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Thread: GURPS: How Much Of A Commitment?

  1. #1
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    Question GURPS: How Much Of A Commitment?

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    As it comes down to me spending the actual cash I am really questioning myself again. Is abandoning D&D 3.X for GURPS the right thing to do? I don't want to be confined just to fantasy but I've heard GURPS is really only good for modern and future settings. Since I'm really not interested in modern that pretty much confines me to Future/Sci-Fi. I realize both systems have supplements that were published which will allow me to play in other genres but at the systems core, they were designed primarily for or just work the best with, it functions near-seamlessly with really only one setting.

    Sure the rules can be bent but this requires time. The more house-rules you create the harder it is going to be for new players to feel comfortable and secure with your setting. One of the biggest cons for me right now, as far as D&D is concerned, isn't so much the fantasy setting as it is the rules. I've ready many complaining and stating that they are overly complicated. Combat can take a very long time with a lot of enemies on the board. Monte Cook's final battle had over 100 mini's on the board (95% were non-party friendly). I can't even imagine how long it must have taken them to work through that final battle.

    I'm changing my focus from Wargaming to get some serious RP. I prefer to have 75% RP and 25% combat on average in my sessions. I know there will be some very serious combat heavy portions of the campaign and that is fine by me. What I fear is over complicated combat that really slows down the game. I know players will get bored when it isn't their turn but I want to minimize the chances of this happening as much as possible. With GURPS MUCH simpler gaming mechanics (character creation aside) I think it would allow for far less "I'm bored" moments.

    From what I understand GURPS is about world building though. How much preparation am I really looking at before I can start playing a meaningful campaign? I know that DM who doesn't prep much will probably have a decently shallow campaign and the DM who invests a lot of time will have a more rewarding campaign. Not in the sense that the DM creates all the monsters and lays down a concrete path the PC must walk, but in that the game is played in a very detailed world like D&D is. A DM has to do little preparation in D&D and his players will generally have a firm understanding of the world around them. GURPS I would imagine is quite different. It is geared towards world building isn't it? Not a lot of ready made modules or super detailed worlds you can easily adventure in like Ptolus?

    I'm really struggling here guys and gals. Please give me feedback. Is fear of combat a stupid reason not to get into D&D 3.X? Am I putting far to much emphasis on world building to have an enthralling experience in the GURPS world? Is GURPS a bad choice for my introduction to role playing? Is the combat really not horribly different between D&D and GURPS? Please help guide me.

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    hmm...ok, here we go:

    3.x D&D/d20 Modern:
    I wouldn't stay away for fear of combat. It's not really that overly complicated. It can be as strategic as you want or not. If you don't use a battlemap or board and just keep it abstract, then you can move it along fairly quickly. Also, as the GM you don't really have to have every statistic about a creature to run a combat; you can just wing it with a few numbers. All you really need for combat is Hit Points, attack bonus total, and Armor Class. Sure, if you tried to run a 100 person fight with individual initiatives and combats, then it bog down. However, you really don't need to do that; you could just assign group of say 25 each or all 100 and give them the same initiative and combat rolls. You can scale D&D combat up or down as much as you want. At it's core, D&D combat is fairly simple.

    As far as money goes, all you really need to play is the three core books: Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual. You can usually find these used and new on eBay and Amazon for reasonable prices (half or less of original price). As it has already pointed out, you don't even really need the core books: the 3.5 D&D SRD is free online, and so is the d20 Modern SRD.

    The links to the 3.5 Dungeons & Dragons SRD and the d20 Modern SRD are on this page (left side under System Reference Document):

    http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=d20/welcome

    The SRDs are all the rules for the core books, just boiled down and without fluff and pictures. All you really need to play these games are contained in the SRDs. If you are into tinkering and world building, then these are the perfect platform because you can use these SRDs to tailor your own fantasy, past, modern, or futuristic games and campaigns. The 3.5 D&D SRD is the three core books boiled down. The d20 Modern SRD is the core book, the Urban Arcana campaign book, and the d20 Future book boiled down.

    Seriously, if cash is tight, then all you need is the free SRDs to start. If you are the type that needs a physical book (I'm like that too), then I would recommend buying used online. You can usually find good deals and the books will more than likely be in good condition.

