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Farcaster
12-13-2006, 03:52 PM
Has anyone here tried running a fantasy oriented game with GURPS? I'm curious how well the system worked out. Why you liked it, why you didn't? I've been playing Dungeons & Dragons so long, when I think about a fantasy game, the only system I have ever been comfortable with is what is now known as d20. For whatever reason, it just seems right. But, then again, I've only ever really looked at the Basic Rule Set and Powers books for GURPS.

fmitchell
12-13-2006, 04:50 PM
About 15 years ago I ran a 3rd edition GURPS Fantasy game, and it worked OK.

I'm only a third of the way through GURPS Fantasy 4e, but I'm really impressed. It analyzes the fantasy genre to set the mood of a campaign, gives advice for world-building (including historical reference points), and details common monsters, professions, and "races".

GURPS Fantasy should work as well as any other GURPS game, or fantasy game for that matter. While "system matters", really it's the quality of the GM (and I kinda sucked). Given that, though, I can't resist giving some advice for prospective GURPS GMs:


Remember GURPS isn't D&D; characters' hit points don't change too dramatically over time, and the magic system is geared more toward small-scale, tactical effects. If anything, RuneQuest is more similar to GURPS Fantasy than D&D.

Since GURPS allows you to construct a wide range of character types, don't feel limited to the standard Elves, Dwarves, etc. In my campaign, the primary "races" were Humans, Goblin Lords (think David Bowie in Labyrinth), Goblin Serfs (more like orcs), and Eldren (Tolkienish elves without the kind disposition). I think I threw Reptilemen in there too, just because I liked them.

Similarly, if you want to make magic rare or difficult, you can throw over the skill-based magic system entirely and use Advantages. Or you could borrow a magic system from elsewhere and fit it into GURPS somehow; if I ever run GURPS again I might borrow Occultism from the FUDGE supplement A Magical Medley. If you like it, you could also scavenge the "spirit magic" system from 3e GURPS Spirits or (if you can find it) GURPS Voodoo. Supposedly a 4e book called Thaumatology will collect all the variant systems from various older books, but there's no release date.

GURPS does have more of a mortal-level, realistic feel to it. If you want high-flying fantasy, I'd suggest a system like HeroQuest (or Mythic Russia), FATE, or something PDQ-based (e.g. Questers of the Middle Realms or Zorceror of Zo). Alternately, you might try Hero System (Fanatsy Hero) if you want the PCs to all have uncanny powers, precisely measured through a point-buy system.


EDIT: If you want some more personalized advice, check the spells/powers characters take. I guess this applies to any fantasy campaign, but in mine I failed to note what spells the party of mages had, and often had adventures short-circuited because, for example, one character could teleport to the other side of a door and let his compatriots in.

It might help to set limits on Advantages as well, if only to reduce the "firehose" of options new players find themselves confronted with. One technique I'm planning to try for a one-shot is to build NPCs and PCS only using the "GURPS Lite" rules, and building templates from selected advantages in the Basic Set or elsewhere to reflect character types or magical powers.

gurusloth
01-17-2007, 02:07 AM
GURPS Fantasy can be fun, as long as the players realize it's not the same beast as D&D. Plus, you can really make great characters with unique abilities. I played a short campaign with 100 point characters (I was a roguish fencer with a penchant for larceny), and it was a blast.

ghostwalker
05-31-2007, 09:04 PM
I played some GURPS Fantasy several years ago, and really enjoyed it. One of the great things about the system is the ability of the GM to set power levels exactly where he wants it. If he wants to run a high or low-level campaign, he just simply adjusts the starting point total for his characters. We tried everything from 100 points to 400. Even at 100 points, you can come up with a character that's interesting and unique.

Also, spells are bought like skills, with certain spells serving as prerequisites for the more powerful spells that follow, giving magic the feeling of having a progression of learning.

There are no classes. Characters can have any mixture of skills and abilities the player desires. No XP adjustments, no favored classes.

Awarding character points is much easier. No charts, no Challenge Ratings.

