Using GURPS RPG rules

Sadurian

LE
Book Reviewer
I have been a fan of Steve Jackson Games' GURPS *Generic Universal Roleplaying System) for many years and have built up several different gaming campaigns using the system.

My larger campaign setting is the Sadurian gameworld, a sort of non-gunpowder mid-Tudor setting, which scratches the usual pseudo-medieval fantasy itch. I am currently creating a 1920s Call of Cthulhu campaign using existing Chaosium scenarios but with rules adapted and converted to GURPS. Both can be found on the website if you are interested:
Main Saduria homepage
Call of Cthulhu conversion

Has anyone else used the GURPS system and what do those who have used it think of it? It tends to have a reputation for being very numbers-heavy, but I'd argue that it is less complex than many other, more mainstream, games (especially the likes of Pathfinder). Another criticism is the sheer number of options available to a character, but again, compared with all the options in D&D and Pathfinder supplements I don't think the number of options in GURPS is excessive. Many new players also overlook the modular nature of the game, where options only apply to certain campaigns and not others. You can't build a 'real world' 1920s US character who has extra arms and wings, for example, no matter that those options exist in the basic rules.
 
Never used it, the nearest I know of it Rolemaster which was notorious for having rules for everything

The thought of thing where you have a Ninja and the roll a 100 on a d100 and get a critical hit on a frost giant to kill it one hit only to break your own wrists in the process

Ie. Where you get reality and fantasy colliding in a rules based system
 

Sadurian

LE
Book Reviewer
Yes, the Rolemaster system was very chart-heavy. In fairness, GMs (especially inexperienced ones) often overused the rolls. I recall one discussion I was having with some dyed-in-the-wool entrenched D&D fanboys about the relative merits of different systems. The argument was put forward that Rolemaster made you roll to tie your shoelaces because there was a 'Movement and Manoeuvre' skill. This despite the rules clearly making the point that rolls should only be made in extremis and not for mundane tasks.

This is probably at the heart of many issues with rules systems, it is not the rules themselves that are at fault but the players/GM not fully grasping how they should be used.

Some of the Rolemaster results were funny, though. Tripping over imaginary turtles and breaking your neck was funny to read in the chart, but not so funny should you end up with a dead character because you critically failed a roll.
 
Played it at college many years ago. Seemed like a lightweight ripoff version of the Hero Games generic system which was complicated enough to make your eyes bleed from the other side of the room.
 

Sadurian

LE
Book Reviewer
Well GURPS acknowledges that the Hero System was one of its inspirations and there are certainly similarities in the two systems. However, GURPS does not have the same complication that Hero did.

I recall using Hero system a lot, for everything from Superheroes (which it was designed for) through to low fantasy and modern espionage games. The biggest spanners in the flow of the game were 'power pools' and combat, the latter of which cropped up a lot, of course.

Power pools meant that you could employ any one of a large number of powers so long as you fit the points into the pool's overall maximum limit. Cue the player with his calculator (and let's be honest, it was 'his' and not 'hers' at that time), the rulebook and sheets of paper trying to calculate the optimum power for his next action, all the while holding up the action.

The combat situation happened much more frequently. Combat was slow thanks to the Speed track system, but it was worse because each player tried to calculate the best manoeuvre for the new situation, adding their attack and defence values accordingly, for every.single.one of their attacks. They couldn't do so in advance because the tactical situation changed so quickly. A single combat often took several hours to resolve, and this was with players who had played the system almost exclusively for years.

GURPS, I'm happy to say, doesn't have that problem. It is slower with new players, of course, but is pretty fast and smooth when you get the hang of it.
 

Trans-sane

LE
Book Reviewer
Ah GURPS. Only taken a brief glance at it but.seemed to have an awful lot of reference tables in non-character generation pages. None of my group plays it so have no first hand knowledge but it looked clunky.

For me, RPG design from a rules perspective is a balance of three competing aims:-

1/ simplicity and ease of use for GM design purposes and gameplay
2/ player options and character diversity.
3/ minimal number of dice rolls needed to determine a result.

The best systems I've played (and GMed one) are savage worlds and the fantasy flight star wars. D&D 3.5 was from a mechanical point of view exerable. The Warhammer 40k systems of recent years were ok, let down by two elements- far too many "talents" that slowed game play while you looked them up and terribly complicated psychic/magic systems.

I'm currently making the initial steps in building my own setting. I just haven't decided on a rules systems to use...
 

Sadurian

LE
Book Reviewer
I had a first character creation session with new players last weekend.

The game is a 'Call of Cthulhu' style campaign set in the 1920s/30s using the GURPS ruleset., I have called it GURPS: Jazz Age Mythos. There are five players, most relatively new to RPGs and none familiar with GURPS. Only one has played the Chaosium Call of Cthulhu, but they all 'get' the genre well enough. Each player is creating two or three characters from the outset because I prefer the players to have a 'stable' of characters in a game where long-term hospitalisation or institutionalisation is not uncommon. It also allows players to pick and choose who to take on a particular adventure - the Philosophy Professor or Jazz Musician might be less useful than the Explorer or Mercenary when trekking through the South American jungle.

We drafted character ideas and I suggested an initial list of skills, Advantages and Disadvantages which have been noted down. I reckon it will take another couple of 4-hour sessions to complete the characters and integrate them with each other and the setting. My goal is for the players to feel that their characters are part of the setting rather than simply adventuring in it.

The learning curve is steep, but they all say the they are starting to understand and, crucially, they are still excited by the prospect of playing.
 

Latest Threads

Top