Grade the GURPS System

How do you feel about GURPS?

  • I love it.

    Votes: 21 14.0%
  • It's pretty good.

    Votes: 37 24.7%
  • It's alright I guess.

    Votes: 41 27.3%
  • It's pretty bad.

    Votes: 17 11.3%
  • I hate it.

    Votes: 7 4.7%
  • I've never played it.

    Votes: 27 18.0%
  • I've never even heard of it.

    Votes: 0 0.0%

DrunkonDuty

he/him
This method reminds me in a way of drama tokens in DramaSystem, at least w/rt forcing and blocking a force.

The thing I love most about DramaSystem though, and the part I have stolen for DFRPG/GURPS, is that you're forcing an emotional concession, not a practical concession. You can make the cold haughty king feel something towards you, but practical considerations might keep him from doing anything concrete. ("Almost I wish for your sake that I could free your husband, but politically I'm afraid it's impossible.") You can cleverly manipulate the Greedy dwarf into wanting your money, but whether he sells his wedding ring or his kids to you or not, well, that depends on roleplaying, not mechanics.

Interesting.

On the one hand, an emotional pay-off is good. It adds a cool dimension to the the game. And for many players would be a worthy thing in itself.

On the other hand, for many players not getting a practical result is equal to a failure.

Does the system allow for, or at least explain the potential for, some future pay-off? Either in a short term way, something like "The king is feeling some sympathy toward you. You may be able to get some concessions to him now, perhaps some sort of service for which the king release your husband."

Or something longer term; say in some future negotiation with the king this shred of sympathy grants you some bonus to your check.
 

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Interesting.

On the one hand, an emotional pay-off is good. It adds a cool dimension to the the game. And for many players would be a worthy thing in itself.

On the other hand, for many players not getting a practical result is equal to a failure.

(A) Does the system allow for, or at least explain the potential for, some future pay-off? Either in a short term way, something like "The king is feeling some sympathy toward you. You may be able to get some concessions to him now, perhaps some sort of service for which the king release your husband."

Or something longer term; say in some future negotiation with the king this shred of sympathy grants you some bonus to your check.
(A) In DramaSystem it's not really an issue because it's basically a game about having conversations with other players, a soap opera in game form--but yes, those conversations do tend to naturally open the door to practical influence.

"...but politically it's impossible" from the king could lead to a conversation about WHY it's politically impossible and who would object, which could lead to the original petitioner seeking out influencers. If you can somehow get everyone to WANT to help you, it probably won't stay politically impossible.

In the DFRPG/GURPS context this works okay too, but there's another benefit: the person who is in emotional turmoil (from the tension between his emotional state and his practical actions) is distracted and temporarily penalized, proportional to his disadvantage severity. You may not want to buy Mr. Dwarf's kids, but if your real goal is to get a good deal when you're haggling with him over the magical sword you want to sell him, it doesn't hurt at all if your unscrupulous slaver buddy was able to tempt his Greed first and unsettle his emotions, to give him a -2 on his Merchant skill against you. So, that's a payoff in and of itself.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
When I say not required, I mean not required. Emphasis on that there absolute term. Let's face it, DND has gone 50 years without having any meaningful sort of disad system. It seems to be doing fine. Personally I think any RPG can be enhanced by having disads. But that's me. I know players to whom this idea is anathema.

Wanted to respond to this, a bit more. I think the problem is that "required" is doing so much heavy lifting. After all, OD&D didn't have a skill system either (and in fact, about the only thing that distinguished two OD&D Fighting-Men during the pre-Greyhawk days was their equipment as far as mechanics goes). There's very little that an RPG system actually requires in mechanical definition.

But that doesn't mean a system that lacks certain things is doing a good job of defining the range of possible characters. D&D is fine at telling you a character is dumb or weak, but it can't tell you the character is hard of hearing or near-sighted, and those don't seem to me to be trivial things. I mean, I get some games are hostile to baking in psychological traits, but it seems to me once you're willing to define "weak" you should also be able to define "deaf" and its not like the game expects you to just roleplay the former, so why the latter?
 

But that doesn't mean a system that lacks certain things is doing a good job of defining the range of possible characters. D&D is fine at telling you a character is dumb or weak, but it can't tell you the character is hard of hearing or near-sighted, and those don't seem to me to be trivial things. I mean, I get some games are hostile to baking in psychological traits, but it seems to me once you're willing to define "weak" you should also be able to define "deaf" and its not like the game expects you to just roleplay the former, so why the latter?
Does the ability to define "deaf" require a disadvantage system? AD&D 2nd edition certainly includes the possibility of blind or deaf characters, and even has some support for mitigating some disadvantages via blindfighting proficiency, but I wouldn't say it has a system for disadvantages in the way GURPS does. AD&D physical disadvantages are ad hoc and defined in isolation; there aren't any rules linking them to metacurrency or offsetting benefits. It's just "now you have only one leg. Better get that fixed."
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Does the ability to define "deaf" require a disadvantage system? AD&D 2nd edition certainly includes the possibility of blind or deaf characters, and even has some support for mitigating some disadvantages via blindfighting proficiency, but I wouldn't say it has a system for disadvantages in the way GURPS does. AD&D physical disadvantages are ad hoc and defined in isolation; there aren't any rules linking them to metacurrency or offsetting benefits. It's just "now you have only one leg. Better get that fixed."