Finally, GURPS can be extremely fatal. Since hit point totals are much lower than in D&D (think 1st-level fighter or barbarian), players tend to be a lot more careful. One hit can kill anybody. There is no such thing as "soaking up damage" in GURPS. This makes players think more about the consequences of their actions; also, it makes them less prone to pick fights. GURPS was the first system where I really roleplayed, and I enjoyed it immensely.

All in all, GURPS is a good system for fantasy games, unless you only enjoy hack-and-slash games.

Aramax
06-13-2007, 05:45 PM
I love GURPS but not for fantasy or superheros,It just never gave me
a feeling I liked.EVERYTHING else yes GURPS (especially space or Star Trek)

Holocron
08-08-2007, 02:37 PM
Hahha, thats interesting Aramax, after playing a space campaign once, I didn't think gurps was well suited to space type campaigns, mainly because of the starship design rules. The 3rd edition gurps space rules I'm thinking of is pretty old though, so there is quite possibly some updates since then.

I don't have much experiance with a super hero gurps campaign, but my friend used to play and GM it A LOT, and he loved it.

I have most experiance with Gurps for fantasy settings, and I like it a lot.

People have already outlined the main points, but I agree with most of them. A lot of realism with the mortality rate, great flexibility to make unique characters (you're not stuck with what your "class(s)" provide).

Probably the important thing for running any gurps campaign is for both the GM and the players to know the rules fairly well. The GM of course needs to know them in pretty good detail because he's running the game, and you don't want players tricking you with rules lawyer tactics, but you need the players to know the rules a bit to so they can make characters without you overseeing every step of the way, just for the end review and approval. It also makes the game flow easier when players know the rules because they'll know what they need to roll for and when etc, so you're not guiding them through every step of "roll 3d to hit, ok good, roll 2D-2 for damage..."

PS: I don't want to slam on D&D, because I've been told its a lot better than it used to be, but after knowing classless systems like GURPS and WEG Star Wars for so long I've kind of become sort of a gaming snob I guess. I can't imagine playing a system with classes and levels of experiance anymore... I used to play pallidium's TMNT and robotech, so I feel like I should know what thats all about sort of, but I just find classes to be unrealistically restrictive, and "levels" of experiance too simplistic. In gurps you could never summarize your character so quickly as "a 15th level mage". You could say something like "sort of a fighter type" or a "magic user", but in gurps there's so much flexibility that simple descriptions like that could mean anything. I think its the ability to make your character exactly the way you imagine it thats cool.

The other thing I don't like about most "class and level" systems is that you usually roll your attributes. I know there's non-roll methods, but the method of making the most powerful character is really lucky rolling! I hate that. I think players should have complete control over every aspect of creating their character, within the boundaries set by the GM.

Moritz
08-12-2007, 06:10 PM
Hated it. It wasn't D&D. That's really all I have to say :)

Seriously though. Did not like the game mechanics at all. It was your typical HERO system slowness, drawing out a 30 second game battle into a 3 hour battle. There wasn't really a 'class' thing going on, everyone was like a Bard - no masters, just a bunch of mutts. And like the hero system, if you wear kevlar, you can never die.

Grimwell
08-13-2007, 12:45 AM
Since I'm headed to Gen Con, and always in the market for something different, can anyone tell me what is the current edition of GURPS fantasy? I can at least check it out and let the Steve Jackson Games people pitch to me. :P

fmitchell
08-13-2007, 01:48 AM
Since I'm headed to Gen Con, and always in the market for something different, can anyone tell me what is the current edition of GURPS fantasy?

Right now there are three main books, all written for 4th Edition:

GURPS Fantasy (http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/fantasy/) offers worldbuilding advice and examples for GURPS. It includes a default setting called "Roma Arcana", plus many stats and templates for creatures, nonhuman species, and items.

GURPS Magic (http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/magic/) expands the default magic system (as presented in the Basic Set) with new spells, magic items, and a few options for variant systems.

GURPS Banestorm (http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/banestorm/) details the world of Yrth, where the eponymous Banestorm, a magic spell gone horribly wrong, whisked creatures from multiple realities -- notably 12th century Earth -- into a world of elves, dwarves, and orcs. It requires the previous two books.

GURPS Fantasy is a good book (so far, still reading), and GURPS material translates well into other games once you understand the basic concepts. To extract more value from the book, you might need "GURPS Lite", 4th edition, which is a free 32 page distillation of core rules.

