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Grensche

GURPS.. :D??

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Oh GURPS....

From my rusty memory of WAY BACK when it was released...Generic Universal Role Playing System was the Steve Jackson take on the generic RPG.  Generic rules, with background / world splat books to fill in the blanks.

You want to do sci fi/ fantasy / Horror....etc...same rules, different world books.

 

It was a point based buy system for attributes.  I remember my beef with the system was the attributes seemed overly simple (only 4 IIRC).

It will be crunchy...but, not near as math insane as HERO games.

 

That being said, back in the day, they put out some amazing world books...

 

If you are new...depending on your flavor of RPG (most of your list is fantasy except shadowrun, fantasy/cyberpunk), I LOVE the FFG Star Wars system.  If Star Wars does not float your boat, they are soon to be coming out with a new Generic set of rules called Genesys which will be similar to the Star Wars RPG rules they currently use.  I really love this system, it is dynamic and theatrical.

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I read that you could use the GURPS rule set to be incorporated into any kind of setting. Like if you wanted to roleplay an office work environment it could work. Normally I don't read about that kind of stuff but I guess with GURPS its possible.

I was invited to a RIFTS discord channel awhile back and there was one guy that would talk about using the GURPS system in RIFTS and it would work pretty well. It got me interested because I only know a few RPG's.

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I really appreciate the GURPS system. Here are a few reasons why.

1) Characters are built on points for stats and skills. This is cool because any character can be really whatever you want. If you dont like the linear character development chutes that systems like D&D put you down, then GURPS is awesome. You can dabble in a little bit of everything, or be super specific. The point cost increases during your higher progression in a single skill, so it rewards diversity in your character, which makes for more interesting play imo.

The HUGE improvement I see to it is Advantages/Disadvantages. This is a system by which you choose some perks (like good eyesight, good looks, quit wit, ect.) which cost some of your character development points. Disadvantages are things you can throw on your character (such as hemophobia, alcoholism, blindness) which rewards you with extra points to spend elsewhere. So if you like the idea of a blind monk, then you are rewarded for being blind with a few extra development points, but still have to deal with being blind. Again, this gives far more range for generating flavor in your character, far beyond the confining universe of DnD. You can do this for any system, but it is built into GURPS, so you don't have to haggle it out with the DM as much.

2) Event rolls are normally distributed. This is kind of a statistical nerd thing I love about GURPS. The entire system is on the D6. The skill system (so whether or not you succeed on something) is typically the sum of a 3D6 roll. In contrast, D&D is a single D20. So in D&D you have a 5% chance to roll any value on a D20. This commonly means that just due to slightly poor luck, you end up swinging and missing a lot in combat against a far inferior enemy.

In gurps however, if the enemy is inferior to you, there is a diminishing chance that you roll under a particular value (to hit for instance). Since the results of a 3d6 roll are normally distributed (a bell curve) you will most often roll around a value of 10.5, so the MODE and MEAN and MEDIAN of 100 rolls should be like 10 or 11. In contrast in D&D, the MEAN and MEDIAN are 10 or 11, but there is no real MODE (due to a uniform distribution).

To me, this better expresses your character's skill (or lack of skill) as it is harder to fail, when you should succeed, and harder to succeed when you should fail. The difference is 

3) There are no levels or experience points to my knowledge. Instead, after an adventure you are rewarded development points. You can bank them and save up to improve an attribute, or you can go up in a skill, or do other stuff. I really like this because you actually slowly get better over time, not suddenly become way more awesome because you gained that key level. It also gives you more to do in those long vast expanses between level ups.

 

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I play GURPS and like it quite a bit. At the moment I'm playing in a quick Old West/Kung Fu game, and I'm running an Occult Victorian London game as well. Here's my short take on it.

At its heart, GURPS is quite simple: Your character has Attributes and Skills rated from 1 to infinity (but more likely, from 9 to around 20), with average skill at 10 or so. To do something, you roll 3d6 against a particular skill, plus or minus modifiers for equipment, environment, etc. If you roll less than your modified skill, you succeed.

Past that, it's got a LOT more depth. How much depth is up to the play group. You can play just about anything with the two core books (Characters and Campaigns), but there are literally hundreds of supplements, covering stuff from Ancient Rome to how to build a magic system to, if you really, really like detail, the Fairbairn Combat System. There are also many, many decisions for the GM to make at the start of the game, from what skills (out of around 300!) to allow to how many points characters should be built on - and that's before you get into the usual setting and story building you find in most RPGs. That's just the cost of using a system that can do anything: you have to trim away the stuff that does what you don't want before you get down to play, or you'll just get bogged down. 

