Peril Ratings are something I’ve invented in order to measure how dangerous an Adventure, Journey, or Dungeon is. The higher the Peril, the more perilous the adventure! But the higher the Peril Rating, the greater the rewards on offer, too… So you have to balance risk and reward.
Peril starts at 1, and rises to 7 or 8 or so, just like GURPS Status.
For adventurers built on 100-125 pts or so (such as GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Henchmen), a Peril 1 adventure ought to be an appropriate challenge. A Peril 3 adventure will be an extremely risky proposition, and a Peril 7 adventure is almost certainly suicide.
For adventurers built on 250 points (such as starting GURPS Dungeon Fantasy characters) a Peril 3 or 4 adventure ought to be tough but fair, whereas a Peril 1 adventure will be a cakewalk, and a Peril 7 adventure will be extremely dangerous.
Remember, braving greater dangers can sometimes lead to greater rewards – but only if you survive!
How Peril Works:
Adventures, Dungeons, Journeys through the wilderness, Hazards, Monsters, and so on all have a Peril rating. This Peril rating tells the system how dangerous to make the opponents, hazards, traps, etc, as well as how great the potential treasures and rewards ought to be. (For those familiar with recent development in GURPS, it’s a bit like C.E.R. in this respect, but with an expanded ambit).
Peril also works a little bit like B.A.D. from the GURPS Action line, in that it provides a default or baseline penalty that applies to most of the characters’ skill rolls. If you’re in a Peril 3 dungeon, most of your rolls outside of combat will be at -3. In-game, this means that, by default, any inscriptions that appear are sufficiently mysterious to give a -3 penalty to Hidden Lore rolls; any tracks are faint enough so as to give a -3 to Tracking rolls; the surfaces tend to be slick, slimy, or spiky enough to give a -3 to Climbing rolls – and so on. You get the idea. In a Peril 1 Dungeon, all those penalties would be just -1, whereas in a Peril 7 Dungeon… you get the idea.
Somewhat more cheesily, by matching up roughly with Status, Peril also gives you a vague indication of the level of society your characters might be dealing with in a serious way during the adventure. A Peril 1 adventure might be something like the old “Rescue the Miller’s son from the orcs!” But “Save the King from the clutches of the Lich-Lord!” is probably a Peril 6 or 7 adventure: anyone capable of kidnapping the king is bound to be very dangerous – and the potential rewards for rescuing ha kingare very great.
Lastly, and definitely cheesily, the Dungeon rules stipulate that Peril increase by one ever time you descend a level in a Dungeon. You could easily skip that rule if you don’t like it, but I like it – to me, it gives a great old-school feel!