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"I'd Never Normally Play This, But . . . ." -- i.e., That One Time You Got Talked Into Going Way Outside Your Comfort Zone

innerdude

Adventurer
For 3 or 4 months now, one of my game group buddies has been asking to run a campaign after our last Savage Worlds campaign finished up. Well two weeks ago, the SW campaign ended on a high note.

2 days later, my buddy drops an email --- "Hey guys, I'm prepping for our new campaign! It's going to be a super heroes game loosely based in Brandon Sanderson's Reckoners universe, and I'm dropping Savage Worlds to use GURPS instead."

Imagine my reaction based on the following facts:



  • I think GURPS is a bloviated, unnecessarily complex system that largely detracts from, rather than enhances the fun of roleplaying.
  • Super heroes is my least favorite genre of speculative fiction, by a large, large, large margin. My preferences for campaign genres would look something like this:
    Fantasy == Age of Sails == Space Opera == Cyberpunk == Roman Period > Western > Modern >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Super Heroes
  • It's well-established collective wisdom that GURPS is TERRRRRIBBBBLE for emulating "epic" supers.
  • The GM hasn't actively run a game of any kind for 10+ years---and I know from past experience, that even when he wasn't shaking off the "GM rust," he wasn't the most dynamic of GMs to begin with.


I've asked myself several times in the intervening weeks why I had agreed to do it. :p

But the GM's a good friend of mine, and he really wants to give it a shot, so last night we spent 4 hours doing a GURPS character building session. And for better or worse, it's the game in front of us. :erm::p


I'm interested in hearing how you all navigated the tricky emotional pitfalls when it's something your buddy's really in to but you just don't have an affinity for it, how you avoided subconsciously sabotaging the proceedings (or maybe even if you didn't avoid it) . . . . I'm sure there's some good stories out there, so kindly share if you're of a mind. :)
 
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Xaelvaen

Explorer
I'm interested in hearing how you all navigated the tricky emotional pitfalls when it's something your buddy's really in to but you just don't have an affinity for it, how you avoided subconsciously sabotaging the proceedings (or maybe even if you didn't avoid it) . . . . I'm sure there's some good stores out there, so kindly share if you're of a mind. :)
I'll note, I played 3.0/3.5 and pathfinder quite a bit until D&D 5E released. However, I had a friend who wanted me to play in his Pathfinder game and... I really didn't want to go back. It felt like taking a step backwards in RPG progression. However, I gave it a try - he ran one of those campaigns from Paizo, I don't even really remember which one, but I went Fighter - nice and simple, and decided that since the combat of PF is what bogs me down, I'll keep it easy to navigate, that way I can focus on the character and hopefully let the system meld into the background.

I failed to calculate just how many new supplements there were in that amount of time. I could barely slog through the feat selection, class alternatives, etc - but I did it, for the friendship of course. We played two sessions total, which were less total hours than went into making the character, before he got bored of the adventure path and it all just fell apart anyway.

I just can't do level-based + crunch. I can do one of the two, but not both. I didn't really have to navigate anything in that example, aside from 146 books of options for character creation.

In that vein, as to my understanding, HERO system is very complex creation, but very simplified to run. So perhaps that will work in your favor. As far as not even liking the -setting-, I'm not sure what to do about that. I'm not fond of super hero movies, let alone RPGs. I do believe you might just have to bite one of two bullets - truth, or mental damage.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
I’ve never been a fan of GURPS, but I was a member of a group for 3-4 years in which GURPS was one of the major systems played. They even did playtests- I participated in the one for V:tM. For my own convenience, I bought a softcover core rulebook & the martial arts sourcebook.*

I got through those years by making my own fun. I found PC concepts that both worked well (enough) in the system, but also entertained me as well. In fact, the process of creating characters for the various GURPS campaigns- as well as the other systems we used in those days- deeply and permanently changed the way I approached PC design.

I still don’t like GURPS, but I do respect it a bit more as a result.




* Much respect for GURPS sourcebooks- fairly well researched & written, generally speaking.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
I went Fighter - nice and simple, and decided that since the combat of PF is what bogs me down, I'll keep it easy to navigate, that way I can focus on the character and hopefully let the system meld into the background.
Whoops! Should have gone Barbarian. ;)

I failed to calculate just how many new supplements there were in that amount of time. I could barely slog through the feat selection, class alternatives, etc -
3.x/PF Fighter: elegant, but not simplistic. It's great for system masters, because you /can/ wring an adequate performance out of it through the sweetspot, if you're really good.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
In that vein, as to my understanding, HERO system is very complex creation, but very simplified to run. So perhaps that will work in your favor.
HERO is very much like that. I don’t recall GURPS being similar in that regard, but it very well could be.
 

Xaelvaen

Explorer
Whoops! Should have gone Barbarian. ;)

3.x/PF Fighter: elegant, but not simplistic. It's great for system masters, because you /can/ wring an adequate performance out of it through the sweetspot, if you're really good.
Well, I still had my grasp on the feats/options from the first two books I believe? So I figured it wouldn't be too much worse - yeah, should have gone Barbarian haha.
 