But, if you want to run GURPS, you'll need the Basic Set 4th Edition (http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/basic/)-- two volumes, about $75 wholesale -- plus Fantasy at $35 so you're looking at $110. Add Magic if you use their magic system, and you're up to $145 total. Just fair warning.

If you find that figure daunting, Amazon usually has GURPS books for 30% or so. If you look you can also find the Discworld Roleplaying Game, which customizes 3rd Edition GURPS into a self-contained worldbook for Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. Or, you can get old Basic Set Third Edition book for $30 or less and GURPS Magic 3e (and most world books) for $10 or less each.

Grimwell
08-14-2007, 02:12 AM
Someday, the print rpg industry will realize that the main barrier to entry into their 'secondary' games is price point. Staying with D&D is easy when I don't have to spend $150 just to consider using a new system.

I know, nothing new there... but still.

fmitchell
08-14-2007, 11:18 AM
Someday, the print rpg industry will realize that the main barrier to entry into their 'secondary' games is price point. Staying with D&D is easy when I don't have to spend $150 just to consider using a new system.

I know, nothing new there... but still.

Well, the $35+ hardback books are a reaction to a couple of factors:


Apparently (according to SJ) bookstores and game stores *want* to stock fancy-looking hardbacks. Blame White Wolf and WotC, I guess.

GURPS 3rd edition had one main book, and several worldbooks. Except the worldbooks added new advantages, disads, and skills for that genre which proved useful later ... but might appear in altered form due to playtesting or simple adaptation. They released two GURPS Compendiums (compendia?) to patch the problem, but finally for 4th edition they put all the rules to date in a two-volume Basic Set, and attempted to make 4th edition books cover entire genres, with the occasional tech catalog or heavily detailed worldbook.


At least they're not Mongoose, which releases RuneQuest as hardbound slivers of books at $25 or more a pop, minimum three to be useful.

P.S. "GURPS Lite" looks playable, and free, and GURPS Fantasy is at least half system-free suggestions on creating a fantasy world. Unfortunately, all GURPS books use Basic Set references freely, so the crunchy bits of GURPS Fantasy won't be much help.

I'd suggest checking out "GURPS Lite", and see if you like the system enough to shell out money for the full version.

Skunkape
08-15-2007, 08:26 AM
I have to say I like it a lot when a company will put out a lite rules system for free! Makes me more interested in purchasing their full product, even before I've read the lite rules!

Robocoastie
10-09-2007, 11:50 PM
" Finally, GURPS can be extremely fatal. Since hit point totals are much lower than in D&D (think 1st-level fighter or barbarian), players tend to be a lot more careful. One hit can kill anybody. There is no such thing as "soaking up damage" in GURPS. This makes players think more about the consequences of their actions; also, it makes them less prone to pick fights. GURPS was the first system where I really roleplayed, and I enjoyed it immensely."

Very true. Do keep in mind though that GURPS is very detailed about things such as taking cover though, a more detailed defense system and distances for range weapons and magic which balances it out. D&D uses an AC system where dodging, blocking, etc... is assumed. Nothing wrong with that method as it's quick and easy but indeed the crunchiness of GURPS gives much more teamwork and RP opportunity.

Digital Arcanist
10-10-2007, 12:28 AM
GURPS is great and I love playing it. If you are going to GenCon Grim then you should be able to get used or new books at a great discount.

I got my Hero System book new and autographed for 35 bucks at DunDraCon so you should be able to get a great deal as well.

Holocron
10-10-2007, 01:48 AM
Great points there Robo, and whoever you were quoting.

I've heard some people complain that GURPS has TOO much detail in the rules, but I think a lot of it has to do with the GM and players. If the GM knows all the rules well, maybe they can apply them in a way that still keeps the game moving smoothly. Otherwise, just do what you would do for any other game, use the rules you know and do what makes sense when you get outside what you know. You can always look up the book method later and decide if you'll use it in the future or not.

pawsplay
10-22-2007, 09:50 PM
I have very fond memories of my 1st and 3rd edition fantasy campaigns. There were some quirks I had to iron out, but actually, most of those have been addressed by the new edition. One of my best campaigns was a banestorm dropping a section of Disneyland into Yrth. It only halted when my mother overheard a rape and kidnapping plot by one of the dark elves, and banned me from RPGs...

