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Author Topic: The trouble with GURPS  (Read 3838 times)

estar

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The trouble with GURPS
« on: March 05, 2011, 10:36:04 AM »
Quote from: David Johansen;443935
Yeah, around then, there was a shift in focus and rules approach around that time that was the start of the long slow slide that led to things like GURPS Vehicles.  Aliens was a bit later and you got things like claws that are only as good as a short sword costing 15 points (same as being wealthy) being entrenched in the rules for the next twenty years.


GURPS Vehicles they meant well but like similar efforts in Traveller, (MegaTraveller, FF&S,etc) the simpler system was better.  But in GURPS Traveller and the 4e Spaceships they came up with a better way that works great.  And it still uses GURPS Vehicles at it's heart.

What they did is use GURPS Vehicles (a subsequent version that unpublished as of date) to build modules that snap together. So there is none of the round tripping hassle that FF&S, GURPS Vehicle style rules requires.  I thought it was a pretty cool hack in that they fixed the issue without throwing away their previous work.


Quote from: David Johansen;443935

It's when GURPS went from being simpler than HERO to far more detail oriented and complex.  IRRC the new autofire rules with the four round burst table first appeared in Space.  Autoduel was still doing 3 rolls to hit and Space was only three or four years later.


I largely stuck with fantasy for my GURPS so gun rules never bothered me one way or the other. Well I did have a few black powder weapons. As for complexity the issue was largely solved for me with the introduction of templates. Fantasy has always been easy for me regardless of edition but I also got lost when trying to make a sci-fi or modern character. Templates offer a good starting point that solved the issue.

Quote from: David Johansen;443935

Space also revisited the GURPS Humanx approach to starships and ship to ship combat which I've always thought was a terrible cop out.  I wanted tactical ship to ship combat though in hindsight the best thing that could have been in there is the Space Opera Combat System from GURPS Lensman and GURPS Compendium 2.


Space is completely different in 4e with the Spaceship series. It now straightforward and simple to use.

Quote from: David Johansen;443935

It's the period where the range of skills and advantages expanded to the point where the stat to points balance got screwy and you suddenly had to have Legal Enforcement Powers for 15 points to play a knight.


The approach I took is that those type of advantage represent the Characters initial starting point. Afterwards I only care about charging points for stuff that confers a mechanical advantage as opposed to a roleplaying advantage.

Quote from: David Johansen;443935

Mind you, in spite of having started at least a dozen campaigns and giving away around 24 basic sets I never managed to get a GURPS third edition campaign to last more than three or four sessions.  First edition was cleaner, clearer, and tighter and while some good things have been added many other things were simply a mess.


First or Second Edition GURPS largely made for a great fantasy game for a D&D players looking for an alternative. As a generic system handling many genres I think GURPS 4e is the best of them all.

But... I can't just hand the GURPS 4e core books to someone and expect to pick up the game like I did with the 2nd edition books I handed out. It just too overwhelming.

I advocated over the SJ Games Forum is that what they need is a single book RPG that IMPLEMENTS GURPS for a specific genre and has everything they need to play GURPS for that genre i.e. spells monsters, etc for Fantasy, spaceship, trade, planet, etc for space.  I advocated  that books for Fantasy, Space, and Horror could be made.

The 2nd edition game is still in there but all the other stuff that makes it a generic rpg just clouds for a novice.

But Munchkin is king now and GURPS is not even a priority for the company anymore.  Basically it is in the hands of Sean Punch and a small insular group of authors. They mean well and largely do good work but they are in a rut that GURPS is a generic RPG first and foremost. They don't seem to get that GURPS is fading not just because the RPG market is down but it is near unapproachable for the novice gamer.  

For me my support issues are largely solved with the Dungeon Fantasy Line but doesn't help me recruit new players. Although I never had the trouble you have keeping players for my personal game. My issues is that people say to me "We wouldn't be playing GURPS if you weren't GMing it Rob".

Let me know when finish the GURPS Clone.

David Johansen

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The trouble with GURPS
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2011, 01:31:15 PM »
Well, it won't be an exact clone, this is me and I can never leave well enough alone :D

In particular I want to fix the low end scaling issue by bumping average Strength up to 3d / 2d and adjusting hit points and damage resistance values accordingly.  Oh, and metric, my "clone" will be metric.  And roll over open ended for that matter and zero centered stats, because if people like it and find it useful I want it to be far enough away that my ass can't get sued.