But again, if its necessary to have a system to show you're dumb (the Intelligence attribute) why is deaf different? Its a characterization factor, but its also something that can make the game play of the character harder, so if you just expect people to take it on a character without any reason but characterization, in the context of a game you've created a perverse incentive for doing so.

The reason GURPS (and more specifically the Hero System before it) had the construction of Disadvantages as they were was to offset that perverse incentive; to permit character defining flaws in a way that paid you back in mechanical terms, the same way it penalized you in mechanical terms. This was particularly desirable with superheroes (where various kinds of flaws are endemic) but it applies to a lot of the characters, where you want to encourage taking them, but its often a bridge too far to expect people to "die for their art" mechanically.
 

DrunkonDuty

he/him
@Thomas Shey

Mate, you're preaching to the choir here. I am very much of the opinion that disadvantages are advantageous to an RPG system.

But they're not necessary. No single mechanic is. RPGs come in many forms. They can be defined in many many ways.

You know, I only included that disclaimer at the head of my post to head of silly arguments of the "you don't need disads at all" type.

Peace out and game happy.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
@Thomas Shey

Mate, you're preaching to the choir here. I am very much of the opinion that disadvantages are advantageous to an RPG system.

But they're not necessary. No single mechanic is. RPGs come in many forms. They can be defined in many many ways.

You know, I only included that disclaimer at the head of my post to head of silly arguments of the "you don't need disads at all" type.

Peace out and game happy.

Oh, sure. My only point was that really, almost nothing we think of as basic character definition components is, even attributes. Cortex Prime's various build-cases kind of shows this.
 

aramis erak

Legend
No single mechanic is. RPGs come in many forms. They can be defined in many many ways.
There's one mechanic that is essential - that the player controls their character's attempted actions. That's fundamental to RPGs - not just tabletop/TotM, tabletop as a minis game or board game in RPG mode, in CRPGs... it's the essential definitional element. You control your character's attempts.

That advantages and disadvantages are rampant -- advantages are present in D&D 3E/4E/5E, in the form of Feats -- but what many don't realize is that, since the beginning, D&D has had a set of disadvantages. They just happen to be linked to race/ancestry/species in Pre-WotC D&D/AD&D... specifically the class level limits in both... and in classes in both pre-WotC and WotC flavors, in the form of weapon, armor, and treasure restrictions. And the effects of certain spells. Acquired in play doesn't make blindness any less a mechanically defined disad. (One of the few non-racial disads in AD&D 1&2; Lycanthropy is another.) But late 2nd, they came out with the Player's Option series - and Skills and Powers gave a full up point-build for 2E, and gives a lot of other elements - customization of class, But it does add a full disad and advantage system.

Almost all class and level games have some restrictions built into the classes, and many have them also in races. Not all by the same means. Some are purely mechanical - class level limits, unavailable classes, gear limits, aging rates...
Some are purely social or social backed up with XP bonuses - WEG Star Wars, for example. Wookies can't speak Basic. R2 units can't speak anything but binary. Gammoreans are always angry.
Some are discrete labeled limits - named disadvantages.

Most RP games have, at some level, formal restrictions due to restrictions in the rules. Formal systemization is a natural outgrowth of the omnipresence of limitations.
 

There are two elements that I have really enjoyed about the GURPS advantage and disadvantage system over the long haul. First is the ability to have character growth reflected in the mix. I've seen characters begin play with various disadvantages and then gain new ones and spiral into a bad place (bad for the character, but rewarding for the players). Likewise, I've seen players buy off disadvantages as their character learns to control themselves or visits the guru in the mountains or vanquishes their demons (sometimes literally). Sure, you can do all of this narratively without a "system," and I've enjoyed games like that, but I also enjoy when there's a mechanical structure to it.

The other element is the self-control rolls that were added in 4th edition. Most mental disadavantages have a self-control roll that you can call for when you'd prefer to resist your issue. The default roll is 12, meaning you'll succeed more often than not. You can adjust the cost of the disad by adjusting that roll up or down. A 15 means you'll resist nearly all the time. A 9, less so, and a 6 means you'll barely ever resist. Combining this with the character growth element mentioned above allows you to begin the game as a raging jerk with a Bad Temper roll of 6 or 9. As you evolve as a character, maybe you grow and adjust that to 12 and then 15. Then you might buy it off altogether, or leave it as a remnant of your old self that only makes an appearance rarely. Most of my players have found this quite fun in play.

I do agree with @FormerlyHemlock, though, that the disadvantage descriptions should be updated. I've always assumed they were written with a bit of hyperbolic flair; I never met anyone in person who ran them super-literally. But then I landed in an on-line game with a GM who absolutely stuck to the least generous interpretation of RAW. This wasn't fun because we were all a bunch of loonies. I quit the game, but I recognize that it is a flaw in the writing if it allows for that sort of nonsense.
 


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