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%


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Edgar Ironpelt

Adventurer
I was a big fan of GURPS way back in the day. How far back? I would call up the SJG BBS with my trusty Commodore 64, download messages, and make posts. I contributed in a small way to the system, and I remember the morning when I dialed up and got the "We were raided by the US Secret Service" message.

I've since had a falling-out with the system, partly over design philosophy, and partly because of what I saw as a hardening attitude that the only proper style for play on the more cinematic end of the scale is "silly." The disrespect shown to the genre by the GURPS Supers book could be called out as a separate factor as well.

I do still have a bookshelf full of (older) GURPS supplements. I also have a button that reads "I Was Denied Tenure At IOU."
 

Did self-control rolls not exist in 3E? That could actually explain a lot, if the trait descriptions are older than the self-control rules.

As @Staffan and @Willie the Duck pointed out, it was based on Will. This was one of those mechanics that made sense in theory, but didn't reflect reality at the game table. In fantasy games, the wizards and clerics rarely succumbed to their weaknesses while the fighters and barbarians were hopeless.

I like the new method where you can be strong-willed on many fronts but still have significant blind spots.
 

aramis erak

Legend
Did self-control rolls not exist in 3E? That could actually explain a lot, if the trait descriptions are older than the self-control rules.
3R 6th printing, page 93 - but there's an issue of terminology.
GURPS 3R p93 said:
When a character is faced with a frightening situation, or needs to overcome a mental
disadvantage, the GM should require a Will roll. Normally, Will is equal to IQ, so
this is just an IQ roll. However, if the character has the advantage of Strong Will (p. 23)
or the disadvantage of Weak Will (p. 37), the appropriate number of levels add to or
subtract from IQ. For instance, a person with IQ of 14, and 2 levels of Weak Will, has a
Will of 12.
Meanwhile, several mental disads refer to "self control" or "self-control"... not Will Rolls. Nor is there a lookup in the index for Self-Control, and self-control isn't a term usd in the Will rules.
Same page has the Fight rules, which are a subset of Will rolls. And, again, no "self-control"...

So, No, they're not new in 4th. They're just a bit more obvious in 4th.
 

aramis erak

Legend
It was instead roll willpower (sometimes IQ),
Not sometimes; will is a pseudo attribute of IQ modified by strong or weak will.
Note also: if IQ > 14, but has Weak Will, Will is 14-(Weak Will levels).
with anything 14+ automatically counted as a failure.
Note that one's will score CAN exceed 14; this is relevant because will can be negatively modified by various situations, and any IQ +strong will > 13 will result in a potentially higher target after situationals for a given single roll. So a guy with IQ 16 and Strong Will 3 modifies from an 19, then trims the result to 13 if still above 13. Such as him having Manaphobia... -0 for magic in the area, -3 for being targeted with friendly, or -6 if targeted by unfriendly. So Mr Will 19 needs a 13- on any manaphobia roll he makes while not otherwise impaired. But the IQ 16 guy needs a 13- on any in the area or allies targeting him, and a 10- if targeted by hostile wizards...
All the other GURPS GMs I've played under treated it as 15+ for autofail, not 14+... all three of them. And they played with each other.
I completely ignored the 14+, using only the default 17+ autofail. Largely because I was very sloppy towards the end of my era of GURPS fandom (which was 1E to very early 3e, not 3R. G:V was the beginning of the end for me. G:Ogre was the final straw. Battlesuit and Ogre were explicit the infantry were lobbing tacnukes, but G:Ogre was HV Railguns at damage levels that would knock the suit over.)
 
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Not sometimes; will is a pseudo attribute of IQ modified by strong or weak will.
Note also: if IQ > 14, but has Weak Will, Will is 14-(Weak Will levels).
You misunderstand. Sometimes the roll is a check against IQ, and not Will (regardless of its derivation, which yes is derived from IQ). See: Mental disadvantages (p.30)-- "Note to the GM: Many mental disadvantages permit the afflicted character to make IQ or will Rolls (p.93) to avoid the bad effects. In these cases, any roll of 14 or over still fails. Otherwise, very smart of strong-willed people would be almost immune to their own bad habits - which isn't the way life works!" Notably, Absent-Minded, Gullibility, Honesty, Overconfidence, and Split Personality all roll against straight IQ instead of Will, but still use the 14+ auto-fail. There's a number of other ones (such as the addictions and combat paralysis) which use HT (possibly modified by will) instead. It doesn't specifically state that these too automatically fail on 14+, but I suspect a lot of people inferred it to be the same (I probably checked the BBS for clarification back in the day, but don't remember if there was a ruling on it).
Note that one's will score CAN exceed 14; this is relevant because will can be negatively modified by various situations, and any IQ +strong will > 13 will result in a potentially higher target after situationals for a given single roll.
Yep, some of those situationals would be environmental, and others baked in (you are really ____phobic). Still, there was a sweet spot where most of the checks would be +/-0 to the roll. That, combined with +2-3 to a score being where it was still 10pts/level, almost everyone having some mental skills*, and some other odd rules nuances*, lead to a lot of combat-oriented characters** BitD to be a little smarter than average. Between the skills, minor perks, and being able to take a bunch of disadvantages with a ~16% chance of occurrence, it just felt like a smart buy.
*certainly in a modern+ setting
**such as a 12 IQ giving you +2 to effective gun skill
***in my personal experience, at the point when we were still optimizing to beat the band.