Holocron
10-23-2007, 12:49 AM
Geez, thats pretty messed up. Everyone knows darkelves don't want anything to do with non-elvish women, and then they wouldn't do anything like that to a fellow elf. The whole plot is absurd!

Ok, geek factor aside I ran into a case where my mom didn't want to play a RPG, Vampire the Masquerade specifically because one of my friends gave it to me for Christmas, and she looked through it a little. She didn't really like the subject matter, and made me give it back and didn't want me to play it. A little later we were able to think for ourselves and realized it wasn't really about the kind of stuff she thought it was.

pawsplay
10-25-2007, 09:03 AM
Geez, thats pretty messed up. Everyone knows darkelves don't want anything to do with non-elvish women, and then they wouldn't do anything like that to a fellow elf. The whole plot is absurd!


Uh, ok. Personally, I like to have a little depth in my characters, but if you want all dark elves to act like cardboard cutouts that is ok by me. The involved characters had their reasons, that is about all I have to say about that.

Holocron
10-26-2007, 12:40 AM
Hahaha! You responded so seriously, I was partly kidding there.

I think a more significant issue than depth of darkelves personality is the subject matter. Call me a pansy, but most of our gaming was pretty much in the PG-13 realm. We had one guy carrying out some stuff similar to your dark elves, but he was acting alone and specifically playing a character as evil as possible. Even then we glossed over the details, he was sort of like "oh and by the way I do 'that', because it would be evil."

I'm surprised that in hindsight you haven't concluded that the main topic of the adventure probably wasn't appropriate.

pawsplay
10-26-2007, 07:56 PM
Hahaha! You responded so seriously, I was partly kidding there.

I think a more significant issue than depth of darkelves personality is the subject matter. Call me a pansy, but most of our gaming was pretty much in the PG-13 realm. We had one guy carrying out some stuff similar to your dark elves, but he was acting alone and specifically playing a character as evil as possible. Even then we glossed over the details, he was sort of like "oh and by the way I do 'that', because it would be evil."

I'm surprised that in hindsight you haven't concluded that the main topic of the adventure probably wasn't appropriate.

Inappropriate why? It's nothing but prime time cop drama material. And it was just one of several events involved in the destabilization of the impromptu governing body.

Holocron
10-27-2007, 01:07 AM
Oh sorry, it was sounding like it was the primary mission objective of the players. If it was in there to highlight how evil the player's enemies are, then game on.

pawsplay
10-28-2007, 05:10 PM
If you're using GURPS Magic and/or GURP Banestorm, you don't need GURPS Fantasy. It might be handy, but it's not necessary. If you do have GURPS Fantasy, you also have more value, since it can be used as inspiration for dozens of campaigns, and includes a sample campaign as a bonus.

michael
08-28-2009, 11:21 AM
I have very fond memories of my 1st and 3rd edition fantasy campaigns. There were some quirks I had to iron out, but actually, most of those have been addressed by the new edition. One of my best campaigns was a banestorm dropping a section of Disneyland into Yrth. It only halted when my mother overheard a rape and kidnapping plot by one of the dark elves, and banned me from RPGs...

I laughed my butt off when I ready that.

Bearfoot_Adam
08-30-2009, 12:54 AM
Am looking at starting a GURPS fantasy in the next couple weeks. So I'll let you know. Otherwise I'm kind of excited.

Dark
08-30-2009, 07:39 AM
Hummm somuds promising.

Eryiedes
11-14-2009, 08:46 PM
I converted many Dragonlance adventures for GURPS in the passed.
Even the Drow series and Against the Giants and had no player complaints.
The action wasn't different....just a heck of a lot faster....and fatigue is a bigger killer than ballista wielding giant.
Mind you the new GURPS - Dungeon Fantasy is pretty much their equivalent of the D20 D&D experience but when I had done my conversions, it was not available....(By a decade).
The latest D20 D&D 4E stuff is actually probably better played in D20...
Tactical mapping considerations aside...4E D&D encounters have been reduced to carefully balanced formula events that don't translate very well into GURPS due to discrepancies with hit points between the gaming systems...and the difference in the importance placed on defences between the two systems.
As long as you enjoy the "cinematic" flare...D&D should pose no problem to run in GURPS and will most likely play quite well "as is"...but high realism will require a great deal of toning down of the severity and occurance of encounters in even the lowest level of modules if there is to be any hope of the majority of hereos surviving to a second adventure.....these sort of games tend to chew up a LOT of NPC's.

