One of the reasons I love blogging is that it allows me the chance to offload and work out my thinking. I'm pretty sure that I've written about this before somewhere, perhaps on an old and defunct website, but today's thinking is probably quite different from the thinking back then. Let's find out...
What is GURPS?
GURPS is Steve Jackson Games' award-winning roleplaying game system. Without getting into a whole big product review, the name started out as a kind of joke and stands for "Generic Universal Role Playing System".
The game has two core rulebooks, which are really two halves of one whole - so much so that they actually cross-reference one-another, and the second volume starts with Chapter 10.
Book One is GURPS: Characters and Book Two is GURPS: Campaigns.
The game is in its 4th edition, having been around for more than 20 years. In that time, I've maybe had three or four games.
Why haven't I played much GURPS?
Two barriers have got in the way of my playing GURPS as much as I might have liked. Firstly, my players have tended to 'play it safe' with either D&D or setting-specific systems; secondly, I've not insisted on giving it a fair crack of the whip.
The bottom line is that, fantastic as it is, my players have a hard time getting their head around a generic, universal RPG system. I've been told, variously, that there is too much choice and that the options are confusing. This is potentially true... although, as I have come to realise, those problems can be overcome with some good ol' fashioned GM prep.
Why do I like GURPS?
At the risk of echoing Steve Jackson's own selling points from pages 5-6 of GURPS: Characters, I have to admit that the big selling points are exactly those he lists:
And you don't need more than the two core books.
- Generic: The game can be customised to whatever level of detail and complexity you want while remaining the same game.
- Universal: You can genuinely run any setting, any genre, any type of game with the rules.
- Role Playing: The game encourages role-playing, as opposed to roll-playing, and requires strong characterisation to build characters.
- System: It's a comprehensive system which has all the bases covered... and all works together. Honest.
Although I have fallen prey to purchasing almost every 4th Edition book for GURPS, and there are many, you really don't need them. There are books for setting ideas and support, and there are books for crunch - but you don't need more than GURPS Characters and Campaigns.
Any character, any setting, any story, any style... GURPS can handle it.
What about prep?
GURPS, like most RPGs, requires prep work. More than some, actually.
That's because you need to decide what the game you are going to play is about: who are the heroes, what is the setting... and, therefore, what parameters for GURPS are you setting. Once defined, however, GURPS front loads all of the complexity into character creation so the players can simply play.
In my honest opine, it's worth the prep to get a game in and never again have to change rules system.
Whatever the genre, setting, story or character... say it with me, "GURPS can handle it".
That, my friends, is why I like GURPS.