    GURPS 4e:
    As I have said before, you cannot go wrong with GURPS as your first game system for a number of reasons. Unlike D&D, which may go through another edition change in a relatively short time, GURPS 4e remain in its current edition for years to come; if the past is any indicator. The books are hardbound and sturdy. All you really need to play GURPS is the one core book. The great thing about GURPS is the quality of the material. Whereas there have been many D&D books produced, there is a significant balance issue between the books produced after the core books. This is not the case with GURPS. Steve Jackson Games products are thoroughly playtested and researched before they are released.

    As far as combat, GURPS can be as crunchy or streamlined as you like because you can tailor it to your liking with options or not. This is similiar to my take on D&D combat above: if you use a battleboard, then GURPS can bog down as well with large combats. But, you don't need to get that detailed; you just can keep it abstract and keep tracking of effective combat skill, DP/DR, Move and Hit Points. If you are focused more on role-playing and less combat, then all you really need are a few numbers for either D&D or GURPS combat. However, you can always make both systems combat more detailed if you wish.

    As far as cash goes, GURPS is the better bargin for your money for several reasons. I already talked about the physical quality of GURPS books. Also, the material quality is top-notch and is regarded as the highest in the RPG industry. Any GURPS sourcebook you purchase will have a longevity in your RPG collection because it can be used as a resource for any RPG system that you have or will own. Also, the differences between 3rd and 4th editions GURPS are not all that great, which means that will very little work you can use any of the 3rd edition GURPS sourcebooks with your 4th edition GURPS game. This fact shouldn't be overlooked: 3rd GURPS has a large product line which is composed of quality material. You get the best of both worlds here: quantity of quality sourcebooks that can easily be converted to 4th edition GURPS. Again, you can easily find 3rd GURPS now used online for relatively cheap because now there is a new edition. If you are looking to maximize your spending power, then this is an avenue you should consider.

    Also, with GURPS, all you really need to play the game is the Lite version, which is also free to download. It is just a streamlined version without all the myrid of choices; which could be a bonus starting out with the system. One of the most time consuming thing about GURPS is character creation due to the choices. However, this is GURPS strong point: characters are very detailed and can be tailored made to focus on role-playing and not just a bunch of combat statistics like D&D. If you are just using the Lite version, then you can reduce the number of choices at character creation which will reduce the time in creating characters for both the players and the GM's NPCs.

    GURPS Lite can be downloaded here:

    http://e23.sjgames.com/item.html?id=SJG31-0004

    Conclusion:
    Both systems have merits and flaws. Both systems are good for what they were created to do as a game. It comes down to a fundamental different approach: D&D/d20 Modern are class-level based systems, and GURPS is skill-driven point assignment system. D&D/d20 Modern character creation is quick and dirty while GURPS is more detailed and character driven. Combat for either game system can be as abstract or detailed as you wish.

    Considering quality, logveity, and money spent, I would say that buck for buck GURPS is the better choice. GURPS has been around since the beginning of the RPG industry, and has set the standards for quality in the industry. GURPS is one of the top 5 game systems of the industry. More RPG produced are really just a variation of a select few systems: they are either skill-driven percentile based (Basic Role-Playing), class-level based (Dungeons & Dragons), or point-based (GURPS) when boiled down.

    Don't get me wrong, I love both systems for different reasons. I have been playing D&D in every edition since 1982 (well, technically: 1st and 2nd AD&D, 3.0 and 3.5 D&D). I played 3rd GURPS for almost 10 years. My group of friends gravitated back to D&D when 3.0 Dungeons & Dragons came out and we haven't gone back to GURPS. However, I would play GURPS again in heartbeat if the group would go for it.

    GURPS- GO FOR IT!!!!

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    Addendum:

    Ok, just a note about the differences between 3.5 Dungeons & Dragons and d20 Modern.

    3.5 D&D is really designed specifically for a high fantasy game. Whereas, d20 Modern is designed for mundane or cinematic games. With d20 Modern, you can play in any era of history, modern day, or the future. It is robust in that regard. Also, the d20 Modern allows you to create a more diverse character than D&D due to the Basic/Advanced class system. In d20 Modern, the six basic classes only have 10 levels, and is designed so that character should multi-class because there are no restrictions on multi-classing. In order to achieve 20th level wth a d20 Modern character, you have to multi-class since no class is designed with 20 levels.

