GURPS…But Why?

Yesterday I broke rule number 1: never go near GURPS. Liam is running a very interesting game and I shall be playing it. But the truth is, I’ve avoided GURPS for years like the plague, as a player and particularly as a DM.

I’ve tried many times to get into it. I have the Discworld RPG which runs on GURPS. I remember getting the book for a birthday and being really excited. To this day I can sadly say I have not played it properly. I remember start reading the rule book, already as an experienced DM, and thinking to myself ….”why is this so unnecessarily complicated?!”. For a system to run pretty much whatever you like on the fly, GURPS is too elaborate, at least in my opinion. As a player, I have tried to go through character creation for many games which didn’t actually run or fell flat through the first game. Just not a very good first impression.

So here are my main issues:

Character creation takes forever and a day. I am one of those people who likes having options, so in that regards the fact that GURPS allows you to choose amongst different settings and create a character which could potentially be anything is great. The thing is though, I find that if I want the flexibility to explore/come up with whatever, I want to keep that freedom. I don’t care about the system or the rolls, I just want to play. And GURPS has one too many elaborate rules, rolls, parameters and tables to enjoy the freedom (in my very personal opinion). With regards to the character creation process, my real problem is that in order to make a character which is remotely interesting and flavoursome from the first instance, you have to accept you’re going to have to shot yourself in the foot and acquire a fair amount of disadvantages and then make up the points. But please be aware that your character also requires, basic stats, skills, potentially advantages unless you want to be just flaws. However, the effort that goes into this process may seem somewhat worthless. I have been told GURPS games end up being proper deadly because of the way damage resolution happens. Also, combat is also just as elaborate. So, from my perspective it becomes a waste of time, as I don’t enjoy playing blank slates.

Regarding rolls and system issues: the law of averages of 3d6 its something that does my head in. It is not like in WhiteWolf games where you roll as many dice depending on the level you have on something, or because each die refers to a specific aspect of your roll, like in say In Nomine Satanis/Magna Veritas (the 80s french RPG) where you roll 3 dice on a 100s system where you have a system of sucess/failure and a grading scale. The statistics are just incredibly elaborate for what something that should be relatively simple. Of course, GURPS originated years ago, and it was a proper pioneer in its field, and the several editions have allowed the game to catch up with current rpgs trends, but even so, still feels over the top. This is not a DMing prospect I’d happily buy into.

Now one advantage that GURPS has is that there is a lot of free material and support through the Steve Jackson website, alongside hundreds of supplements to keep the game interesting. Now that is something I appreciate, and perhaps wished more roleplaying systems did. So, no, it’s not all criticism for GURPS…

In any case, our game shall be starting in the next few weeks, and hopefully we will have some interesting material to show you. Who knows, maybe I’ll learn to appreciate some unknown aspect of the game that I may have been oblivious to 😉

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