Why I am Back with GURPS :-)
Posted in a SJGames thread here, but reproduced here for P&PG Games pleasure... (My two major posts)
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Inspired from "why is GURPS not as popular as d20" and "The OTHER GURPS renaming it" threads and perhaps a tinge of personal guilt...
Originally Posted by Various Person's Misconceptions
I have pondered these "problems" much lately with the several threads bantering about the last 60 days. GURPS has some misconceptions out there. I think the desire of these threads are rooted in these misconceptions and what people perceive is a problem "selling the game". A new name is not going to change anything. A new setting or adventure is not going to help. Only the fan base through playing and sharing the game are going to increase the market value of GURPS and ultimately overcome the misconceptions. Even with our efforts it's likely GURPS will never overcome all its misconceptions or enamor its detractors. But we could be trying harder. At least, that is what I realized over the last couple of days.
GURPS as a name is perfect. It describes EXACTLY what the game is doing. It has years of brand power and recognition. The misconceptions around GURPS are only going to be overcome with people playing the game and realizing the benefits of using GURPS. Also, consider that as my generation (class of 1980 inducted fat-beard grognards) ages, we have found less time to create and tinker. In my case, my desire to make my hobby a business has interfered with my deep need to create and express. I don't think I am alone in my dysfunction. Why not just support the game I love and not worry about the business? Is it really that hard to pull something together with GURPS? Are we not just getting distracted and lazy? I feel like I have been. Distracted and lazy.
Originally Posted by Trent's Analogy
Let's be honest. Even us GURPS fans don't help most of the time. There are a few diehards and then there are those of us with system ADD that are easily distracted. We sympathize with those who disparage GURPS because we hope to build bridges and understanding. We start fan Wikis that languish, collaborative projects that die in the creative womb, and generally carry on like a bowl of flakes surrounded by Fruit Loops in warm milk. There are people on the forums in the GURPS forum who don't like GURPS. Bah! We certainly don't need controversy, but it would be nice to see fans pitching ideas that help overcome the bias we (maybe subconsciously) see undermining the player base of GURPS. We don't need to disparage GURPS detractors. But we could revitalize a focus to inject solutions and ideas into those conversations to impress upon potential players what GURPS can do. There are piles of threads in the GURPS forum with no one is pitching GURPS system solutions or ideas. Are we missing an opportunity to Bring the GURPS?
In addition, we GURPS fans are constantly pining for the next thing but what about all the stuff we already have?!?! I have TWO shelves of GURPS stuff. Does it not bother me just a little that I have piles of GURPS stuff I could be using to run a fantastically fun RPG right now but I keep thinking "I need Low Tech or Thaumatology to REALLY pull this off...". B.S. Yeah, it bothers me now. I need to stop. I feel like my lack of support is helping a movement of fans that are actually sabotaging the support of GURPS.
I feel guilty about this (obviously!). I love GURPS. I have for some time. But I make excuses. "People won't play GURPS" "It's hard to find players" "It's too much work". Funny thing is; I am sure that if I brought an adventure with pre-gens to my monthly game day, I could find interested players who want to learn a new game or try something new. I just have to stop focusing on the misconceptions and start focusing on WHY I like GURPS and then do something with it.
After playing a multitude of games this year, I have realized I really just want to run GURPS. I am not going to compromise anymore. I have some ideas for "bringing the GURPS" so I am going to polish them up and share them. This convention I am attending next weekend is my last dalliance with other games. It's time I put my money (and time) where my mouth (and heart) is!
So, what will you do to share the game? What pet project have you put off? What Wiki needs some dusting off? What do we need to do to BRING THE GURPS?!?! I am interested in this conversation. Taking action puts us in control and gives us something we can do that doesn't' rest on the laurels of someone else. We are fans and our fanaticism can make an impact.
Anyhoo, that became a long winded diatribe! I guess I have been doing some soul searching, and pondering these threads, and I had an epiphany. My intent was not to insult anyone, so I apologize if I did. I just needed to vent/share!
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I thought maybe someone would be interested to know. How did I come to realize I wanted GURPS (again)? Here's my story.
I have looked at piles of systems, read hundreds, played dozens, and bought/sold whole collections. Except I always keep my GURPS. I have always wanted to run a regular GURPS group but (as previously mentioned) made excuses. One was a delusion. I wanted to publish a setting. I thought I could make a go of it doing my own thing, but frankly it's not what I want. I don't want to invent new systems from whole cloth; I just want to create my settings, ideas, and adventures. Then run a game with them!