    The great thing about d20 Modern is that if you want to add fantasy elements from D&D to your d20 Modern game, you can with the Urban Arcana Campaign book. It contains d20 Modern-ized versions of D&D classes, player character races, and creatures. It should also be noted that there is power level difference between D&D and d20 Modern; as it should be in my opinion. D&D has a greater power level than d20 Modern, and that is why I recommend using the rules in the Urban Arcana Campaign book if you want to add fantasy elements to your d20 Modern game rather straight importing D&D classes, creatures, races, spells, or items.

    In conclusion, d20 Modern has been an under-rated game system, and has been over-shadowed by 3.x Dungeons & Dragons. WotC has focused on D&D for years, and put d20 Modern on the back-burner; especially since they have been working on D&D 4e. However, WotC has released that a new edition of d20 Modern is scheduled to be released in 2009.

    All you need to play d20 Modern is the core book. However, with a just a few other sourcebooks (d20 Past, d20 Future, and Urban Arcana), you can create a campaign for any type of genre or time period just like GURPS.

    Note: I really like d20 Modern.

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    After reading both of your posts I remain torn. There is so much available for D&D and I don't want to miss out. While I can use the Ptolus setting for a GURPS adventure it just isn't the same as playing it with the rules it was created around. Arg

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    Why not ask your potential players if you can't decide yourself?

    Developer for Darkage Warlord, a Pen & Paper Games exclusive Medieval Wargame.

    If you are in the DC metro area and like to trade D&D minis (1.0 or 2.0), please send me a PM!

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    Again, I think it depends on what you are wanting to run. If you are going to be running a fantasy type game, I think D&D is by far your best choice for many reasons. First and foremost, you will probably find more people who enjoy and are already familiar with D&D for fantasy type games than any other system. There are also a lot more materials out there for D&D than GURPS fantasy that will be there and available for you when you want to use them -- modules, supplements, pages upon pages upon pages of monsters...

    If you're going with a modern setting, or futuristic, I personally don't like the feel of d20 modern. Having level based advanced doesn't feel right to me. For anything other than fantasy, I prefer a skill based system that leaves it possible to create very diverse characters.
    Robert A. Howard
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    Here is a conundrum. I was asked to weigh in, and I can't really say anything that has not already been said. D&D, good for high fantasy, do it if you do high fantasy. GURPS, good for Heroic level modern or future, do it if you play that. Both systems have the ability to handle other genre through related products or built into the system, but are best at the above.

    Except perhaps that you don't have to stick with only one system. While I made a decision many years ago to only run D&D, that doesn't mean I restrict myself to only playing D&D. On the shelf right here I have D&D in Every edition, GURPS, Hero, Rifts, Star Trek in two flavors (FASA and LUG) d20 Modern, Star Wars d20, Shadowrun, Toon, Call of Chluthu, Mythworld, Fringerworthy, Bureau 13, and more. I collect and play game systems large and small. I have boxes with even more obscure games in in the basement.

    Decide on which game you are playing, and get that system. However do not close yourself to just getting one system. Variety is the spice of life. Read lots of systems. Good ideas are where you find them.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
    My favorite game console is a table and chairs.
    The Olde Phoenix Inn

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    How much time does it take to get up and running with GURPS? Other than Drohem, what do you guys think about my fear of overly complex combat in D&D 3.X? I'm equally interested in Fantasy as I am in Future/Sci-Fi so the setting itself really isn't a factor in making this decision. This decision will be based on:
    1. How much time is required to get a game up and running?
    2. As an introduction to RP is one system stronger than the other/a better candidate?
    3. Would it be foolish to not to learn to play a game due to its overly complicated game play mechanics?
    4. Is D&D or GURPS have more potential than the other for RP'ing?
    I have no group of players here locally. I plan to host my games online at first to get the hang of DM'ing before I even start seeking out anybody local. ANY feedback is good feedback and would be greatly appreciated. More info is needed

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    1. Honesty, probably about the same amount of time once you're familiar with the system. The class-level nature of D&D makes it easier to ballpark numbers more quickly. Whereas with GURPS, you have to add/subtract points to fully flesh out a NPC. But, as I've already indicated, as a GM you don't really need to fully flesh out all NPCs- you just need to ballpark a few crucial numbers. If a particular NPC is going to be re-occuring, then you can take the time to fully detail it.

    2. Well, with no system bias, I would say neither has an advantage over the other. I would say that GURPS offered a better template for character role playing due to the Advantage/Disadvantage system.

    3. Short answer- yes, when talking about GURPS and D&D. Believe it or not there are some systems out there that are more complicated than these two, and in that case, then it might not be foolish to stay away from the more complicated systems.

