G is for GURPS

The very first rpg I waited for to come out was GURPS.

In the late 70s about the same time I was introduced to D&D I was introduced to Microgames by Metagaming. Two of them were great little combat games that shared the same basic system: Melee and Wizard. They only required six sided dice, were moderately crunchy, and easy to play. As D&D started to take over the gaming scene Metagaming presented three expansions: Advanced Melee, Advanced Wizard, and In the Labyrinth which turned the two games into The Fantasy Trip, a full blown RPG (actually they’d long been named The Fantasy Trip: Melee and The Fantasy Trip: Wizard).

Why am I discussing out of print and forgotten RPGs in this post?

Because these “roll 3d6 under your attribute” games were designed by none other than Steve Jackson. In fact, when he left Metagaming to form Steve Jackson Games he tried to buy the games to print himself. When that didn’t pan out he began work on their successor. Because instead of just a fantasy game he wanted to write a generic system that could be used for all systems. He wanted a universal game. Generic Universal Roleplaying System became the joke working title for his new game.

Then, in 1985 GURPS: Melee came out. Okay so it was really called Man to Man: Fantasy Combat From GURPS but it was similar in concept. Over the next few years GURPS would go through its first two editions until the grand Third Edition came out in 1989.

From the Second Edition on I have owned a copy. I have a nearly complete GURPS Third Edition including even rare books like all four WoD licensed books and Witch World. For the 90s GURPS would be my go to system and I even own the Fourth Edition Core. These days it’s not on the front burner but I’d play it.

I often have considered running “The GURPS Trip”, a simplified GURPS than hearkened back to The Fantasy Trip. The biggest change would be all skills would be bought at stat level so you wouldn’t need to keep complex point counts or separate scores for each. Advanced combat would be used for the mapping but little else. I would have a much smaller list of ads/disads and those with levels would be fixed at specific ones.

Regardless of whether or not I play GURPS itself again the five or so feet of GURPS 3rd edition sourcebooks will remain. Even Classic D&D games have seen me use them. In fact, the biggest achievement of GURPS was probably the source books which were always designed to be of maximal utility in any game system. In fact, that was part of SJG sale strategy.

If you are willing to experiment with crunch even now I’d recommend taking GURPS for a whirl. You can download free light rules for 3rd and 4th editions. Give it a try.

5 thoughts on “G is for GURPS

  1. It's still a personal favorite of mine. There are other games these days, as well (such as S&W Whitebox), but at one time GURPS was all I did. In fact, I'm listed as playtester in several supplements.

  2. It's interesting how many gamers are taking part in the A-Z Blogging challenge. I'm beginning to see where some writers actually get their inspiration with a roll of the dice. Pleasure to meet you, by the way!

  3. @faoladh: I used to have play tester access back when it was IO online but never contributed anything back.

    @Jeffrey: You'd be amazed at where you can go from one roll on a strange table.

    @Lee: I love the Redwald blog. As someone with an Anglo-Saxon SCA persona I'm definitely following it.

  4. We discovered Gurps 2e in 1988 and it became our default system until 4e. Actually, we're still playing Gurps (4e this time), even though I have a zillion games I'm chomping at tge bit to play.

    My own Gurps shelf probably resembles yours. I have some 2e books, most 3e books (including white wolf conversions, Falkenstein conversions, and even computer game adaptations. My PDF library is crazy huge, especially since I've mostly been going that route lately. Favorite bOoks: Voodoo, Cabal, Horror 3e, and Goblins.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *