In GURPS Campaigns (p381) it states that a skill of 15+ means that a roll of 5 counts as a critical, and 16+ means that a 6 counts as a critical. Does this threshold continue to rise?

Ex: Does Shortsword skill 17+ mean that a roll of 7 is a critical?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Gurps 4th Basic Set - Campaigns p.347 (just for reference) \$\endgroup\$
    – Yolgie
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 8:42

3 Answers 3


No. The threshold for critical successes (and by extension, critical hits) is capped at 6. This keeps things from getting ridiculous with very high skills, which are common in some GURPS genres such as Supers and epic fantasy.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Some people have house rules providing for extended criticals, but they tend to be things like "Critical on a 7 if effective skill is 20, critical on an 8 at effective skill 25, critical on a 8 at effective skill 30". Having the critical threshold rise at 1:1 with effective skill makes it so cost-effective to have skill in the region of 24 that the game stops being any fun. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 17:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ By the way, in GURPS Supers optional rules the cap is 10 for skill 30+. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lucas
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 16:38

By the GURPS rules-as-written (often abbreviated RAW) the chance of criticals does not increase for effective skill greater than 16.

For melee attacks, this generally makes it more effective to use high skill in a Deceptive Attack (Basic Set, p359-370) to reduce the chance of the opponent defending. The inability for the opponent to defend is the primary benefit of a critical hit. Reducing their chance to defend tends to be more valuable than increasing the odds of a critical, because of the way the bell curve of GURPS' 3d6 mechanic works.

For ranged attacks, the primary benefit of very high skill is reducing range penalties and thus being able to hit at longer range. You can also use Prediction Shot (Gun-Fu, p11) to do a ranged Deceptive Attack, but it's kind of cinematic and usually not very useful.

However, for non-combat skills, people sometimes want improved criticals and there are various house-rules, though none widely adopted.

I recently happened on a progression that's easy to remember and demanding enough not to be unbalanced:

  • 6 is a critical at skill 16, by RAW.
  • 7 is a critical at skill 27, by this house-rule
  • 8 is a critical at skill 38, ditto.
  • 9 is a critical at skill 49, likewise.

That seemed far enough: it's costing about 44 character points for each critical upgrade, and the highest skill I've imagined for anyone in my semi-epic Infinite Worlds + Cabal campaign is 40.

I find this easier to remember than +5 skill levels for each step of improvement because you're moving into a new decade range for each improvement. It's also expensive enough that most people won't bother.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there a (mathematical or otherwise) reason this range being your preferred house rule? (That is, it seems like it'd be easier to use and remember your multiples-of-five house rule from back in July.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 16:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is hopefully better. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 17:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Much! And @HeyICanChan may appreciate the added rationale for why this house rule over any other. For myself, the rationale made me take a second look, and see that it's pretty decent and probably not game-breaking. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 18:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I really enjoyed the deceptive attack recommendation part of this. \$\endgroup\$
    – user1637
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 19:09

There is a sidebar in the 3ed.Compendium I with an optional rule for extending critical successes (don't have it at hand) that capped critical hits at 10- at something like skill 35. I have tried re-working this into a 4ed. Enhancement for Advantages like Weapon Master or Talents. I think it would work well for Hawkeye/Deadshot-type "super-normal" characters in a Supers game.


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