    4. Role playing potential is really a function of the player and GM. However, I would say that GURPS has more potential based upon the detailed character creation system, especially in regards to Advantages/Disadvantages/Quirks. In D&D, beginning characters can easily become template or character cut-outs. GURPS allows for highly detailed and specific characters that are unique.

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    Drohem I can't thank you enough for your super detailed responses. I really appreciate it. I was talking with my wife in the car, going over everything said in this thread and the pro's and con's of each system. In the end both systems are pretty damn even. There is no clear winner that I can see.

    When I started looking into RP'ing D&D was where I started my research. I fell in love with products like Ptolus and Wilderlands. Upon further research I came to find amazing varients like The Complete Book Of Eldrich Might, Arcana Unearthed, The Book Of Iron Might, Iron Heroes, and Arcana Evolved. Further research led me to D20 and I found products that really peaked my interest like DragonMech, Book Of Erotic Fantasy, and Conan. As if this weren't enough I came across quality DM props and tools like DMGenie, MapTool, SkeletonKey Games e-Tiles/Adventure Tiles, paper terrain, and countless professional quality maps. I fell in love with D&D. I was instantly a D&D fanboy and when I heard of GURPS I thought it was a pathetic wanna be system. As I started to actually read D&D products and talk with actual D&D players on these boards (the 3.X vs 4E conversations were most helpful) I started to see how broken the 3.X system was in many players eyes. The more I sought answers the less excited I became.

    I started to look into other RP systems and GURPS was the very last system I looked at. I fell in love all over again. GURPS was just what I was looking for. The problem is that I have a "kid in a candy store" complex never having experienced anything but wargaming. I want to try so many different settings but I really don't have the time to learn multiple rule systems, nor play games in all of them so the systems mechanics get commited to the "experienced" section of my long term memory. Even if GURPS does offer me boundless possibilities in the end I'm going to have to settle on one or two settings and play in them for a while. I just don't have the time to play in everything I want to, at least not right from the start.

    Fantasy however is not something I want to shove aside. I love fantasy and I am still very much in love with D&D. After hearing here that D&D and GURPS can be as easy going or complex as you choose to make them, the list of reasons to choose one system over the other seems to be growing ever shorter. Both are evenly matched and both are assured to give me great amounts of fun.

    In the end though I have a mind set that I don't quite understand. I feel that if I get into GURPS right now and it is as awesome as I imagine it will be, there is the chance (especially with 4E around the corner) that I will never play D&D 3.X and all those supplements I fell in love with. Sure more D&D will be there to be had but the window for 3.X goodness will grow smaller as time goes on. However, if I play D&D first there is no question in my mind that I will play GURPS. It is just a matter of time before I pick it up. With this mindset it would appear D&D is the clear winner. But it is bugging me horribly that I believe both systems are truly equal and yet if I choose GURPS over D&D in the beginning, there is a chance that I may never play both. Bah I'm just rambling now

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    I'm still confused why you can't get both.....

    I love D&D and I love GURPS.....I mowed lawns for my books, maybe you could too?

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    Well, there is the fact that 3.5 will be replaced by 4e shortly. I strongly suspect that it is going to be a long time before another edition of GURPS will come out.

    Unless you are a serious bibilophile, then I would recommend buying used copies of the core books.

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    I just don't have the time to learn both systems. I see no point to learning both and then only playing using one of them. If I were to learn both right now I would need to have two sessions a week, one D&D and one GURPS, so the info that I did learn would actually stay with me. I really only have time for one system right now and am trying to figure out what would be the best one to go with. I know for many here such concerns are non-existent as you are seasoned PnP'ers but for a wargamer wishing to go RP, I actually have a lot to lose if I end up disliking the system I go for. I'm putting a lot of thought and effort into it and driving myself nuts. There is a thin line between dedication to finding the system that is right for you and obsessing over the task. That line is blurred to me right now. I'm usually very opinionated and make such decisions easily. It is a rare occasion indeed that I am so utterly torn .

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    Play it safe for now and stick with D&D. There is a larger, more accessible player base and you can go as high-tech as you want with the settings.

    Down the line you definitely need to sample the other systems like Champs, M&M, WoD, and the myriad other games. The best place to do it is probably GenCon, DunDraCon, and whatever local conventions you can find.

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    People have been playing fantasy role playing games using GURPS for years.


    It's not really an either/or choice.

    Jay ~Meow!~

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