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Thread: GURPS Fantasy

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    Question GURPS Fantasy

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    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.

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    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 It analyzes the fantasy genre to set the mood of a campaign, gives advice for world-building (including historical reference points), and details common monsters, professions, and "races".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)

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    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.

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    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.

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    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)

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    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.
    Last edited by Holocron; 08-08-2007 at 02:53 PM.

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    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.

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    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
    --
    Grimwell

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    Quote Originally Posted by grimwell View Post
    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 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 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 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 -- 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.
    Last edited by fmitchell; 08-13-2007 at 01:57 AM. Reason: Clarity and accurate links
    "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)

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    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.
    --
    Grimwell

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    Quote Originally Posted by grimwell View Post
    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.
    Last edited by fmitchell; 08-14-2007 at 11:28 AM.
    "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)

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    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!
    Skunk
    a.k.a. Johnprime



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    " 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.

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    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.

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    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.

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