Friday, September 28, 2012

What up with GURPS?

As much of a fan of GURPS as I am, I do realize GURPS has a certain... well... reputation for complexity. And it is undeserved. That not to say that GURPS doesn't have a hurdle to overcome but complexity doesn't have to be one of them.

The heart of GURPS is found in the free GURPS Lite PDF. It 32 pages and every rule in there is used in a normal GURPS Campaign.  The devil for GURPS is in the details, literally. GURPS has a LOT of details. Coupled with that is the fact the GURPS core rulebook are a toolkit. Note if you want to get a taste of the Magic System look at the GURPS Lite 3rd Edition. And if you don't read English well, take your pick of the language of your choice.

To use GURPS you need to choose which options you are going to use to run your campaign. Most of the options are not particularly complex but SJ Games takes the Generic in GURPS very seriously and GURPS 4th edition is a system that literally can handle any type of genre. However the toolkit aspect doesn't appeal to everybody and therein is why GURPS has the reputation it does.

What SJ Games has done in recent years to mitigate this is through their e23 store offer PDFs that IMPLEMENT GURPS for various popular genres. The Dungeon Fantasy series implements GURPS for dungeon crawling. Monster Hunters allows you to play Buffy/Supernatural/Angel/Fringe style campaigns.There is a bunch of them.

If you want to learn to run a GURPS fantasy campaign having played D&D or another fantasy RPG I recommend the following

GURPS Lite 4th edition

The two GURPS Core Book

GURPS Magic 4th edition

Dungeon Fantasy 1,2, and 3.

If the toolkit nature of GURPS doesn't bother you then you can go

GURPS Lite 4th edition

The two GURPS Core Book

GURPS Magic 4th edition

GURPS Fantasy 4th edition

Beyond this you can pick up GURPS Banestorm not so much for its Yrth setting but for all the templates, creature, and character info.

The foremention Dungeon Fantasy Series

GURPS Thaumatology gives you more variant for Magic, some unique some building on GURPS Magic.

If you like detailed combat, then look no further than GURPS Martial Arts.

GURPS Low Tech has the low down on all the mundane stuff of the medieval world. The follow-on PDFs gets  into social and cultural details.

Not even you don't want to use GURPS, Low Tech is a great summary of pre-industrial technology.

Anyway I hope some of you get to try GURPS


faoladh said...

For a long time, GURPS was my go-to system for everything. Lately, though, the detailed character creation is what is tripping me up. If someone could figure out a way to make random characters in five minutes using GURPS (I imagine that a system of templates with die-roll tables modifying them would work), I might even go back to it as a major system. For now, though, S&W:WB is perfect.

mike said...

I like GURPS, but I have to acknowledge the complaint that starting up a game requires either at least one person to make a multiple-book investment or a lot of GM authorship.

The sheer number of lighter rules sets and/or games operating within established settings makes it a though sell for new players.

Kent Horsman said...

I've just returned to playing GURPS, and introduced the system to a new group. I find the Character Assistant program really helpful in punching up some quick characters or NPCs.

Hats off to DF for funneling such a huge system into a smaller, specific set of parameters.

I really like the rules in DF2 Dungeons that gets you from town to dungeon with little fuss or muss.

And what do the new players think? Mixed reviews TBH. What drew me to GURPS originally takes us back to Man to Man and the "realism" of the combat system. For my players, it seems too crunchy.

We'll see what DF brings to the playing style though. I do applaud the release of these more fine-tuned rulebooks within the GURPS family.

Justin Aquino said...

"If someone could figure out a way to make random characters in five minutes using GURPS (I imagine that a system of templates with die-roll tables modifying them would work), I might even go back to it as a major system"
I bet one can, the problem is that its violates copyright to make it and all the writers are busy... so busy that if you offer to make it, you would never hear from them (my experience submitting work to SJgames). I made a GURPS lite for Low Tech, so far no one is asking me to unshare the pdf.

Sean said...

I'm trying to get into GURPS again, but it's really just too much. GURPS character assistant makes creating a character a lot easier, but learning how to actually play is still a problem. Sure, you can ignore a lot of the rules, but how to sort out which rules to cut? GURPS lite is too small to be any help.

I'd like a book like Hero Basic - a 100-200 page condensation of the rules that's complete enough to play, possibly without ever using the complete rules. Then, if we feel that we need a more realistic representation of hydrostatic shock (or whatever) we can pull those rules from the main books.

Kent Horsman said...

Sean, have you looked at the DF series? I'm really enjoying their content and keeping things a little more focused, especially for dungeon delving.

GURPS is a huge piece to swallow, no doubt.

Sean said...

I've skimmed the first one, Kent. It does look as though it will help a lot with character generation (although I'm not fond of the whole 'Oh-ho, this is D&D, but played ironically - it's all about loot & XP' attitude.) But it's the combat rules, etc. that boggle me. It doesn't help that we're pretty much wed to tactical combat on a map around here, and that puts us into the advanced rules.

However, all is not bleak. I've signed up to play an adventure with a GM who actually knows what he's doing. Still the best way to learn.

Gary Watson said...

Allot of commenters to this post have mentioned that they want to gen characters in 5 minutes with a program or the like.

There are a lot of options in gurps proper, but lite goes a long way to distill it down.

I can gen almost any character in my head in about 5 minutes. Here's the rough procedure.

Think of who you want your character to be. Hold that image firmly in your mind throughout the process.

Spend between 50 and 80 percent of your available points on the four attributes that most closely match your character concept. If the character in question has fantastic abilities spend between 40 and 0 percent of your points on advantages that give your character the fantastic stuff, (invent them if you want, most cost between 5 and 25 depending on how powerful they are). Spend the rest, usually between 10 and 20 percent of your point total on skills that allow your character to specialize. You can drop all off them on one or two skills if you want to be a one trick pony, or spread them out if you prefer a more rounded character. I'm a fan of making these up too where it makes sense although I'm probably alone in this.

That s it

St and health cost 10
Dx and iq cost 20
Skills cost using the progression 1,2,4,8,12,16,... and start at either att,att-1,att-2 or att-3 depending on how difficult they are to learn
Advantages you have to let the Gm price.

Characters are usually between 100 and 200 points. 100 being on the mundane side and 200 being more on the heroic.

To be fair I had to internalize allot of content to come to this simplification.