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2014-05-10

Why GURPS?

Today, there are so many options for roleplaying game rule sets to choose from. Professionally produced products with high production value, smaller independent games funded through Kickstarter, and free games put out to the web for the world to enjoy...

When I started paying TTRPGs at the start of the 90s, there were far fewer options. There was only one game shop anywhere near where I lived and it's section was very limited. Still in those days I played D&D Basic Game, AD&D 2nd ed, Marvel Superheroes RPG, Cyberpunk 2020, Star Wars, Palladium Fantasy, Rifts, and probably a few more games that I only ever played once or twice.

Where it all began for me.

There were several other games that I bought but never had the chance to play such as Cyber-generation and Werewolf the Apocalypse. I'm sure that there were a lot more that I have forgotten.

During most of these early days, I didn't really evaluate rules. The games were the settings, and the rules were tailored to that. But then I found GURPS.

I first heard "gurps" mentioned by someone who was running a superhero game. I asked, "What's a gurp?," and was told that GURPS was an RPG system like any other. No big deal, but then months later I saw a copy of the Basic Set 3rd Edition, Revised (the old soft cover with the bubbles). After thumbing through it a bit, I decided to pick it up. The idea of a generic system was interesting. Once I really sat down and started to read the rules though, I was hooked.

I still have mine (but it is spiral bound now).
Img source: http://rpggeek.com/image/499293/gurps-basic-set-third-edition-revised

Over the years since discovering GURPS, I've played other games. Some mentioned above, others (Savage Worlds, Gamma World, D&D 3/4/Next, CoC, Fudge, and more) more recently. But I've always stuck with GURPS as my preferred systems. There were even times when I actively tried to embrace other systems as my "main" game, but for many reasons I've found them lacking.

First, I understand GURPS. I don't just mean that I know the rules, but that the rules are something that I "get." More than any other RPG I've played, the rules in GURPS make sense. Results are what I would expect in "real" world. This makes the game believable and interesting. Other games, by comparison, feel arbitrary and ... "false."

Next, is that GURPS boils down to a very simple set of rules. Yes there is a TON of rules covering all sorts of things... but at the core you can always just "roll 3d6 under skill". I choose to run the game with more options, because I want that greater level of detail. Honestly, there are very few major RPGs that I played that the "base-line" level of knowledge is LESS than GURPS.

Also, I can create the characters I want. Even in other "universal" systems I've always found that you are way too restricted, or that so much is hand-waved that characters are all pretty much the same. GURPS covers every aspect of a character and lets me detail the strengths and the flaws.

Then there is how GURPS adjusts to what I want to run. There are a lot of rules, but you shouldn't use all of them, and you shouldn't use the same ones for every game. Each time I run a game I can use rules that are tailored to that game, but still keep the baseline mechanics the same. This lets me run lots of games in different ways, but still not need to learn a whole new game.

Active Defense. I hate be a passive spectator to my characters being attacked, hit, taking damage, and dying. Sure this can happen in GURPS (critical hits), but that is the extreme, and would still get a chance to roll for survival.

"I can do that in GURPS!" I've said this to myself dozens of times. At the end of the day, that is what is all boils down to. I've never found another game that can do everything that GURPS can do, and I've never found a game that I couldn't do in GURPS. I don't mind playing other games, or even running other games from time to time, but I doubt I'll ever find one that works better for me than the Generic Universal Role Playing System.