Which is why, if someone's interested in the system, I recommend picking up something that's already made a bunch of those decisions for you. There are at present three options for this:

GURPS Lite is the usual entry point recommended by SJ Games. I think it's not the best, as it came out back when 4th edition came out, but it's free and it does introduce you to the system. Note that it is not particularly "light" - it's a full system, just with a lot of the options and such left out. Grab that and you can run a good modern-day or no-magic historical adventure; say, zombie survival or a bank heist, or a piratical treasure hunt. I'd recommend something along those lines so the setting is familiar and you can focus on the system and how it plays.

If you like Discworld, there's the Discworld Roleplaying Game. This takes GURPS and lovingly adapts it to Terry Pratchett's Discworld. It's complete in and of itself, and while you can use other GURPS books with it, there's no need for it.

Finally, the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game should be showing up on store shelves fairly soon. (My kickstarter copy should arrive this week!) It's a boxed set in the vein of classic OSR D&D, which is the genre it models. If you like D&D, this is the entry point I'd suggest for GURPS.

Or you can just dive in by buying the core set and (I highly recommend) How to Be A GURPS GM.

You can also find a lot of information on the SJ Games GURPS Forum. Fair warning: A lot of the posters there have been playing GURPS for a loooong time and love to get into absurd levels of detail, which I find a little off-putting.

 

TL:DR: GURPS is good, but can be complex. Start simple.

 

Anyway, that's my short intro for GURPS. Here's some more random details:

Characters are built on a point budget from 25 (average joe) to however big you want; a good range for competent adventurers is from 150 to 250. From this point budget they buy up Attributes (which every character has), Advantages, and Skills. They can get more points by taking on Disadvantages. Skills are based on Attributes - for example, spending 2 points gets you Shortsword at the same level as your Dexterity Attribute, while spending 8 points gets you DX+2. There are also subskills (Techniques or Specialties), and Advantages and Disadvantages can be modified by various enhancements and limiters.

Combat can be extremely detailed. It takes place in 1-second turns, which can take some getting used to (for example, firing a bow takes three turns: draw arrow, nock arrow, shoot bow). It's also best played out on a hex map for anything with multiple combatants, though that's not necessary. There is a hit location chart that can be used, so called shots (e.g., to the heart) are baked in, and there are various damage types (crushing, cutting, piercing, etc.). Basically, it can be as complex as you like - or it can be as simple as an opposed combat skill check so you can get on with non-combat stuff. (Also, there's an entire supplement devoted to grappling.)

By default, GURPS plays best for larger-than-life but not mythical heroes in a setting that acts in most regards like the real world, with gravity and physics and all that. I probably wouldn't use it to run Nobilis or Sandman, and I'd think real hard before using it for, say, Wraith: the Oblivion. But it's been used to run superheroes and Watership Down, so there's a fair bit of flexibility there. It really shines for modern-day action like Die Hard or the Bourne movies.

It's also very much a simulationist system, unlike something like Fate Core which puts story before physics. There are options to make it more story-driven, but they're not the default, and they can feel a bit tacked on.

Although SJ Games now makes most of its money via Munchkin and the like, it still supports GURPS and there's still a solid player base. The aforementioned forum is probably the best place to find more information. Almost all GURPS supplements are available as PDFs on Warehouse 23. They're not available on Drivethru or other venues for... uh, reasons. I guess. SJ Games has been in business for a long time, so I assume they know what they're doing even if I'd do it differently... They also tend to be a bit more expensive than PDFs from other companies. Some supplements are available as POD, and a few are conventionally available as hard copies in your FLGS. On the other hand... GURPS books are invariably beautifully edited and indexed. 

There is a regular PDF magazine for GURPS called Pyramid. It's also available through Warehouse 23. I believe it's monthly.

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So the problem with GURPS is that game balance and world creation is very much a burden for the GM. I like GURPS, it's a fun setting to play in, but it's a huge task for the GM. 

Rifts is similar in that respect. Game balance is solely found by the GM customizing encounters for the party. The big difference is that ruleset for Rifts is terrible, but their creative setting is amazing. GURPS has a well designed ruleset and a very limited creative setting (you can do whatever you want, but they aren't providing a creative setting to play in). I played Rifts for many years and did some GMing.

Regarding RPGs to look into. I'd note that each edition plays rather differently, so even if the general setting remains the same. For example, the current Shadowrun allows wireless hacking at no penalty and even has a penalty for the slow datatransfer of wired data. By contrast, 3rd edition promoted wired hacking and penalized wireless hacking attempts. Doesn't sound like a big deal, but it really alters the way the game plays and some aspects of the setting. 

