GURPS anyone?

GURPS Basic Set When you browse through the RPGBN member blogs you read a lot about D&D 4th Edition, D&D 3rd Edition, old-school D&D (and all those retro-clones), Savage Worlds, White Wolf’s World of Darkness games and sometimes even about some obscure indie game. But curiously GURPS seems to be absent from the network.

From what I gather Steve Jackson Games is still one of the major RPG publishers and since they release new GURPS books regularly, I am pretty sure someone is buying their books, but it obviously plays only a minor role in the RPG blogosphere.

Did I just miss the GURPS-related posts or is GURPS on the decline?

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

20 thoughts on “GURPS anyone?”

  1. Just off the top of my head, I'd guess that the GURPS folks are just off in their own corner of the net, mostly communicating through SJG forums and their own webring(s). RPGBN is a community, but not the community.
    .-= Joshua´s last blog ..Kapow! Playtest Starting =-.

  2. Having played a lot of 3rd edition GURPs, I bought every 4th Edition book when it came out. I have to say I was disappointed. Not only were most of the non-core books decidedly short or rules (as much as 2/3+ color text and less than 1/3 devoted to material I could actually use in the crunch filled GURPS system), but the changes had decidedly flattened out the GURPS experience. It just didn't have that same feel. Throw in the fact that they've somehow decided that charts are bad, forcing you to dig through text laden passages to find rules, and it was a big downer.

    If I'd had more free time I might have analyzed what had changed the feel, but I'm really busy with life – and with so many great games to play I don't have time to figure out what broke in a game system. Thus ended our GURPs 4E campaign.

    And for what it is worth, rumor on the GenCon dealer's hall floor has it that the real money at SJG comes from Munchkin and related light gaming products – GURPs is a legacy product supported by those others.

  3. Yep, I think it's pretty both of those situations.

    I'm pretty sure that Munchkin is the big money maker for SJ Games.

    I think a lot of the GURPS dicussion takes place over at the SJG forums (sort of like Cortex is off in its own corner of the net).

    I've played GURPS at least a few times from 1st to 4th Edition. It's always been fun but felt really clunky and way too rules heavy. (Inside Joke: GM: What do you this turn? PC1: I raise to kneeling. GM: OK, nex.) GURPS Lite is great though and works better than the whole package. Just my two cents.

  4. I'd also lean in the direction of "GURPS People do their own thing". Their message board is very high-traffic and the GURPS community itself, while there are plenty of their own "edition wars", hasn't gone through the tectonic-shifting changes that D&D has over the years. As much as people gripe about the shift from GURPS 3rd to 4th edition, I'd say it's more like the shift in D&D from 1st to 2nd edition AD&D. The rules didn't change all that much, it was more a point of view that changed. But ultimately, you can compare a GURPS product from 20 years ago to a GURPS product from today and most of it's going to be at least roughly compatible.

    What D&D is now compared to what it used to be has shifted radically, and I also get the feeling that two or three years ago, 90% of the gaming blogs out there right now, didn't exist. But the SJG message board has been around for a long time, will continue to be around for a long time, and the online presence of GURPS will, if anything, probably only grow. Gygax's death and the "retro-clone movement" are what has fueled most of the gaming blogs I've seen in the last year and a half – there hasn't really been a catalyst event like that for GURPS, nor would I imagine there will be.
    .-= Badelaire´s last blog ..PAX Comes to Boston, March 26-28th =-.

  5. GURPS aficionados have had the SJGames online presence to gather around since the days of the Illuminati BBS. With that kind of long-running tradition, especially in a place with as short an active memory as the web, it makes sense there aren't as many GURPS-oriented blogs as, say, any of the flavors of D&D.

    Even when I tag one of my posts as GURPS, 99% of the time it's in relation to an adventure I'm running with the system, rather than about the system itself.
    .-= Tyler´s last blog ..Atlas Games Wants Your Unknown Armies Lunacy =-.