Peace & Light

trechriron
11-15-2009, 02:38 AM
There is a Dungeon Fantasy (http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/dungeonfantasy/) series for GURPS 4e. It's fantastic and really captures the D&D feel. There are now 7 supplements!

Another nifty series for a fantasy game is the Power-Ups (http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/power-ups/) series.

Thaumatology (http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/thaumatology/) has great ideas for creating custom magic systems/styles and I highly recommend it for customizing out your world's magic.

Powers (http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/powers/) is a fantastic book that many of us consider the "3rd core book". This can help you stat out cool special abilities and powers you find in your D&D creatures and classes.

Also, when starting up a GURPS campaign, strongly consider filling out the campaign sheet. Thoroughly! Let the players know what kind of templates, advantages, disadvantages, skills, etc. you will allow/disallow. Makes character creation go a little faster and helps you get characters you will allow in play.

Happy GURPSing! :D

Omegaman
01-06-2010, 02:52 PM
I have been running a fantasy game for several months now for my D&D group. At stopping points we break and then do several weeks of 3.5. Then we come back and keep going with the GURPS campaign. It has been a great time. My players pretty much all like and know D&D so they tend to play GURPS the same way. So our combats are often about running into the thick of it and hacking away at folks.

This is normally very dangerous in GURPS, but since I have seen what style my players enjoy, I have built the adventures around that. There is not a LOT of NPC targeting the vitals and such. I don't strictly worry about the no defense from behind, just because my players are not used to facing rules and they don't really like it when it catches them by surprise.

As we play, we introduce new rules, such as "deceptive attacks" and "extra effort", bit by bit as they players begin looking for new ways to use the rules.

Most of the PCs are not very 3 dimensional, not a lot of non-immediately useful skills, again a holdover from D&D I believe. The players are having a lot of fun though, and they are picking up a new game system and I am having a blast running a game where the PCs don't have 60hp. As our combat gets more deadly, they are getting a bit more cautious, and as they get into more in depth non combat encounters, they are starting to respect the "other" skills that are there.

I find that GURPS works excellent for fantasy. If you want lots of over the top battles which simulate D&D, just let them buy off HP damage with FT points. "it's only a scrape, or a fleshwound".

The best part of the game is that everyone's limit on character creation was, "something you would enjoy playing". So we have WOW warlocks, viking shaman, and psychic mercenaries, Elemental wizards and Stone cold medusai (pun intended) along with a telekinetic, living artifact weapon that possesses an inert body.

It's been a blast putting it together.

The thing I noticed about D&D going to GURPS. None of my players selected, Status, Wealth, Contacts, Allies, Dependents, or Rank. These are all the intangibles that are very GURPS but I don't think they are ready for that yet. Those abilities just look like point soaks to them. Of course, we started with 100pts so they didn't get to build supermen. They are up to about 160 or so now and climbing quickly. 2-5 CP per session.

Final note. GURPS is great for fantasy.

trechriron
01-06-2010, 05:24 PM
Also, the new Treasure Tables supplement is out for Dungeon Fantasy. The new format for Pyramid is outstanding, I highly recommend them.

I hear that Low Tech and 3 PDFs supporting Low Tech are in Kromm's (Sean Punch) hands in edit. I can't wait, these should be excellent books!

Holocron
01-07-2010, 06:55 AM
Sounds like you're having an awesome time Omegaman! I have very fond memories of my gurps fantasy campaign, and a lot of the things you speak about are some of the things I love about the system. The intangibles; rank, status, charisma... and the non-combat skillls and especially the lethality of the combat system... very nice. I used to have D&D fanatics try to tell me that D&D has everything that GURPS has, but your story just confirms for me that it doesn't.

