GURPS Mysteries


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A dead body, no witnesses, and a room full of suspects with perfect alibis - can you find the killer and bring him to justice? Learn the secrets of mystery fiction and what will, and will not, work in an RPG mystery. Learn how to be a better investigator. Learn the problems you are likely to encounter in a low-tech, magic, super-tech, or horror mystery.

GURPS Mysteries covers:

* Creating mysteries as stand-alone adventures, as part of an existing campaign, or as a campaign in their own right, with specific discussions of the low-tech, modern-tech, future, magic, and horror settings.
* Setting the crime scene, including detailed forensic information on causes of death, investigation methods, and a forensic timeline.
* Creating interesting villains, including matching disadvantages to motives and means of carrying out a crime.
* A template-based character generation system for iconic investigators, including the genius detective, the hardboiled shamus, police detectives, investigating magicians, even "that darn kid."
* Sample detective and investigative agencies to hire or bedevil characters.
* Expanded rules for questioning and interacting with NPCs.

GURPS Mysteries is designed both for the GM who wants to create and run mystery adventures and for players who want to create and portray more effective investigators in any setting.

NOTE: This is Version 1.2, with bookmarks added and an altered page number format for ease of double-sided printing.

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First Post

Mysteries can be played in any type of Role Playing Game. They are unlike other adventure styles in that they need a bit more work for the Game Master to set up the mystery, plan out the clues, develop the non player characters who are going to be involved, possible plant a few red herrings, and then have the patience to let the players go and figure things out in their own way and in their own time. It is rare to see a good RPG product that deals with mysteries since they are challenging and require a little more from both e Game Master and the Players. The Game Master has to have the proper planning and foresight to make the mystery interesting and not to obvious. And at the same time it cannot be so challenging the players give up. The Players on the other hand need to be thinking and be able to put things together for themselves and not wait for the Game Master to hand them clues on a silver platter. GURPS Mysteries is the one book I will now turn to when planning mysteries. It is well researched, brilliantly written, and handles itself great with the difficult task of creating and running a mystery in a role playing game.

GURPS Mysteries is a new PDF only release by Steve Jackson Games. Steve Jackson Games is one of the long standing Role Playing Game Companies and they and their GURPS system seem to have been around for a long time. GURPS stands for Generic Universal Role Playing System and supports play in every genre and type of game that is on the market. Their supplements are well known for being well researched and self contained. Many gamers find the supplements so useful that they pick them up to use with other systems. Many times GURPS books cover areas that other games do not and in greater detail then the few that do. GURPS Mysteries is a one hundred and twenty four page PDF. It is a color PDF though not full color. There are color in the side bars and some of the pictures, but there is also much that is black and white. Printing on an ink jet does consume a bit of ink, but not as bad as many more colorful books. The PDF is book marked but they could have done a better job with organizing the book marks into the chapters and book marking more sections. However, the book has a table of contents better then most books’ indexes and its index is fabulous. This is a very well organized book.

The book starts off with some good general advice on what make a RPG mystery different from real life ones and book and movie mysteries. It also makes a point to explain that a mystery adventure is not going to be like other adventures. It then covers basic advice like keeping in simple and how to start making ones own mysteries. The book covers this all in very good and elaborate detail. It does not pull away from modern advances, psychic and magical abilities, and even mysteries in a supers game. This book covers all those genres and more. It explain how to do a medieval mystery and how to deal with players that want to use modern advances in science and techniques in games that this type of thing does not exist. There are many informative side bars that really cut to the chase on many subjects.

Like many GURPS books this can be used with many systems. The information I talked about above is not intermixed with game mechanics. It is all advice and written words easily adaptable to any game. That is not to say that there is nothing here for the GURPS game; it is just that all the GURPS rules are presented in the back all together. This makes the book easy to use for GURPS as well as other games making the rules section easy to ignore for people not interested in it, or for the GURPS players having all the rules in one section easy to print out altogether without fear of divulging any of the secrets and advice the rest of the book gives the Game Master.

For the GURPS players the book has many concepts for characters of different point values. They have a sixty point defense attorney, a two hundred and fifteen point Genius detective, a one hundred and fifty point investigating mage, a one hundred and twenty five point Private Psi, a sixty five point Tat Darn Kid, and many others. IT includes some of the basic advantages, disadvantages, and skills that have a particular significance in the mystery genre as well as a few new ones. There is also penty of equipment to help equip a sleuth.

I am always s a big fan of bibliographies and this book has one about five pages long. The bibliography covers a good deal, but it would take a lot more space to cover the literally thousands of mystery novels, non fiction, and other media sources. Still, this is a very good start covering mostly books of fiction and non fiction but also including some films and TV shows.

Another great thing in the book is the time line. It covers many important events in time that would be beneficial to a sleuth adventure. It starts with:

1248 Hsi Yüan Lu, a work on forensic medicine, published in China.

And includes many important times like when the microscope was invented, when the first forensic autopsy happened, when the first modern western detective story was published (Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, differences in blood types discovered, and many many other important events in forensic studies. The time line is over two pages long and is very impressive.

GURPS Mysteries is the ultimate in mystery role playing books. It is very useful to any genre and any game but obviously even more useful for GURPS players. I am very impressed with the research, the completeness, and the absolute great approach to mysteries for role playing games. This book is basically a must have for anyone planning on doing a mystery role playing game.


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I'm glad to see reviews of GURPS sourcebooks here as I've found them to be very useful and good value in the past. Now to write reviews of mine and post them here.


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As long as it is an nRPG sourcebook, we want reviews of them. Its just not always easy to find people who want to review other systems since EN World is mostly a d20 site. But we try. If you do review some GURPS books, the books will need to be added tro the system and right nnow few people can actually do that. E-mail me or start a thread in Meta on En World about what you need added and I'll get it done.

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