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 It analyzes the fantasy genre to set the mood of a campaign, gives advice for world-building (including historical reference points), and details common monsters, professions, and "races".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.
Last edited by fmitchell; 12-13-2006 at 04:57 PM.
"On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
- Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)