To add to your list of classic RPGs, the World of Darkness (Vampire, Werewolf, Changling, Mage, and so forth) is a classic one not on your list. This ruleset is odd for many reasons, but I'll try to sum it up. First, the rules promote role playing/acting and don't really support combat very well. The issue is that the game is set up so either your PC is very overpowered, or they are very underpowered. So either you massacre them or you are butchered. Combat does happen in the game, but players are encouraged to resolve conflicts with combat as a last resort. Second, there's a lot more (real life) women in this RPG line than in others. Nothing wrong with that, quite the contrary, but most of the other RPGs have significantly reduced female presence while World of Darkness series seems to have an even split (and often more women than men). Not entirely sure why, but it does make this game stand out, when compared to others. And the third interesting feature for this one is how common the setting is in modern successful TV shows (Lost Girl, True Blood, and so forth are just blantent rip-offs of the setting). RPG is typically set in the modern day, though there's no actual requirement and even was an expansion at one point (Dark Age) for a medieval setting. Game is often used for  LARPing (Live Action Role Playing), and does have Portland Presence, if interested (they were meeting at WOW for a while, though not as part of Ordo).

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<shrug> Calling True Blood and others a ripoff of World of Darkness is the same as calling World of Darkness a ripoff of Interview with a Vampire.  It's a genre and it has been for forty years, at least fifteen more than World of Darkness has been around.

What it boils down to is find a core dice mechanic that works for you.  Then worry about setting.  A good GM can take an appropriate dice system and build their own setting if they need to.  The dice system, however, is key to the way your setting works.

Fate is a reasonable mechanic.  It is good for storytelling, rewards cooperation and makes well rounded characters very workable.  The drawback is that there is no fate-point mechanic or open-ended rolling so some things may just be flat-out impossible for a character.  Like GURPS, there are a million settings out there for it.

The original 7th Sea (d10) system was and still is amazing.  Not only does it have an open-ended rolling system but it has one of the most balanced attribute sets I have ever seen.  The d20 7th Sea threw out all the good mechanics in the interest of appealing to d20 players which hosed the setting completely by ruining a number of aspects of the setting.  The (d10-based) reboot has some interesting ideas but in the end it fails to deliver the experience of the original setting because the attributes are no longer as balanced as they used to be and the new mechanic is not as well balanced as the original.  (The reboot does a much better job of delivering the setting than the d20 version did, however).

As has been mentioned, RIFTS was an incredible setting with an abysmal rule-set (Kevin Simbieda need both an editor and a stronger group of play-testers).

The Hero System is a good idea that refused to ever standardize on anything which is fine for a group you play with a lot but means it should be avoided at all costs at cons because all target numbers were essentially subject to GM interpretation so if you didn't know the GM you had no idea what to expect.  It's a very flexible system good for everything from pulps to heroes to sci-fi and everything in between but it can be awfully crunchy and it rewards the person who is going to go online and research different ways to build the same effect within the rules most cheaply.

Iron Crown Enterprises had incredible settings but their core mechanics were abysmal.  They had great ideas for powers and races and settings and everything from high fantasy to starcraft and hardcore sci-fi but they built a system that made Starfleet Battles look light on tables.  Every combat skill, weapon and power had a unique table of effects.  It was very easy to maim characters so even non-lethal damage meant that the character was retired...

Savage Worlds is another generic system with a number of settings published for it, some of which are pretty good.  The problem is that the core dice mechanic is broken.  It is an open ended system but the target numbers are built incorrectly which means that the balance is out of whack (e.g. if your target is an 8 you actually have better odds of success with a d6 skill than you do with a d8).  It is an open-ended mechanic which is one point in its favor.

Recently there is a host of new games which have adopted Fantasy Flight's mantra of "let's make unique dice that force people to spend more money with us".  Starwars is an example of such.  They generally do ok but they often suffer from the "some things are impossible" syndrome of not being open-ended and not having any kind of fate point system.  Some of the settings are pretty good but the dice mechanics are not terribly unique and so there's nothing outstanding about them.

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On 9/19/2017 at 7:18 AM, jesselowe said:

I play GURPS and like it quite a bit. At the moment I'm playing in a quick Old West/Kung Fu game, and I'm running an Occult Victorian London game as well. Here's my short take on it.

At its heart, GURPS is quite simple: Your character has Attributes and Skills rated from 1 to infinity (but more likely, from 9 to around 20), with average skill at 10 or so. To do something, you roll 3d6 against a particular skill, plus or minus modifiers for equipment, environment, etc. If you roll less than your modified skill, you succeed.