I really think they need genere specific entry point books too.  Yes they've done specific settings as complete games but they haven't done generic books they've done Myth and Hellboy and Traveller and honestly I don't think that's the angle that sells people on GURPS.

What I've wanted to see for a long time is a trio of very simple 32 page genre supplements for GURPS lite: Fantasy, Space Opera, and Supers.
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RPGPundit

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The trouble with GURPS
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2011, 07:20:47 PM »
I always liked GURPS more the simpler I could run it.   As time went by, that seemed to become harder and harder to do.  I think that what's to blame is in part the creators of the game trying to push more and more towards satisfying the interests of a very particular demographic of fan, that wanted that kind of ultra-technical shit, rather than sticking more toward the mainstream.

Great sourcebooks, though. At least back in the 3e period; I haven't checked out many of the 4e GURPS books.

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danbuter

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The trouble with GURPS
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2011, 08:45:36 PM »
I think the one thing that would seriously improve GURPS would be for them to shave the skill list down. Have 20 skills for a setting/genre, that's it. Possibly have a chart with a skill list for fantasy, modern, and scifi, to cover things like computers or magic. But having a list of over 100 skills is just dumb.
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GoOrange

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The trouble with GURPS
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2011, 09:31:53 PM »
Quote from: danbuter;444311
I think the one thing that would seriously improve GURPS would be for them to shave the skill list down. Have 20 skills for a setting/genre, that's it. Possibly have a chart with a skill list for fantasy, modern, and scifi, to cover things like computers or magic. But having a list of over 100 skills is just dumb.


Agreed. There's just too much stuff to wade through when making a character.
 

David Johansen

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The trouble with GURPS
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2011, 10:01:04 PM »
My reGURPSitation is going to reduce skills to a core set with the option of upgrading to specialties.  The list isn't be down to twenty but it will come in lower and tighter than 4e.  It's not compatible enough to use 4e weapons and vehicles in any case.

At present advantages and disadvantages are all presented as traits that can be worth positive or negative points.  So you could as easily have a bonus for working in the dark as a penalty and only a single listing in the text.

One thing I won't be doing is effects based.  Not being effects based was the main reason I went to GURPS from HERO.
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KrakaJak

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The trouble with GURPS
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2011, 02:34:33 AM »
All of the issues I had with GURPS were solved in BESM 3e.

The systems are actually very similar to a Powers heavy Gurps game. Except I can create BESM characters in a single evening with an unfamiliar group. These key differences that make the game my go-to for universal genre role playing:

*2d6 roll over is the base mechanic. 3d6 is just awkward for me to predict chance on. Also roll over systems are much easier for me and my group to comprehend.

*Skills costs are different based on Genre/Setting (rather then how hard they are to learn in real life), with 10+ setting lists provided, including a Standard list. My main beef with Gurps is that a game breakingly high skill can often be much cheaper then a relatively useless skill. Combat skills should cost a lot for Dungeon Crawls, but be relatively cheap for bourgeois conspiracy.

* There's a much smaller list of skills

*Powers are based on their effectiveness, rather than whatever Gurps bases their powers on. You basically buy up the powers' attributes (anything can be a power: flight, laser eyes, a sword, rocket-skates etc.) in a much more intuitive and simple system.  


Since I play my games mostly in genre, realism is probably the worst thing a game can simulate for me. BESM 3e Tri-Stat easily scales up and down the crunchyness, where you can still play the game using only the 3 Base stats or dial all the way up to a near D&D 3e level tactical game.

I still like Gurps mind you, but not for what it promises on the tin.
The problem with Gurps is it is not actually a Universal system. Gurps is great for harder, more realistic games. I would absolutely Gurps up some StarCluster, True Crime, Lovecraft or any other setting that would do well with a bit more attention to detail, complexity and lethality.
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hgjs

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The trouble with GURPS
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2011, 02:49:18 AM »
Quote from: KrakaJak;444358
All of the issues I had with GURPS were solved in BESM 3e.


Huh, interesting.  I thought BESM 2e was a mess, so I walked away and never gave the line a second though.  Maybe it's time I took another look.
 

KrakaJak

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The trouble with GURPS
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2011, 03:19:10 AM »
Quote from: hgjs;444359
Huh, interesting.  I thought BESM 2e was a mess, so I walked away and never gave the line a second though.  Maybe it's time I took another look.

BESM 2 was not very good and BESM d20 was almost good (some parts were great and some were terrible). BESM 3e is one of my favorite games I own.