Xaelvaen

Explorer
HERO is very much like that. I don’t recall GURPS being similar in that regard, but it very well could be.
I always found them similar of a read, though admittedly I've played neither - only read, and not overly in depth at that. It always reminded me a bit of Alternity with the 'lower is better' approach.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
I always found them similar of a read, though admittedly I've played neither - only read, and not overly in depth at that.
I've played both (but never GM'd GURPS).
They use a similar resolution system, not so dissimilar to d20, really, but 3d6 roll-under with all sorts of modifiers. They're both build systems, and GURPS originally billed itself as a purpose-built Universal system (thus the U) and gave up on it calling itself "Multi-Genre" after a few editions, while Hero started as a de-facto core system and grew into Universal with it's 4th edition. But Hero is an effects-based system - you buy the effect something accomplishes (so arrows, bullets, lasers, & magic missiles all endeavor to kill targets down range, so they're all Killing Attacks, of varying power & limitations), while GURPS is list-based - each world book has lists of what you can buy with your points, so lasers (military X-ray lasers, OMFG!) are in Ultratech, bullets in High-tech, arrows in Basic, and magic-missiles in Magic. Among other factors, that means, for running a single game in a single genre, Hero represents more up-front work before play begins.

GURPS was inspired by the original Hero System game, Champions! and Hero 'going universal' was doubtless inspired by GURPS, they have enough in common that fans of one usually /hate/ the other. :D
 

Xaelvaen

Explorer
GURPS was inspired by the original Hero System game, Champions! and Hero 'going universal' was doubtless inspired by GURPS, they have enough in common that fans of one usually /hate/ the other. :D
Really - I had no idea they'd create such animosity in their similarities. Cool history lesson however - thank you sir.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
Really - I had no idea they'd create such animosity in their similarities.
Close competitors, I guess, rivalry can be bitter. Like the more contentious D&D and Pathfinder fans - though there's a lot more mutual appreciation, in those broader d20 communities, I think.

Cool history lesson however - thank you sir.
NP. I know I'm getting old because I can just drone on and on about stuff that happened in the 20th century. ;)
 

practicalm

Explorer
IGURPS was inspired by the original Hero System game, Champions! and Hero 'going universal' was doubtless inspired by GURPS, they have enough in common that fans of one usually /hate/ the other. :D
Do you have a source for this? because as I understood it, GURPS comes more from The Fantasy Trip which Steve Jackson designed and recently gained rights to and launched a kickstarter

The point buy system for Wiards and Melee designed by Steve Jackson predates HERO by 2 years
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GURPS
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
Do you have a source for this?
IIRC, Steve Jackson himself came right out and said it. May well have been in one of the GURPS books. But, remember, we're talking acknowledgement of 'inspiration' - there's no hint of plagiarism or being 'derivative' or anything like that.

There was a lot of rancor between GURPS and Hero System fans over which was really 'first' in one sense or another. GURPS was the first RPG, as far as I know, to call itself 'Universal' right on the cover, but Hero fans will /insist/ that Hero was de-facto 'universal' first because it had several different-genre games out before GURPS hit the shelves. Thing is, so did BRP, it was a 'core system' not universal, a game company re-cycling core system mechanics from one game to another. Heck, stodgy old TSR re-cycled systems from Boot Hill in Top Secret and D&D in Gamma World. When GURPS came out, Hero was just another Core System among many (well, several) - the potential of effects-based point-building powers was surely there from '81 on, but there was no published Hero System using it that way until '89.

The other way folks would come at that claim is to assert that GURPS never achieved 'Universal,' at all, and, indeed, while it didn't change it's name, later versions were self-described as "multi-genre" instead.

Are there still UseNet archives to search? I'm sure there's plenty of water under that bridge. ;)

The point buy system for Wiards and Melee designed by Steve Jackson predates HERO by 2 years
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GURPS
The 'point build' in Melee was just distributing 24 points to stats, 1:1, instead of randomly rolling them - it may even have been one of the first games in print to distribute points to stats like that, but probably not a new idea, even then, it's a very obvious variant when faced with 0D&D's random generation.

Distributing points to stats is nothing like Hero & GURPS with 100+ or 100s of points, plus points from disadvantages, building every aspect of your character.
 

practicalm

Explorer
IIRC, Steve Jackson himself came right out and said it. May well have been in one of the GURPS books. But, remember, we're talking acknowledgement of 'inspiration' - there's no hint of plagiarism or being 'derivative' or anything like that.

There was a lot of rancor between GURPS and Hero System fans over which was really 'first' in one sense or another. GURPS was the first RPG, as far as I know, to call itself 'Universal' right on the cover, but Hero fans will /insist/ that Hero was de-facto 'universal' first because it had several different-genre games out before GURPS hit the shelves. Thing is, so did BRP, it was a 'core system' not universal, a game company re-cycling core system mechanics from one game to another. Heck, stodgy old TSR re-cycled systems from Boot Hill in Top Secret and D&D in Gamma World. When GURPS came out, Hero was just another Core System among many (well, several) - the potential of effects-based point-building powers was surely there from '81 on, but there was no published Hero System using it that way until '89.
I've been on the forums and was on the Pyramid private usenet group before that and I've never heard of Steve Jackson saying HERO system was the main inspiration. I can check my copy of Man to Man which was the first GURPS and it was very much like The Fantasy Trip.

And I've never seen any conflict between GURPS and HEROs players as most of the people I know used both.

The other way folks would come at that claim is to assert that GURPS never achieved 'Universal,' at all, and, indeed, while it didn't change it's name, later versions were self-described as "multi-genre" instead.

Are there still UseNet archives to search? I'm sure there's plenty of water under that bridge. ;)

The 'point build' in Melee was just distributing 24 points to stats, 1:1, instead of randomly rolling them - it may even have been one of the first games in print to distribute points to stats like that, but probably not a new idea, even then, it's a very obvious variant when faced with 0D&D's random generation.

Distributing points to stats is nothing like Hero & GURPS with 100+ or 100s of points, plus points from disadvantages, building every aspect of your character.
The Point by was for The Fantasy Trip, not the basic Melee and Wizard. There was more than just stats.
 

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