Grade the GURPS System

How do you feel about GURPS?

  • I love it.

    Votes: 21 13.9%
  • It's pretty good.

    Votes: 38 25.2%
  • It's alright I guess.

    Votes: 41 27.2%
  • It's pretty bad.

    Votes: 17 11.3%
  • I hate it.

    Votes: 7 4.6%
  • I've never played it.

    Votes: 27 17.9%
  • I've never even heard of it.

    Votes: 0 0.0%


Yet they gave the different features point costs. If those are not meant to balance anything, why give them different costs?
In the context of RPGs, balance is usually referring to combat abilities or the ability to affect the game world. When they designed GURPS, they weren't concerned with balance in that sense. The cost of skills are based on how difficult they are to learn not how useful they are in a particular game. The only balance to the points is to have a baseline for the players. i.e. You all have 50 points to spend on your characters. Hopefully the GM and the players all understand what the campaign is all about so nobody buys any skills that won't be used.

I found that the design parameter that makes difficult skills cost more - while realistic - will hurt a PC in a game that doesn't require these skills.
Why would the player choose a skill the PC doesn't need? If I'm playing a hard boiled 1970s era cop, I'm not going to take Physician as a skill because it's not going to be all that useful.

Definitely a book that was interesting to flip through and realize I had long passed the limit of crunch I cared for in an RPG system.
Admittedly that's where I am. I just don't want to mess with it.

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GURPS was the 3rd TTRPG I played as a kid, after red box D&D and TMNT. I remember playing some kind of spy game but since my cousin and I were around 9 at the time, his older brother running the game handled all the mechanics and just let us explain what we wanted to do. We thoroughly enjoyed it, but we were pretty easy to please kids at the time.

9 year old me loved it or at least loved the idea of pretending to be a spy. :ROFLMAO: No idea what I'd think of it now so I didn't vote.


I really like GURPS, it's a system that pretty much does what it says on the tin. It handles a lot of genres/settings very well but there are some rough edges. The 3rd edition sourcebooks are amazing resources and I've been using them for decades for both GURPS and other games.

The downside for actually running GURPS is the GM needs to do a lot of work putting a game together. There's also a lot of choice paralysis building characters.


A suffusion of yellow
GURPS rules were okay for the time but not the easiest to handle and the volume of advantages and disadvantages in its point buy made it mindboggling at times.

However the greatest thing about GURPS and why I loved it was the shear number andrange of well researched Settings Books which provided advice and overviews on everything from prehistoric to detective fiction to fantasy to superheroes to police procedurals.
As a distracted undergrad student I’d spend hours just reading books that I nev3r intended to play just to learn new stuff. I still have an abiding love for GURPs Cliffhangers, Swashbucklers, Scarlet Pimpernel and Ice Age. indeed I think my first intro to Steampunk was via GURPS too
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Staff member
I gave it an “Alright” rating.

I found Champions/HERO long before GURPS, so when I finally wound up playing it, it didn’t match my expectations for being a toolbox system. But I still had fun playing it.

I started playing GURPS in an Austin based group (with certain players connected to SJG) while I was attending law school in the early 1990s. It was one of the 3 systems we played most, alongside D&D and HERO. Their SJG connection meant we got to playtest some GURPS products, as well as some other RPG designs that were being kicked around those offices. Even though the game itself wasn’t my taste, we played enough that I really needed to have the base book to work with.

And that led to me buying certain sourcebooks (like Martial Arts) because of the depth and breadth of the work done to create them. I still have those sourcebooks (and the main book) to this day, and even use them occasionally for inspiration.

aramis erak

He didn't build it in a vacuum, though. GURPS borrowed mechanics and ideas from other game systems like the Hero System and Champions, and the whole project benefitted from all the different RPGs and setting books being released at the time. So exactly who came up with the idea for a "generic universal game system," and what resources and inspiration they used, is always going to be a matter of some debate.
GURPS was grounded firmly in The Fantasy Trip, Steve Jackson's own earlier game. GURPS added the 4th stat (HT), and makde skills operate like narrow attributes (where TFT, they typically removed difficulty dice). TFT was already a multi-pool point builder. One pool for attributes being raised from base, and another (equal to IQ) for spells and/or Talents.

SJ has admitted that the GURPS point system was cribbed from Champions, but it's not a foreign idea brought in, as much as a better implementation of an idea SJ had in 1977...

At one point, I'd have rated it a B+ or even A- - but that was fall 1986. My opinion of it has steadily grown downward. It's not that the game itself is bad, it is that the player culture has grown in a direction I seriously don't like engaging with.

Likewise, per Roleplayer Issue 1, 1st ed GURPS was setting point costs by hours needed to learn it to a specified level. (I'm in too much pain to go dig out my G1e box). IIRC it was 250 hours per point.

Later, it was moved towards (but not achieving moving to) balance rather than training. It's been incoherent ever since, and this enables a good bit of fan min-max.

I prefer TFT by far. That said, I don't find GURPS appealing for multiple reasons -
1) the costs are too complex
2) the skill list is WAY too long. (counting the full list in C2, over 200 discrete skills, not counting TL/ variations
3) the combat mechanics are too crunchy in the wrong places for me
4) The setting books usually bend the settings to fit GURPS, rather than GURPS to fit the settings. The exceptions tend to be earlier. The most egregious was the Ogre setting book... the prior games and short stories all had the infantry (and all the vehicles) lobbing nukes, but the GURPS: Ogre book removes infantry tac-nukes... of the setting books, this one SJG had every right to retcon,,, but it was a betrayal of 20 years established fiction for compliance to a 10 year old game's 5 year old vehicle ruleset.
5) The "normal" point range has climbed. A few books just go so insanely high that they're essentially incompatible with others. Most notably, G: Lensman.

I really like GURPS. The key to that, I think, is that it does ordinary people quite well, and scales smoothly to highly accomplished ones. There are a lot of rules, skills and character options, but that goes well with my preference for playing and running lengthy campaigns, lasting several years in both game time and real time.

I like those to happen in settings resembling the real world, because the background material is better, and stranger, than any fictional setting. The quality of the sourcebooks helps a lot with that, but I find myself going beyond them into quite detailed history and turning that into stories.

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