Past that, it's got a LOT more depth. How much depth is up to the play group. You can play just about anything with the two core books (Characters and Campaigns), but there are literally hundreds of supplements, covering stuff from Ancient Rome to how to build a magic system to, if you really, really like detail, the Fairbairn Combat System. There are also many, many decisions for the GM to make at the start of the game, from what skills (out of around 300!) to allow to how many points characters should be built on - and that's before you get into the usual setting and story building you find in most RPGs. That's just the cost of using a system that can do anything: you have to trim away the stuff that does what you don't want before you get down to play, or you'll just get bogged down. 

Which is why, if someone's interested in the system, I recommend picking up something that's already made a bunch of those decisions for you. There are at present three options for this:

GURPS Lite is the usual entry point recommended by SJ Games. I think it's not the best, as it came out back when 4th edition came out, but it's free and it does introduce you to the system. Note that it is not particularly "light" - it's a full system, just with a lot of the options and such left out. Grab that and you can run a good modern-day or no-magic historical adventure; say, zombie survival or a bank heist, or a piratical treasure hunt. I'd recommend something along those lines so the setting is familiar and you can focus on the system and how it plays.

If you like Discworld, there's the Discworld Roleplaying Game. This takes GURPS and lovingly adapts it to Terry Pratchett's Discworld. It's complete in and of itself, and while you can use other GURPS books with it, there's no need for it.

Finally, the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game should be showing up on store shelves fairly soon. (My kickstarter copy should arrive this week!) It's a boxed set in the vein of classic OSR D&D, which is the genre it models. If you like D&D, this is the entry point I'd suggest for GURPS.

Or you can just dive in by buying the core set and (I highly recommend) How to Be A GURPS GM.

You can also find a lot of information on the SJ Games GURPS Forum. Fair warning: A lot of the posters there have been playing GURPS for a loooong time and love to get into absurd levels of detail, which I find a little off-putting.

 

TL:DR: GURPS is good, but can be complex. Start simple.

 

Anyway, that's my short intro for GURPS. Here's some more random details:

Characters are built on a point budget from 25 (average joe) to however big you want; a good range for competent adventurers is from 150 to 250. From this point budget they buy up Attributes (which every character has), Advantages, and Skills. They can get more points by taking on Disadvantages. Skills are based on Attributes - for example, spending 2 points gets you Shortsword at the same level as your Dexterity Attribute, while spending 8 points gets you DX+2. There are also subskills (Techniques or Specialties), and Advantages and Disadvantages can be modified by various enhancements and limiters.

Combat can be extremely detailed. It takes place in 1-second turns, which can take some getting used to (for example, firing a bow takes three turns: draw arrow, nock arrow, shoot bow). It's also best played out on a hex map for anything with multiple combatants, though that's not necessary. There is a hit location chart that can be used, so called shots (e.g., to the heart) are baked in, and there are various damage types (crushing, cutting, piercing, etc.). Basically, it can be as complex as you like - or it can be as simple as an opposed combat skill check so you can get on with non-combat stuff. (Also, there's an entire supplement devoted to grappling.)

By default, GURPS plays best for larger-than-life but not mythical heroes in a setting that acts in most regards like the real world, with gravity and physics and all that. I probably wouldn't use it to run Nobilis or Sandman, and I'd think real hard before using it for, say, Wraith: the Oblivion. But it's been used to run superheroes and Watership Down, so there's a fair bit of flexibility there. It really shines for modern-day action like Die Hard or the Bourne movies.

It's also very much a simulationist system, unlike something like Fate Core which puts story before physics. There are options to make it more story-driven, but they're not the default, and they can feel a bit tacked on.

Although SJ Games now makes most of its money via Munchkin and the like, it still supports GURPS and there's still a solid player base. The aforementioned forum is probably the best place to find more information. Almost all GURPS supplements are available as PDFs on Warehouse 23. They're not available on Drivethru or other venues for... uh, reasons. I guess. SJ Games has been in business for a long time, so I assume they know what they're doing even if I'd do it differently... They also tend to be a bit more expensive than PDFs from other companies. Some supplements are available as POD, and a few are conventionally available as hard copies in your FLGS. On the other hand... GURPS books are invariably beautifully edited and indexed. 

There is a regular PDF magazine for GURPS called Pyramid. It's also available through Warehouse 23. I believe it's monthly.

Whoa, thanks for your insight on GURPS. I downloaded GURPS Lite just to read about it and it seems to be a bit easier to understand, maybe it's because it's the Lite version so there is not a lot of explaining or because it uses six sided dice that makes it easier to understand how the system works.

I get easily confused when creating a character for D&D and Pathfinder (basic arithmetic is the extent of my knowledge, I'm a simple man). GURPS Lite surprisingly I was able to understand it's system, which blew my mind. So now I'm even more interested in GURPS.

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