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[GURPS] Looking for some help from GURP experts

StreetBushido

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I've long been interested in GURPS. It seems incredibly flexible and can be adjusted to work for all kinds of ideas. And even its complexity can be tuned from highly detailed/granular to almost rules-lite.

And I'm making this thread because I think GURPS could be the system in which I could run an idea I've been nursing for a long while. Imagine High Fantasy Wild West or perhaps something like the videogame Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura. In short a setting in which you have both Industrial Era technology and magic! A bit like a less technologically advanced Shadowrun.

I want to be able to run a game where you have gunslinging dwarves; elven warlocks; a railway being built across plains populated by nomadic centaur clans; people gambling their souls away to win great magical power; dragons being upset that people are coming at them with guns and dynamite; spirit-haunted forests being chopped down to fuel the big factories; adventuring inventors that create strange and interesting tools. All that cool jazz.

There are probably systems out there that are decently close to this vision as they are, but I'm thinking that this idea is a way for me to explore GURPS with a fixed perspective. Rather than just jumping into the system and trying to make sense of it I think that having a clear idea to aim towards could help give my explorations of GURPS a bit of direction.

Is it possible to successfully realize this idea in GURPS without it turning into an overly complicated, incoherent mess? Is it possible to realize this idea without introducing an (in my opinion, of course) overly high level of crunch?

Which books would be useful for this setting idea?
 

AndrewTBP

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You'll want to start with Magic for the warlocks.
I recommend Horror and Mysteries because they're fantastic resources for the GM.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
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It's certainly possible and even fairly easy. However, I strongly recommend that you first play a short mini-campaign or a one-shot with something simple such as Dungeon Fantasy to familiarize yourself with the system - building a custom framework for your first GURPs game might result in problems you didn't see coming.
 

StreetBushido

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You'll want to start with Magic for the warlocks.
I recommend Horror and Mysteries because they're fantastic resources for the GM.
Thanks for the tips. I actually have Horror because I saw it recommended so much as a generally and basically system-agnostic GM resource. Is Mysteries the same deal, then? That it's just a generally good book on the topic of mysteries and how to use them in games?


It's certainly possible and even fairly easy. However, I strongly recommend that you first play a short mini-campaign or a one-shot with something simple such as Dungeon Fantasy to familiarize yourself with the system - building a custom framework for your first GURPs game might result in problems you didn't see coming.
Thanks for the reply! And you're probably right. I was thinking that diving into the deep end would force me to really figure out what the deal is with GURPS. But it's probably better to ramp things up a bit more smoothly.

What does one need to run Dungeon Fantasy? Aren't there a ton of books for that particular "series"?
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
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The Dungeon Fantasy Boxed Set or PDFs would be a good start. Alternatively the Basic Set, GURPS Magic, and the first two GURPS Dungeon Fantasy PDFs.
 

zorg

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In my opinion, Gurps Magic is a fabulous waste of money, unless you want exactly the spells-as-skills approach as the Basic Set. Wizards using this system tend to have a lot of spells, which makes them unwieldy both for the player and the GM. Personally, I find most of the spells rather pedestrian, though that‘s a matter of taste, of course.

In my opinion, Gurps Powers offers way more bang for the buck: you can use Powers not only to design a Magic system, but to add faerie powers, spirit abilities, critters with toxic blood, and so on. Powers maximizes the flexibility which is Gurps‘ strength.

The best approach, I think, would be to start out with the Basic Set, and nothing else. Only add more books when you really feel the need.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
GURPS Powers is... basically "the book I never realized I needed, but now don't want to do without" when it comes to GURPS. It's a customizer's dream.

Even then, it might be worth looking at some "worked examples" to get an idea what you can do with GURPS Powers, such as Sorcery or Psionic Powers.

But that should wait for later. The first step is trying out something simple. Once you are familiar with the system basics you can get as fancy as you want.
 

dbm

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I've long been interested in GURPS. It seems incredibly flexible and can be adjusted to work for all kinds of ideas. And even its complexity can be tuned from highly detailed/granular to almost rules-lite.
It definitely can be used from at different levels of ‘zoom’ and (even better, in my opinion) you can zoom in on different bits to change the emphasis in a specific game you want to run.
And I'm making this thread because I think GURPS could be the system in which I could run an idea I've been nursing for a long while. Imagine High Fantasy Wild West or perhaps something like the videogame Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura. In short a setting in which you have both Industrial Era technology and magic! A bit like a less technologically advanced Shadowrun.
Genre mash-ups are definitely a strength of the system, though it can also go wrong*. Like the others suggest, keeping it relatively simple first-time-out will help you internalise some the system assumptions so you can do more radical campaigns in the future.
There are probably systems out there that are decently close to this vision as they are, but I'm thinking that this idea is a way for me to explore GURPS with a fixed perspective. Rather than just jumping into the system and trying to make sense of it I think that having a clear idea to aim towards could help give my explorations of GURPS a bit of direction.
This (having a pretty clear campaign concept) is one of the best ways of approaching GURPS, so you are definitely giving yourself the best opportunity to ‘get it’!
I want to be able to run a game where you have gunslinging dwarves; elven warlocks; a railway being built across plains populated by nomadic centaur clans; people gambling their souls away to win great magical power; dragons being upset that people are coming at them with guns and dynamite; spirit-haunted forests being chopped down to fuel the big factories; adventuring inventors that create strange and interesting tools. All that cool jazz.

