Archive for the “Pen and Paper Gaming” Category

SInce I hadn’t updated for a year and a half before the last post, I’d forgotten that people can and will respond. First, clearing this up:

  • I do not dislike GURPS. It’s the only tabletop RPG I play anymore, although I’ve checked out the rulesets for others. Yes, including the new kids on the block.
  • I  have been playing/GMing GURPS on and off for about 22 years, 32 if you count The Fantasy Trip, so I don’t personally find it too complicated. Man, that’s depressing.
  • I do believe that GURPS is too complicated for new players, and that this can be objectively proven. The proof is that potential customers say it’s too complicated.

I stand by the idea that GURPS is uninviting to new players. However, I think this can be fixed. Here are some ideas that grew out of the Reddit thread on the idea, plus some feedback from Gaming Ballistic’s followup. Note that unlike me, Douglas Cole updates regularly and therefore has readers, so it only makes sense that more feedback comes from there.

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Note: Unnecessary followup posted.

I like GURPS, but it has a problem.

Since I started poking around in RPG fora again recently, I see it all over the place. Some say it’s a perception problem; that doesn’t mean it’s not a real one. It usually boils down to this: GURPS is too complicated.

The common answer is: You don’t use every rule, just the ones you need.

Both of these statements are true. However, the real problem with GURPS is that people just can’t seem to get into it, particularly GMs, because of the complexity issue and the impracticality of the solution to someone brand-new to the game. How can we get people to try the game without getting buried under hundreds of pages of tables and umpteen zillion splatbooks? How can you tell a new player to just take the bits he needs when he’s already drowning in a sea of useless-to-his-campaign rules?

GURPS needs to be more accessible.

Here I’ll go over some observations and opinions, decrypt the awfulness of the GURPS ruleset and its presentation, ponder why GURPS is slowly making itself irrelevant (although I still like it), and then suggest simple ways for GMs to stop wasting time cutting out the clutter and get on with wasting time building a campaign that players probably won’t like anyway.

If you just want to know how to GM or be a new player of GURPS without all the rhetoric and hyperbolic venom, go straight to the TLDR. Warning: you will still be exposed to these things, but in a more manageable quantity.

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"Honey, I have an important announcement to make," I said, as I am wont to do when I am home with nobody else in earshot but Wen.

"Yes?" she tiredly asked.

"I am giving up on this whole F.A.T.A.L. exercise," I told her.


I really wanted to try and finish, but honestly this could be the first RPG "book" that has ever made me actively angry just by reading it.  And yes I know all about HYBRID.

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Continuing my exercise in self-loathing, I now continue generating my "character."  This starts with reading about a page’s worth of description regarding the inferiority of women in just about every imaginable way. Now, I won’t really debate the history of feminine perceptions and roles historically, but our hero Byron Hall throughout his so-called "book" ignores every perk and protection gained as the single most valuable factor in the population (namely, having a population at all) and goes right to the slavery, submission, rape^100, and fantasy elements of lonely disturbed little boys everywhere that would get them laughed right out of the Eulenspiegel Society, should they ever leave their basements.  But I digress.  On with our completely logical character generation system, which is mathematically superior and historically accurate.  THE DICE NEVER LIE.

Age: -2.6 years ((4d100=112)/5 – 25)

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Warning:  The game discussed in this post is NSFW, and probably NSFAnywhere.  It tops the charts of "Worst RPG Ever," even beating out the reprehensible "Racial Holy War," which is an unfinished and unplayable game about inbred white supremacists gunning down ethnic stereotypes (if there were any actual combat rules).  If you don’t care about tabletop RPGs, this will probably not interest you.  If you are actively anti-RPG, I recommend you simply go watch Mazes and Monsters again.  I cannot possibly review it… well, maybe I will later, but it’s already been done in epic style, with a similarly epic response from the game "designers."

Instead, I’m going to try and create a character for it.

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Geeks ahoy.

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This totally derivative adventure is blatantly based on the G1 module by Gary Gygax for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (the good edition). Like the original, it promises a flimsy premise and much slaughter. Characters may be of any type, and technically of any number, although 3-6 is suggested.

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…Nothing appears quite right to you.  The air itself is electric and unnatural, not charged with life, but blurred, as if this part of the world has been neglected by a forgetful god.  As you turn your head objects seem to disappear even before they leave your field of vision and return lazily, clumsily, slowly coming in focus as you try to catch their disappearance.  You see flashes of places you have never seen, sights and sounds that are always gone when you clear your head to attempt to focus on them.  Even your life seems hollow and stale in the same way; you have been attempting to solve a mystery that has no end, only continuing threads of leads that loop back upon themselves and lead nowhere.  Logic itself seems absent.  And then, again, there it is!  That recurring scene, the one you keep seeing, the tired or dying man lying on a divan.  His face looks familiar, as if you have seen it in a dream or another life.  Beside him, out of focus, is a strange blockade or screen set upon a table.  You somehow need to know what lies behind it, as if the answer to so many mysteries is behind that shimmering screen…

Welcome to The Shimmering Screen, a reality warping adventure that will test your player’s creative skills.  Tired of the same old cliched RPG plots?  Watch the players attempt to solve the ultimate mystery, one that strikes at their hearts more than they’d care to admit…

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