at the rules, agreed they were ambiguous, and proposed different interpretations. We then agreed to investigate whether there was errata or a rule elsewhere (note my answer) that would clarify the matter, or if people more familiar with the system (I've never played GURPS, GM has played it only a couple times) had encountered this ambiguity and found a good solution (they had). –  Oblivious Sage Aug 13 '12 at 5:37
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