I looked at lighter systems but realized after a few sessions that tweaking out the rules or looking outside the narrow scope of what those systems offered was way more work than I wanted. Things like magic and powers were under-developed and customizing them was a chore. Several systems hardly offered any magic or powers at all. So much is left out to get the "guts" published that after a few games that "emptiness" became glaring. I kept thinking to myself "I could easily tweak that out or add something new if we were playing GURPS instead". One of the games I ran had several players disappointed because we couldn't really customize spells without some serious tinkering and hand-waving. I felt like the game had short term play potential but was lacking the substance I wanted to support a longer-term campaign.
I then thought to try out the popular games because they had the largest player base. This is what people are looking for, might as well try and cater to that need. I settled down to try out several sessions of D&D 4e (Living Forgotten Realms) a couple sessions of Pathfinder and took a long look into Fantasy Craft. I was reminded why I didn't like d20 anymore, especially classes and levels. I realized that regardless of how pretty or "changed" these games were not going to inspire me again. I just don't like them. What I did garner from the popular games? The bulk of the popular games are as involved as GURPS is, both in tactical combat, character creation, and options. Why go with a game I feel is less internally consistent that GURPS?
Sprinkled in these sessions were a plethora of smaller publisher and "Indy" games; Mouse Guard, 3:16, Godlike, Danger Patrol, Starblazer Adventures, Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies. I also managed a couple World of Darkness games to boot! Recently I played Shadowrun 4e and started reading and learning Earthdawn 3e.
I experienced some interesting things.
The Indy story games I played in were hardly used in the "narrative story-focused" capacity one may have thought - even the ones "designed" to do so. At demos people tended to just play the games the same way they would any other ignoring the system parts they didn't "get". Like plot manipulation which I have not seen taken very well with most of the players introduced to the concept. Some games have different ways of presenting the same "this modifies your roll in some way" system. In the end it really is just more work to arrive at the same place; that action has a penalty or a bonus based on some situation/factor.
Also, the whole "this inspires the player to play the character in a particular way" or "this rewards a particular behavior" effect was overstated. Certainly there are some mechanics that inspire me, but I haven't met a lot of players yet that will use them. I HAVE learned some neat GM tricks and ideas from these games, but I can accomplish the bulk of these effects with GURPS. Also, there are PILES of GMs that don't bother to bring any part of the special character stuff (disads, flaws, etc.) into the game. I will, so it can't hurt to have them.
Going to "laser focused" games with "new innovative" systems didn't really impress upon me a significant difference. I don't see any reason at this point to "go light" in hopes that a mechanic is going to inspire player behavior or somehow create a more involved story. I just didn't see it. Players just ask more questions and the GM is like, just roll or "this happens" and it left a feeling of disconnection with the imaginary world and the game. I did freeform make believe when I was a young lad, and I grew up to want some actual rules for it. Systems do not create good players. Being a good player requires several things most of which is a desire to not be a jerk. A system can't protect you from the jerk.
Additionally, many games have complexity or the illusion of complexity; GURPS is not some special culprit in this arena. It took me four days to create a Shadowrun 4e Rigger, and I am still tweaking him out after the first session. It's not a bad thing, just my inexperience and the breadth of the options made for a longer haul. Such will it be for any new players of a game they don't know. I can make that process easier and faster as an experienced GM. It will depend on the investment the GM makes into the players. It is not really system specific.
Also, many games are just as "complex" or appear complex as first glance. GURPS is not unique in this area. And just like GURPS, many of these systems play just fine. Some require more referencing than others, but the universal truth of "knowing this game makes everything about this game go faster" applied to all of them.
After looking at all this I just had to ask myself "what makes this any different than GURPS?" If I can't really see any difference, than what is it about this system I like MORE than GURPS? Nothing. I guess I could learn and support and play a multitude of systems, but in the end I really just want to become proficient in one. I really like generic systems. Always have. It fits what I want and I can't compromise that anymore. If there is going to be ramp up time (and I believe there always will be) and there is going to be some time invested in character creation (and I believe there always should be) then the "benefits" of a "faster" or "lighter" game don't measure up in my mind.
So I have chosen to be a GURPS GM again. Exclusively. There are lots of people out there running other games and I am going to focus on this one.
Just my personal experience. YMMV. :-D