  6. I have tried GURPS before, but found it too cumbersome. For that reason, I've stuck to D&D and Savage Worlds. I think that Savage Worlds achieves what GURPS does not, but that really doesn't answer your question at all.

    I think GURPS has its following, but I think that for the vast majority of gamers GURPS and D&D do not cross over (since they are both reasonably complex and require a certain amount of involvement to REALLY know the rules). Hence, they hang out at other places.

    I, for one, would like to see more GURPS material from the RPGBN. I'd like to see some comparisons of GURPS and other systems, so that those of us who don't play can get an idea of why some other experienced gamers do.
    .-= Will´s last blog ..ODST Conversion v1.1 =-.

  7. I played GURPS exclusively from the mid-1980s through the late 1990s, playing 2nd and then 3rd editions.

    And I confirm from personal experience: we were an insular bunch — even before the advent of the internet.

    At game conventions, the you'd see all the same faces playing GURPS, and you'd rarely see those faces at any other games.

    Part of that may be the nature of the game system. Once you've taken the effort to learn it, it becomes your default system in whatever genre of RPG you want to play.

  8. Ya know…my wife and I played GURPS ALL. THE. TIME. back in the day — that is, from 2001-2004.

    After our daughter was born and we moved, we just never picked it up again.

    We still have all of our stuff; in fact, we've even ADDED to our GURPS library (no 4th Ed., though). Now and again we get the itch to play it, but never seem to scratch.

    When we try to figure out why that is, we just stare at each other with saucer-wide eyes, and our jaws work idiotically.

  9. As an active member of the GURPS forum, I would concur that most of its activities are isolated in the boards.

    Although by my observation, we have all the same sorts of gamer archetype's but in different proportions and with more unusual quirks.

    The crowd of gamers in GURPS are particularly different than in other crowds because you have large amount of simulationists (i among them) who are pretty much crazy about authenticity and accuracy.

    I don't know of any other large group of simulationist or realist styled gamers who prefer to play modern day complexities and theoretical complexities based on modern day trends. So I can be mistaken by my assumption.

  10. I was still very much a novice when I read about GURPS in one of the early issues of the single esoteric rpg magazine published in my gloomy eastern-european homeland. I remember that I found it odd that the system had no experience levels but the emphasis on skills sounded alluring almost more realistic than D&D ;). The article also glossed over a few settings which ranged from staple fantasy to more exotic – at lest to me at that time – space conquest with optional psionics (blimey!); that alone definitely piqued my interest.

    Few years later I had another memorable brush with GURPS, when I sat (as non-participating observer) through several sessions of Conan. All I can remember is that it was awesome. The setting book was detailed and a great read although being a huge fan of the Howard's stories sure was conducive to this opinion. Also back than that was pretty much the best option to play that setting – not the only one but the best for sure, and that meant a lot to me somehow. Anyhow, my early infatuation with simulationist rpgs was fuelled right there – miniatures, grid, action points – very fond memories.

    Later, in more civilized times I acquired the 3rd edition and a few setting books – I had already been impressed with the sheer number of options there. To me two settings turned out to be the most interesting: Illuminati and Terradyne (later swapped for Transhuman Space) but I have used at least several others as reference. GURPS is the original jack-of-all-trades system and whatever you want to play, there is a good chance there is a GURPS book for it.

    I agree with what's being said, the system remains fairly uncommon. I have seen only a handful of more obscure setting books here and there in the hobby shops but I don't think it's popular in Europe at all, and with Savage Worlds holding the universal system of choice mantle these days I dare think it will stay that way.

  11. GURPS readers are weird, since there are ultimately two camps – people who buy GURPS stuff to play GURPS, and people who buy GURPS stuff as sourcebooks for other material. The first group is plenty robust, but doesn't necessarily cross-pollinate a lot with the rest of the internet, and you can hardly blame them. Mention you like GURPs and it's apparently an invitation for people to talk about how awesome Hero or Savage Worlds or True20 is.

