Macropods in GURPS

The macropods include the kangaroos and wallabies. They are native to Australia and nearby islands, including Tasmania and New Guinea. This presents them with a number of challenging environmental conditions to which they have needed to adapt. The interior of Australia is exceptionally hot, dry, and of low biological productivity. The macropods in these habitats gain most of their water from the plants they eat, and have adapted to get by on low quality food which is often only patchily available in limited quantities spread across a huge landscape. They deal with the heat by resting in the shade during the day, digging away the top layer of hot soil to expose cooler soil underneath, and licking their forearms so that as their saliva evaporates it helps them stay cool. Other macropods live in richer areas characterized by broken terrain, requiring them to develop abilities to navigate rocky outcrops, while still others live in forests of towering trees, which some have evolved to climb and others have adapted to navigate the underbrush - but in hot weather they use the same forearm licking methods as their desert-adapted brethren. Most are nocturnal or crepuscular, which keeps them out of the intense daytime sunlight.

Macropods are marsupials adapted for hopping locomotion. They have very large, powerful hind legs for propulsion and thick tails that act as a counter-balance. The legs have very thick, elastic tendons that aid in their bouncing movement by essentially allowing their legs to act like springs. Some macropods are adapted for highly efficient bouncing that allows them to range over large distances with minimal expendature of energy, others are primarily adapted for covering more distance with one single bound. When moving at lower speeds, they alternately balance on their hind feet and the triangle made by their tail and fore-paws to move with what is effectively a penta-pedal gait. Most species are good swimmers, and some are accomplished climbers.

Female macropods are continuously pregnant, except on the day they give birth. They will, however, pause their pregancy as long as they have a suckling young, called a joey, in their pouch. This prevents the unborn embry from developing further until the mother is ready for it. Joeys travel with their mothers, often riding inside her pouch. Joeys are born the size of a bean, nearly unformed, and crawl to their mother's pouch and teats where they spend the next nine months before starting to venture out on their own. They are able to fully feed themselves by the age of 18 months.

All macropods are herbivores. They use a digestive system similar to bovids - after eating, the kangaroo will regurgitate parts of its meal, chew it as cud, then swallow it again to finish digesting. They often hold their food in their hands while eating it.

Male macropods often spar with each other. Beligerent bucks will push, wrestle, and strike with their forelimbs. They also kick, and kick hard. When grappling they may hold on and then lauch a strike to their opponent's abdomen, or they may bounce back on their tail as a brace to kick forward. Males will fight in earnest over females in estrous; both males and females will fight for access to limited drinking spots or choice food. They can use similar techniques against predators - the kicks of the larger macropods can disembowel even large dogs - and are known to hold predators under water to drown them if pursued into the water.

In game terms, macropods will often use the following new technique, made using the rules in GURPS Martial Arts pg. MA90-91
Kangaroo Clinch Kick
Defaults: Brawling-3
Prerequisite: Any macropod racial template and Brawling; cannot exceed prerequisite skill.
After grappling a foe while standing, you can kick at range C for thrust crushing damage (plus damage bonuses for claws, as applicable). You do not need to roll to avoid falling after a miss.
Note that since kicks are intuitive for a macropod, all kicking techniques are Average rather than Hard unless they meet one of the other criteria for a Hard technique (pg. MA93).

Macropods have good senses. Their eyesight has a wide field of view for detecting predators from all sides, although it is better adpated to triggering on motion and seeing in low light than on picking out fine details. Their hearing is good, and their radar-dish-like ears can swivel to locate the source of sounds. Their sense of smell is likewise keen.

One result of adapting to an environment of low biological productivity is the elimination of any unnecessary energy expenditures. Since the brain is one of the most energy hungry organs in the body, macropod brains tend to be small. Consequently, they lack the intelligence typically associated with mammals. Thier behavior patterns are good enough to get by, even thrive, in their harsh environment, but does not leave much room for behavioral adaptability or problem solving.

Potoroids: Potoroids look like large rats, but move about like small kangaroos. They are native to Australia, where they were historically extremely abundant but in recent times have been largely exterminated from most of their range, with many species critically endangered. It is generally suspected that this eradication occured due to competition from rabbits, predation by foxes and cats, and changes in land use patterns after the European colonization.

The primary component of the diet of potoroids are various species of truffle-like underground funguses, but most species will also eat other food-stuffs as well, such as bulbs, tubers, fruit, flowers, seeds, leaves, sedges, grass, plant resin, termites, grubs, and carrion. Much of this food is dug up using the curved claws on their forelimbs. This truffle diet was important for spreading the funguses, since the spores would be passed along in the potoroid droppings.

These macropods have prehensile tails. They use these tails mainly to carry grass, twigs, sticks, and leaves which they use to make their nests. Most species build dome shaped nests under shelter, which the use for sleeping during the day.

Hypsiprymnodontids: The one living species of hypsiprymnodontid also looks like a big rat. Some of its fossil relatives, on the other hand, could be quite large and ate meat at least some of the time. The hypsiprymnodontids have a number of primitive features that betray an intermediate step between the possums and the macropods. They have prehensile tails, and opposable big toe, and they move at high speed by bounding like a rabbit rather than hopping on their hind legs. They also have sharp teeth jutting forward from their lower jaw that can inflict a nasty cut. Like the potoroids, the extant species of hypsiprymnodontid uses its prehensile tail to carry material for building its nest.

Game Statistics

choose a species:
Species Male Female (optional)
enter weight (kg)
Captive? T?HR?
Red Kangaroo

Gray Kangaroo

Macropus ferragus (extinct)

Antilopine Kangaroo

Common Wallaroo

Agile Wallaby

Black-Striped Wallaby

Tammar Wallaby

Western Brush Wallaby

Whiptail Wallaby

Red-Necked Wallaby

Swamp Wallaby


Nail-Tail Wallaby




Tree Kangaroo

Sthenurus (extinct)

Procoptodon (extinct)



Musky Rat-Kangaroo

Propleopus (extinct)

Ekaltadeta (extinct)

The radio button entries in the table above give typical sizes of the macropod species of the selected sex. If you want a larger or smaller specimen, enter the weight in kg manually.

The Captive checkbox is for animals that have been kept in captivity all their lives, without the ability to hone their skills like their wild relatives.

Marking the T? checkbox will give you the stats in template form with all costs listed, otherwise you get a stat sheet as for a character.

Marking the HR? checkbox will print the information using all my house rules. Otherwise, the stats will be as compatable with plain vanilla GURPS as possible (although several custom advantages and disadvantages will be present, see my Traits page).

Back to Animalia