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%

practicalm

Explorer
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.
If you are going to twist the language to abuse this disadvantage then there won't be a way to stop you from abusing anything written down.
Cash on hand doesn't have to mean in their physical possession. Should count savings, bank accounts.
 

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If you are going to twist the language to abuse this disadvantage then there won't be a way to stop you from abusing anything written down.
Cash on hand doesn't have to mean in their physical possession. Should count savings, bank accounts.

While I have always used a much looser interpretation of disadvantages, I do like @FormerlyHemlock's house rule:
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 entirely congruent with the spirit of the rules and gives the player additional agency. Seems like a no-brainer to me.
 

If you are going to twist the language to abuse this disadvantage then there won't be a way to stop you from abusing anything written down.
Cash on hand doesn't have to mean in their physical possession. Should count savings, bank accounts.
You're arguing the specifics of what counts as a lot of money, not the primary point that the rule, as presented and interpreted literally*, creates a caricature of a real flawed/limited person. *which, honestly, is not 'twist[ing] the language' -- you may disagree on what 'should' count, but that's a disagreement between you and FormerlyHemlock, not them twisting or abusing (FWIW, I take from context that they are framing this in a fantasy milieu, where cash-on-person more likely can be total-cash).

Regardless, I think Absent Minded (3e) is perhaps a better illustration, having less required interpretation. It goes, "The classic disadvantage for eccentric geniuses. You have difficulty paying attention to anything not of immediate interest. An absent-minded person suffers a -5 penalty to any IQ roll except those for a task he is currently interested in and concentrating upon. If no engaging task or topic presents itself, his attention will drift to more interesting matters in five minutes; he will ignore his immediate surroundings until something catches his attention and brings him back. Once adrift in his own thoughts, an absent-minded character must roll against IQ-5 in order to notice any events short of personal physical injury." Now, that's certainly something one might want to roleplay, and maybe what is required to justify the -15 point value*, but it's also definitely the children's cartoon version of what having an attention disorder is like. *between here and the Hero System discussion, I think I've made my position clear on exactly how credible I take the notion of the point system really meaning anything non-tautological.
 
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Now, that's certainly something one might want to roll-play, and maybe what is required to justify the -15 point value*, but it's also definitely the children's cartoon version of what having an attention disorder is like. *between here and the Hero System discussion, I think I've made my position clear on exactly how credible I take the notion of the point system really meaning anything non-tautological.
I think Steve Jackson would agree with you about the point system: it's an artificial market economy intended to shape PC distributions, nothing more.

I get the sense that Kromm might disagree, based on his advice to GMs to ensure that disadvantages are triggered regularly, while still agreeing that Steve's original 1E design is very much NOT oriented towards points measuring utility.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I think Steve Jackson would agree with you about the point system: it's an artificial market economy intended to shape PC distributions, nothing more.

I get the sense that Kromm might disagree, based on his advice to GMs to ensure that disadvantages are triggered regularly, while still agreeing that Steve's original 1E design is very much NOT oriented towards points measuring utility.

As best I can tell, the original GURPS point scheme was trying to serve too many masters--utility, frequency, difficulty and occasionally genre support--all at once, and is kind of the dog's breakfast you'd expect from that.
 

If you like an extremely complex TTRPG you will probably like it. For me it was too much -- I didn't understand it and didn't like playing it.
 

If you like an extremely complex TTRPG you will probably like it. For me it was too much -- I didn't understand it and didn't like playing it.

From a GM's perspective, I think this is fair. GURPS has a lot of moving parts and a nigh-infinite array of options and switches.

As I mentioned somewhere upthread, though, GURPS can also be very welcoming for new players with an experienced GM. I've found this particularly true with players new to RPGs altogether. I routinely run one-shots with new folks, ranging in age from 6 to 60+. Whereas I've had newcomers bounce off of D&D's more abstract systems (hit points, character classes, Vancian magic, etc.), I can't remember a new player who had any difficulty grokking a pre-generated character and getting into the swing of things with GURPS. The system is pretty friendly to a "describe what you want to do" approach. They see a nice list of skills on the sheet. Disadvantages and Quirks are evocative handles for roleplaying. Etc. This was one of the reasons that I turned to GURPS in the first place.

Things get more difficult rapidly if you want new players to generate their own characters. Even with templates (pseudo-classes), it's a complex process. If I'm not using pre-gens, I always create characters in tandem with my new players so that they can focus on the big picture without getting lost in the weeds of calculating swing damage and whatnot.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
From a GM's perspective, I think this is fair. GURPS has a lot of moving parts and a nigh-infinite array of options and switches.

As I mentioned somewhere upthread, though, GURPS can also be very welcoming for new players with an experienced GM. I've found this particularly true with players new to RPGs altogether. I routinely run one-shots with new folks, ranging in age from 6 to 60+. Whereas I've had newcomers bounce off of D&D's more abstract systems (hit points, character classes, Vancian magic, etc.), I can't remember a new player who had any difficulty grokking a pre-generated character and getting into the swing of things with GURPS. The system is pretty friendly to a "describe what you want to do" approach. They see a nice list of skills on the sheet. Disadvantages and Quirks are evocative handles for roleplaying. Etc. This was one of the reasons that I turned to GURPS in the first place.

Things get more difficult rapidly if you want new players to generate their own characters. Even with templates (pseudo-classes), it's a complex process. If I'm not using pre-gens, I always create characters in tandem with my new players so that they can focus on the big picture without getting lost in the weeds of calculating swing damage and whatnot.

As an entirely anecdotal note, my wife (who is reasonably comfortable with medium-to-heavy crunch games, but had not played it before) picked up on a GURPS game at one convention we went to with little trouble. It can be argued the specifics of her character did not involve anything excessively complex, but it does at least suggest that its not intrinsically difficult to learn to just play GURPS.
 

Things get more difficult rapidly if you want new players to generate their own characters. Even with templates (pseudo-classes), it's a complex process. If I'm not using pre-gens, I always create characters in tandem with my new players so that they can focus on the big picture without getting lost in the weeds of calculating swing damage and whatnot.

We created our own characters the first time I played GURPS. To make matters worse, I am caster obsessed and insisted on making a caster. I realize that was my choice but it was what I wanted to play. The character creation process took many, many hours and gave me a headache. Only one player was experienced with the system so we just stumbled through. I thought maybe a light bulb might turn on after a few months of play but it did not. It is difficult for me to offer specific criticisms because it was a long time ago (2009) and I never understood the game, lol. But some of the group eventually did catch on. After the campaign ended, the player with previous GURPS experience is the only person who ever voiced a desire to play it again.

I learned that medium-crunch systems like Savage Worlds or 5E are better for me. Something like TORG Eternity is about as crunchy as I like to get. I have avoided Pathfinder 2 for this reason.
 

As best I can tell, the original GURPS point scheme was trying to serve too many masters--utility, frequency, difficulty and occasionally genre support--all at once, and is kind of the dog's breakfast you'd expect from that.
Kromm says that Steve Jackson denies the utility aspect, at least. The quote is upthread.

I think later GURPS editions have tried much harder to align on utility, and the resulting community discourse around trying to find the "right" point values for magic spells or high tech equipment is very much not to my taste. I.e. I think the original GURPS design goals you're throwing shade at here were perfectly fine.
 

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