The thing I like most about GURPS, is that you can make any kind of character you want. You're not limited by such unrealistic and restrictive things as "classes".

2-5 pts per session feels like a lot. I remember we would get 3-5 for full length adventures, that sometimes took as many as 5 sessions to finish... but, we were introduced to RPGs by a very pt stingy GM, so its what we were used to. As a GM, I personally like the pt awards every session, but in smaller amounts.

Glad its been an awesome game for you so far.

cliff
01-07-2010, 01:31 PM
That was definitely just your GM being stingy... the GURPS rules state that at the end of every session, the GM should award the players between 0 and 5 points, averaging 2-3.

Holocron
01-08-2010, 04:37 AM
Oh noes!! After all these years it turns out I've been missing out on 50-80% of all the character points I was entitled to???

Hmm, y'know, you'd think that with my love affair with my character point stash, I'd have read that part of the rules much more clearly... Oh well.

cliff
01-08-2010, 04:19 PM
Well, as with every RPG ever made, it also clearly states it's the GMs call in the end. If you had fun, then the rest is academic.

I tend to like to go a bit heavy on the award in the earlier segments of the game and slow down a bit later. Let the players gain power while they're still getting attached to their characters and then slow it down once they're immersed in the role.

Omegaman
01-08-2010, 07:46 PM
Well, I think I am giving out lots of points. The 2-5 is usually 2-3 per session, but then at the end of an adventure arc I will award from 6-15 in one fell swoop. We started at 100pts and I need to get them to the 250pt range so they will be ready for my master plan to go into effect.

It is a pretty big campaign and as it grows, they will really need the points so I am laying it on to get them up there, and then we can back it down and do 1s and 2s if we need to.

Just didn't want to start them out at 250 pts because they have no experience with the game and I think they would have made VERY lopsided characters. This 100 to 250 growth period lets them start with a decent concept and then build it in a realistic fashion so that their 250 pts resemble a well rounded character. I hope. I have never played GURPS before so we'll see. I think it's working though, cause instead of having 20 points to unbalance something, they are spending 1-3 on improving ablities and picking up a skill here and there to round out their concept.

Holocron
01-09-2010, 03:51 AM
Cliff - Yeah, I don't really feel bad about it. In my opinion the smaller pt awards made the game much more realistic, and made every pt award feel much more valuable. In hindsight, I feel like the campaign was VERY well done.

Omegaman - Ahh I see, so there is a reason for the extra large pt awards. It does sort of make some sense, and I think it'll accomplish your goal of well rounded characters.

One thing to consider though, since this is everyone's first time playing Gurps, you're establishing the precedent with the pt awards. So if there's a new campaign later, people may feel deprived if the pt awards suddenly shrink. (personally I prefer consistency in what to expect)

Also, don't feel obligated to bring your pcs up to the 250 pt level to execute your master plan. 250 is a LOT. It basically means they're on the edge of being super human in ability (a super-normal, or super powerful, but not possessing super "powers")

In my Gurps fantasy campaign, I didn't reach the 150-160 pt range until about the END of the whole campaign, at the conclusion of the dramatic ending. There were several times that I went up against enemies worth several times more points than I was. There was a 300 point bale, and then her brother, a 500 pt fighter-mage type, which enchanted gear to boot I think.

When all the wild stuff really started happening, there were enemies (demons) with enchanted full plate, and strengths at like 50, and sword skills at 20-25...

Obviously we didn't kill all these guys, but some of us survived, and we managed to defeat a few of these guys.

So take into account that the lethality of combat works both ways, the enemies die easier too, and players are usually innovative and can find ways to overcome a high powered enemy.

Its your campaign, so its not wrong to give big point awards and bring them up to the 250 pt level, I'm just saying that you don't have to feel locked into that just because you have a larger than life master plan coming up against them.

One last comment is that I was actually pretty proud as a player to have survived and accomplished everything I did at the point level I was at. If I had been at 250 or 300 pts, I wouldn't have been too impressed, but starting at 100 and working my way up to 150 and having taken on so many enemies that were so much more powerful than I was, I really feel like it was a much larger accomplishment, and still feel amazed that I was able to survive all that.