Is it possible to successfully realize this idea in GURPS without it turning into an overly complicated, incoherent mess? Is it possible to realize this idea without introducing an (in my opinion, of course) overly high level of crunch?

Which books would be useful for this setting idea?
First, almost everything you need to run the game you describe is included in the two core books (Characters and Campaigns). These have the core rules (naturally), a selection of equipment that would be appropriate (flintlocks or revolvers etc. depending on which time period you settle on) and a stripped down magic system. It also has some example creatures that you might come across.

To flesh out your game, you might want to pick up other books that add more pre-built stuff. The true strength of GURPS is that the chassis is super robust and flexible, so if you make something with the tools it provides you will get pretty close with your initial attempts and then can zero in with some refinement. That doesn’t necessarily make this super-easy for the new GURPS GM, though, and there can be a non-trivial amount of setup needed if your idea is quite bespoke (as opposed to just putting together big chunks of existing stuff).

The closer you are to our ‘real world’ assumptions the easier it is to create something in GURPS, and what you describe sounds like it would be based on a time period then have fantastical stuff added in. As you have already identified yourself, at least this kind of tech+fantasy avoids the net running question which can be tricky.

The biggest question you would need to answer for your game is: how do you want magic to work? GURPS has multiple magic systems that have been written for it, and there are tools to produce more.

The ‘base’ magic system (introduced in Characters) is commonly known as ‘magic as skills’ and is greatly expanded in the Magic book. It promotes a very scholarly view of magic where, before learning to cast fireball, you would need to learn to cast a spell which creates fire, and before learning that you would learn how to ignite something (as opposed to creating fire out of nothing...) and so on.

There are other books on magic that treat it more free-form, like Ars Magica might (but with a different set of parameters, Ritual Path Magic is its own thing) or more where mages have a very defined and individual set of magics they can employ (Sorcery in GURPS system parlance).

So, in summary to your question: start with Characters and Campaigns. Pick a magic system that sounds closest to what you would like (tell us more and we can help refine that, I’m sure) and you are pretty much good for the start. I would also recommend How to be a GURPS GM. This gives lots of practical wisdom on how to run the system. Think of it as the ‘community-written but officially endorsed’ DMG for GURPS.

As you play the game and want more content in a specific area you can either make it yourself, if you would find that fun, or you can buy one of the expansion books to either tailor or use as-is.

*In my opinion, GURPS has three axes that you can use to mechanically express a character (ignoring Stats for the purposes of this): advantages, skills and equipment. The tricky bit with GURPS is that, for example, some magic systems treat magic as skills, whilst other use advantages. Similarly, equipment can be expressed ‘as is’ or alternatively can be built using advantages. You start to run into issues when there are multiple options all in parallel.

Is a character with skills-based magic as effective as one with powers-based? Is a character with money-bought equipment as capable as one with equipment defined as advantages? The ultimate tough comparison is skills-magic versus bought-equipment in my opinion.

To be sure, the designers have done a fantastic job and it’s all pretty close, but it isn’t perfect and you can get caught in rough edges if you are unlucky or you like to push a system really hard.

By keeping to {core + one power set} you will give yourself the easiest and smoothest initial play experience. Once you are happy with that, increase the complexity.
 

MrTim

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Yeah, this could fairly easily be done with the Basic Set. If you wanted to deep dive, for your idea I'd recommend High-Tech (for guns, trains, and other 19th-century tech), Fantasy (for world-building advice), and either Magic or Thaumatology (Magic if you want to use the stock magic system, Thaumatology if you want something different). Plus maybe Dragons (for dragons) and/or Powers (for building customized magical abilities).
 

Aaron819

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Validated User
In my opinion, Gurps Magic is a fabulous waste of money, unless you want exactly the spells-as-skills approach as the Basic Set. Wizards using this system tend to have a lot of spells, which makes them unwieldy both for the player and the GM. Personally, I find most of the spells rather pedestrian, though that‘s a matter of taste, of course.

In my opinion, Gurps Powers offers way more bang for the buck: you can use Powers not only to design a Magic system, but to add faerie powers, spirit abilities, critters with toxic blood, and so on. Powers maximizes the flexibility which is Gurps‘ strength.

The best approach, I think, would be to start out with the Basic Set, and nothing else. Only add more books when you really feel the need.
GURPS Thaumatology: Sorcery adds I to the magic as powers idea, and even has a working magic item creation system for it.
 
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