    The latter group is where you'll get more discussion of GURPs on the Internet at large, but that comes and goes in waves. It troughs when a new edition comes out because those are not the buyers who are interested in re-buying core material, but it spikes when a particularly interesting supplement comes out. Some historic notables have included Goblins, Screampunk and Horror.

    I'm pretty firmly in the latter group, and I admit that right this minute, none of the supplements are grabbing me (excepting the long-promised, finally arriving, GURPS Vorkosigan). There have been some great e-products (notably, Cops) but from my perspective this market has started getting chewed at from the edges by folks like Hero Games, whose genre books are filling much the same niche that GURPs books used to.

    Now, it's possible this is unfair of me – while it may look to me like there are fewer GURPS supplements for me (and possibly more for the core group), that may purely be an issue of perspective. But if so, it's a self-fulfilling one. The less it's talked about, the less it's likely to get talked about, and that's a bit of a shame.

    -Rob D.
    .-= Rob Donoghue´s last blog ..Because Monday Needs Cool Things =-.

    1. I think there's actually a third camp – people who buy GURPS stuff to run it but never actually play it. A couple of years back I bought a lot of GURPS 3rd Edition books and very much enjoyed reading them especially the supplements like GURPS Space, Ultratech etc.

      Alas I never played it. I always intended to use GURPS for some SF game but I always used simpler systems in the end.

      And I agree, that there are less and less interesting GURPS supplements coming out. I am not that interested in just another edition of GURPS Space, Fantasy, Magic etc. while a few of the true gems are hard to get or just available as PDF only. Some of the more interesting books where the aforementioned Screampunk, Cthulhupunk, IOU and a few others. And I am still eagerly awaiting the GURPS Girl Genius book.

  12. Unfortunately, the really interesting, non-mechanically-oriented GURPS releases have shifted almost entirely to the e23 store. That and they have become, on average, significantly shorter. The Infinite Worlds supplement Britannica-6 sets the bar at seventy pages, so far as I know.
    .-= Tyler´s last blog ..Phantom Diners =-.

  13. Hmm, I think I should definitely give GURPS a bit more love on my blog. I still have a lot of unused GURPS books on my shelf that I could put to good use that way. I believe GURPS is a pretty good system (perhaps a bit too crunchy) and it's definitely one of the major games out there.

  14. Yep, is really D&D heavy. I started adding my (mostly) GURPS-flavored feed a few months ago (oh, I see someone already mentioned it – thanks!). Would be great to see more GURPS bloggers join.

    Re the community: I hadn't thought about it much, but as many noted, the GURPS crowd does have a bit of an insular feel, doesn't it. Not in any isolationist or snooty way that I've ever seen; they just seem a bunch very pleased with and focused on their system, and happy with their main community outlets (SJG Forums, etc.).

    It's not hard to understand, IMO: For the gamer who's happy with GURPS' basics, the system offers more than enough genre books, settings, tech supplements, etc. to keep that gamer's eyes from straying (much).

  15. There is a bit of a decline, mostly because output for GURPS Hardover books dropped to one book for the whole year and paperbacks of the pdf books Mysteries, Supers and Spaceships were more or less rushed out near X-Mas to fill the gap.

    Not exactly a lot of GURPS stuff added to your FLGS since then. When the local game shop has little reasonto push the product, you see dropping off of interest.

    Online, a steady decline of GURPS related threads on boards like, (Not, that's something different) etc has two effects. 1) Less reasons for non-GURPS folks to have GURPS discussions and thus 2) less reason for GURPS players to join in.

    SJG employees have stated plainly that one thing they're doing is keeping the game going as a back up for Munchkin, should it's bubble burst. The GURPS pdfs appear to be pulling their own weight, financially, but perhaps not doing more than that. Which is a shame. There are some damn good things in the e23 library.

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