The print book is incredibly hard to find and going for very expensive prices...but DTRPG has it in pdf for $20. If there was a book they needed to make PoD, it's that one.
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David Johansen

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The trouble with GURPS
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2011, 09:55:01 AM »
BESM is effects based and doesn't do vehicles how I want them.

My complaint about GURPS Vehicles has more to do with the nitpicky stuff like buying seat belts, I still like the spreadsheet and calculator approach, I just think it shouldn't take so many pages and redesigns.

But yeah, I'm afraid powers won't be compatible.  My single biggest complaint about 4th edition is that GURPS is still pretty useless for superheroes.
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estar

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The trouble with GURPS
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2011, 11:09:02 AM »
Templates largely fixed the huge list of skills issue particularly for modern and science fiction games.  Although having useful ones for genres scattered throughout the line doesn't help but it isn't as bad as 3e was.

As for Powers, my opinion is that 4e fixed this.  My own experience in creation new abilities and following examples given in various e23 publications and on the forum found the whole system relativity straight forward.

My complaints about GURPS 4e not so much of system but rather of presentation.  I found the game itself is better designed and different levels of detail and complexity can be easily setup using the same set of rules.

It just for a novice you have wade through everything to get the stuff you want for a particular campaign. Not hard for somebody who been playing for decades like, myself, but for novice a major obstacle compared to competing system.

The big issues is still the d20 system.  For D&D style fantasy it provided the right level of complexity for customizing characters.  Through various class combination you can make any type of fantasy character you want.

The Open Game License meant that a family of related (although not exactly interchangeable) d20 games developed for different genres also negating on GURPS historical advantage.

Note that this impacted Hero Games as much as GURPS.

All of these meant that the flow of players looking for alternatives was effectively choked off for games like GURPS.  That it experiences a faster decline as shrunk not only due to the contraction of the market but relative to rival systems.

Kromm at SJ Game stated the design goal of GURPS in posts like this one.

http://forums.sjgames.com/showpost.php?p=874525&postcount=312

Quote
# SJ made an executive decision that GURPS would be a toolkit for adapting creative content from other games more so than a game with lots of creative content of its own.
# GURPS is generic, and doesn't have a preferred genre that unites most of its customer base.


My opinion that GURPS will continue to decline unless it has at least one avenue that a newcomer can buy and experience the system for one genre. The one genre I recommend is fantasy.  Otherwise the route for newcomers to GURPS is effectively choked off.

David Johansen

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« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2011, 02:01:08 PM »
The problem with templates is that they include options where they should have been a straight listing.  I have seen new players so frustrated by the templates that they walked away and wouldn't play GURPS ever again, far too many times.

It's just a worst possible solution thing.

Much like SJG's attitude towards GURPS as a product.
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danbuter

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The trouble with GURPS
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2011, 02:07:41 PM »
Steve Jackson is making far too much money with Munchkin to care about Gurps anymore. They've already stated that Munchkin takes precedence, in any kind of time or money crunch.

In addition, they are not going to publish a bestiary or monster manual for 4e (as stated by Dr. Kromm on his LJ). All monster support will be in the pdf format they've been pursuing for the last few years. I think this decision was the last nail in the coffin of the game. I don't think I can overstate the importance of a monster book for any game that is at least partially aimed at fantasy.
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David Johansen

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« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2011, 03:47:27 PM »
Honestly, the vibe I got from the last few print issues of Pyramid Magazine was that of a company that was pretty tired of roleplaying games.

And fourth edition has been such a lost opportunity to make things like super strength work right that it drives me up a wall.  Don't get me wrong, 4e made many excellent changes but there are some maddening design blind spots.

And the unwillingness to produce some honest to goodness introductory level support boarders on criminal (I submit that the game was MURDERED your honor).  The way I see the time line, they got the fourth edition out the door, Munchkin was hitting its stride and they just let GURPS trail off into oblivion.

I suspect the cover controversy left a bad taste in their mouths and some of the complaints about the internal art pounded nails into the coffin.
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estar

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« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2011, 05:37:14 PM »
Quote from: David Johansen;444427
The problem with templates is that they include options where they should have been a straight listing.  I have seen new players so frustrated by the templates that they walked away and wouldn't play GURPS ever again, far too many times.


I use templates but opted for more verbose. I had success with it but then I use a pregame as part of my campaign setup. I sit down with the player and hash out things with them so they aren't lost in the rulebook.

Here is one of them.
http://www.batintheattic.com/downloads/Gods%20-%20Set,%20Myrmidon%20Template.pdf