Skip to main content

Whither Writing for GURPS?


To expand a bit on my comments here on how it's difficult to write new rules for GURPS:


It's not hard to add entirely novel rules to GURPS. The problem, in my own writing and gaming, is finding a need to add entirely novel rules. Mechanically, it's not necessarily hard to write new rules. GURPS is heavy on "find the appropriate trait, modify for circumstances, and roll that number or lower on 3d6." And there's always room for special cases. For example, Tactical Shooting and Technical Grappling add a wealth of gritty detail to shooting things and grabbing people, if you're into that kind of thing, and even with the basic magic system, basic psi, a magic-as-advantages approach, RPM, and variants to be found in Thaumatology, there's always room for new approaches to extra-normal abilities.

No, what I'm talking about is finding topics on which new, general rules can be written where none existed before, or broadly applicable rules for notable adventuring topics. GURPS is densely written, so it takes some unpacking, but there's an astonishing breadth there. For example, fighting, as a general thing, is covered perfectly well in the Basic Set. Might some people want more for a campaign emphasizing detailed combat? Sure. Martial Arts and all that aren't necessary, even though they're pretty nifty. Infinite new magic systems could be written to reflect various views of the supernatural, but magic as a thing already has more coverage than I'll ever use. Social interaction? Social Engineering provides lots of welcome detail, but Basic's treatment is really quite good for the few pages it covers. Basic likewise has reasonable coverage of common physical feats like swimming, climbing, lifting and throwing things, and so on. Chase scenes? Emergency repairs? One character helping out another using a related skill? Action 2 has you covered. Bestiary? OK, there aren't a lot of general rules for making beasties, but there are plenty of examples scattered across various different books (some might take exception to the products on offer and their organization, certainly, but there's a significant amount of available information).

So what's left, in terms of general rules? Not a lot. When I'm confronted with an adventuring situation, it's rare that I can't find at least some applicable rule. There's room for some general design systems, notably for vehicles, weapons, and armor. I think there's also space for GM-centric world-building rules. City Stats is an excellent example. Possibly something similar could be done with environments. It'd be interesting to see generic rules on transportation and trade networks, helping the GM come up with everything from travel times and costs for PC travel to plausible markups for imported goods to adventures based on the act of going from point A to point B. Mostly, though, there are focused rules dealing with specialized circumstances and vast room to expand on the system with worked examples based on the already-solid basis the existing rules provide.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

CW Listicle Notes

Turns out I've got rather a lot to say about a rather short piece. Specifically, the Car Wars vignette in Pyramid #89. It's all in general pursuit of world-building, but there's probably as much world-building going on in this one as all of my previous vignettes put together. Four out of the five locations make glancing reference to notable aspects of the world of the new Car Wars, so there are some significant bits of history and culture to tease out there. The fifth...well, that was mostly just me amusing myself.

There's also a certain amount of--pardon the expression--reality in there. In figuring out where to put the various arenas, I looked at a lot of maps, lists of roadside attractions, locations of current sports venues, and other such materials. Each place has a definite location in the real world, sometimes to the point of using existing buildings. Here's where everything came from:

Big Swede Arena: Parking garage at the Emeryville Ikea. We went there a fe…

Panel Discussion Addendum

I was late to Douglas Cole's panel discussion of SJ Games staff and frequent contributors to Pyramid magazine, so I missed a lot of the questions asked directly to the authors, and technical issues prevented me from answering some others once I got there. These, then, are some things I might have said, had I been able:

Douglas: How well does that mission statement resonate with you guys? Do you like to write crazy stuff? Do you like to get out there with expansions on existing material? How do you tie what you’re writing to either the themes Steven has suggested or what’s in your heart.

I like to write a range of stuff; how I do it varies. I get an idea and go where that takes me. On one end, there's the pure historicals. In things like "A Brief History of the Thieves' Guild," it's mostly ideas and background information. Maybe I mention a skill or advantage to give it a fig-leaf of GURPS, but that's about it. At the other end, there are the crunch-heavy,…

The Occasional Dungeon: Overview

In order to get some more GURPS out there and play with some maps, I started toying with something. I've worked up a large map ("ground level" is below; I may need to poke around with image hosting to keep enough maps at the proper scales) of a dungeon complex. From time to time, I'll post magnified excerpts from the map with details in GURPS terms, with specific reference to Dungeon Fantasy (that is, mostly stocked with things from GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 8: Treasure Tables and the Dungeon Fantasy Monsters volumes, but occasional pointers elsewhere). They may prove useful to somebody somewhere under some odd set of circumstances.


This dungeon is set in a fairly steep, rocky hill. The natural caves underneath it have long been home to a variety of creatures, natural and otherwise, but pretty much all horrible. There's also a large natural cavern accessible through a very large opening at the top of the hill where the surface caved in. It has been home to a number …