Category Archives: GURPS

The Fantasy Trip

Into The Labyrinth D&D is not the only roleplaying game that evolved from miniature combat games. Steve Jackson’s GURPS actually is based on “The Fantasy Trip”, a roleplaying game that itself evolved from Metagaming’s Melee and Wizard combat games. All these games had been designed by Steve Jackson, too.

Back in 1977 Metagaming released Melee a fast-playing man-to-man boardgame. Melee actually laid some of the basics for some of the GURPS rules. Each character had a Strength (ST) and Dexterity (DX) attribute back then. Strength was a measure of what weapons a character could use and how much damage he could inflict and take during combat. Dexterity determined the chance of hitting your opponents. Armor reduced the amount of damage taken.

When in 1978 Wizard was released, it added magic rules to Melee and another attribute was introduced: Intelligence (IQ). A high IQ attribute allowed characters to cast magic spells. Spellcasting caused temporary ST damage, limiting the amount of spells that could be cast. All this sounds already very much like what we know from GURPS.

In 1980 the third book in the series, In the Labyrinth, was released which finally turned Melee/Wizard into a fully-fledged roleplaying game. Melee and Wizard were rereleased as Advanced Melee and Advanced Wizard which together with In the Labyrinth formed the basis of “The Fantasy Trip”.

In TFT each character had three attributes: Strength, (ST), Dexterity (DX) and Intelligence (IQ). IQ was however not only important for spellcasters, but for other characters, too, because of the introduction of a point-based skill system.

1980 Steve Jackson left the company and the owner of Metagaming decided to close down the company just three years later. Today, TFT, the spiritual predecessor of GURPS is long out of print, but recently Dark City Games have released some rules inspired by TFT:

All those PDFs are available for free and from what I’ve seen are pretty close to the original TFT. I also stumbled upon another tribute site to TFT that also features some nice paper models and a TFT Wiki.

I have to admit that I actually never heard of TFT before I started to do some research on GURPS recently and I was actually surprised that a) the game looks that much like GURPS already and b) that there are not more retro-clones of TFT. Or did I miss anything?

So, what are your thoughts on “The Fantasy Trip”? Have you actually played the game back in the day and would you like to play the game even today?

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?

Girl Genius!

Agatha is heterodyning!
Agatha is heterodyning!

This month’s blog carnival hosted by Mad Brew Labs is about Steampunk & Klokwerks. Steampunk is (as you probably know) one of my favourite genres and so it’s no surprise that I wanted to contribute the blog carnival. But for almost a whole month I couldn’t come up with something to write about. But then something finally “sparked” in me.

When someone asks me what Steampunk is, I usually don’t give lengthy descriptions of all the aspects that make the Steampunk genre, I just show off one of my Girl Genius books. Girl Genius is the definitive steampunk comic series of our times. It has it all: Adventure, Romance, Mad Science. And it’s written and drawn by Phil and Kaja Foglio, the people responsible for my favorite cartoon back from the days, when the Dragon Magazine was still in print: “What’s New with Phil & Dixie?”.

So, what is Girl Genius about? It’s the story about Agatha Heterodyne, heir to the famous Heterodyne family and a powerful Spark. Sparks are that what you would call a “Mad Scientist”. And when she’s building some strange contraption she actually acts pretty mad, but in most cases she is pretty benevolent. Alas not all Sparks are as nice as she is and a couple of years back, an evil Spark called “The Other” has attacked and only the Heterodyne Boys (Agatha’s dad and uncle) and Baron Wulfenbach could save Europe from being conquered by the “Other”. But today, the Heterodyne Boys are missing and Baron Wullfenbach rules the land with an iron fist. But since the series has been created by the Foglios you can expect a lot of weird humor. So, Girl Genius may not be your cup of tea if you like it dead-serious.

Dingbots to the rescue!
Dingbots to the rescue!

You can actually read all the stories about Agatha for free on the web. At Kaja and Phil Foglio release a new Girl Genius episode every second day or so.

A long time ago, the Foglios and Steve Jackson Games announced a Girl Genius RPG based on the 4th Edition of the GURPS rules, but alas the book isn’t out yet and I fear it could take some more months (or even longer) until we can finally get our hands on an actual copy. But don’t despair. There’s already a very nice GURPS Steampunk book. So, if you are into GURPS, you could pick up a copy of GURPS Steampunk and probably create a homebrew Girl Genius RPG.

Another alternative is Savage Worlds. Savage Worlds is one of the few RPGs that comes with Steampunk support built-in. One of the Arcane Backgrounds is Weird Science, an edge that allows characters to come up with all kinds of nice gizmos.

The power level of a newly created Weird Scientist in Savage Worlds may not be on par with a full-blown Spark in the Girl Genius world, but it’s not something you can’t fix.

RPG Blog Carnival

While doing some research on Girl Genius I stumbled upon a pretty extensive Girl Genius wiki which includes a lot of background information on the setting. I also found a pretty complete Savage Worlds conversion on Emiricol’s Wikispace. I am pretty convinced you could pull off a GG campaign with “vanilla” Savage Worlds alone, but if you are looking for inspiration, it doesn’t hurt to have a look at this conversion. So, that concludes my contribution to this month’s blog carnival. As always I am interested in your thought? Have you ever thought about running a GG-inspired game? Are you waiting for the GURPS version or are you running a homebrew campaign?