l
 

practicalm

Explorer
Not so with the actual mental disadvantage rules however, which are the same in DFRPG as in GURPS. The essence of the problem is that if you take a disadvantage with a self-control roll, such as Greed, you are required to reduce yourself to a one-dimensional caricature whenever you fail a self-control roll. If you're Greedy at more than the 1-point quirk level, then if someone offers you $100 to sell your children into slavery, and you roll poorly, you will do "whatever it takes to get the payoff, however illegal or ill-advised" even if it requires you to betray common sense and all your values, such as actually selling your kids into slavery for petty cash! The self-control roll rule is context-free and too simplistic. In practice nobody runs these rules as written, which is proof that they're broken.

A good fix that doesn't require metagame currencies is to just give the player a strong incentive to roleplay the given trait (such as a temporary but sizeable penalty to success rolls, from the distraction and guilt of secretly wishing you had that $100, after failing the self control roll but not selling your kids). That way players can still avoid irrational, insane behavior, and roleplaying remains coherent.
This is misinterpreting the Greed disadvantage significantly. The text says when riches are offered. Not when money is offered for anything. And it's relative to your wealth level so there is clear room on the amount of money that would indicate riches to someone. And it specifically calls out modifiers to the roll if you are honest if getting the riches would be illegal.
 

Voadam

Legend
I played some GURPS in the 80s, probably 1e or 2e. I did not get a core book myself until 3e. Mostly generic fantasy, I remember playing a goblin. Then I played some in the 90s in a non-fantasy post apocalyptic game as a guy with a baseball bat.

I got a bunch of 3e GURPS sourcebooks and used a couple specifics in my AD&D games, in particular cyberpunk and Cthulhupunk drugs as potions in one of my Ravenloft games. GURPS's 3d6 system mechanics translates to a d20 one well enough even though it is a bell curve to a straight even distribution. Most of the mechanics I used were intuitive matchups.

I really liked a lot of the sourcebooks. When I was working on an NIH study on regulation of human enhancement technology I was tempted to get the GURPS biotech book for consideration of some possible future uses. :)

I also was a contributing author on GURPS Magic Items 3 with some items designed for Technomancer and Celtic Myth and generic fantasy.

Mostly I consider GURPS as similar to D&D usind a 3d6 instead of a d20 but you have 10 hp and no level advancement, just point buy everything and advancing by a few points at a time.

The skill system is very granular, my preference is for broader skill systems. How many skills you need to execute a concept in GURPS can vary widely, while the system rewards extreme specialization and working out the math for optimization.

I dislike the scale of one second combat rounds with very high impact damage and little damage absorption, driving everything to be the quickest attacks you can desperately get off as opposed to cinematic duel combat. I remember concluding that if I were to run it I would only ever use the simple combat options and not the full one with facing and such.

The completely open point buy allows huge variance in PC combat ability with no real floor. A 200 point scholar is really not a match for an even 50 point thug opponent who spends their points on combat stuff. I prefer characters to be balanced for combat.

I did like that it had systems for increasing skills in downtime if you focused on them, more than just spend your xp as character points to improve them.

Mostly the skills had very little description about what a successful or failed roll meant, or how to use them, unless you got into specific sourcebook stuff like how to hack computers in GURPS Cyberpunk or what the modifiers are to alter someone's genome in GURPS biotech.
 

This is misinterpreting the Greed disadvantage significantly. The text says when riches are offered. Not when money is offered for anything. And it's relative to your wealth level so there is clear room on the amount of money that would indicate riches to someone. And it specifically calls out modifiers to the roll if you are honest if getting the riches would be illegal.
The text is clear that "Modifiers: -5 if the offer exceeds twice the cash you currently have on hand."

If you catch Mr. Dwarf at a moment when he's got very little cash on hand, e.g. after having a thief pickpocket his coin purse, not only can you trigger his self control roll but you can make him roll at a -5 penalty, no matter what is required to earn the payoff!

It's very exploitable and it turns Mr. Dwarf into a one-dimensional caricature.
 

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