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You will never vanquish the Lizard People, Monsieur Debonaire! Mwahahaha!
January 23, 2010 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Maybe D&D has disappointed you. Too complicated*, too slow, too restrictive? Spirit of the Century (free version, blurbs/store) is a Fate game designed for fast-paced, pulpy adventures. And we should thank Fudge, too.

Fudge (pdf) is essentially a customisable rpg toolkit based on simple resolution mechanics. Fate is an rpg system based on Fudge.

Some setting conversions for Fate can be found here. Defunct Fudge wiki. SubterFUDGE. Character creator/Fudge dice roller. The creator of Fudge has some extra material here.

And of course you can adapt other settings or subsystems till the cows come home.

*or the wrong kind of complicated. Your favorite edition sucks.
posted by ersatz (57 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
I should have completed that conversion of Fallout to FUDGE/Special back then.
posted by ersatz at 1:40 PM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do you perhaps mean Spirit of the Century?

Yeah, it's a good game with some pretty innovative ideas.
posted by jiawen at 1:46 PM on January 23, 2010


Wasn't this done decades ago by Steve Jackson Games and called G.U.R.P.S.?
posted by hippybear at 1:54 PM on January 23, 2010


Do you perhaps mean Spirit of the Century?

Oops, the Lizard People win another battle, but not the war. I invoke the Mods-on-site aspect. Mods, help me

Wasn't this done decades ago by Steve Jackson Games and called G.U.R.P.S.?

G.U.R.P.S. is rather rules-heavier and seems to provide specific rules for anything.
posted by ersatz at 2:06 PM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


A major selling point of GURPS is that it has over 400 skills that your character can learn. FUDGE and company have no skills list, they tell you to fill in whatever skills and special abilities your character has, and work out where and how they apply as you go.

I guess you could achieve a similar effect in GURPS by ignoring the skills list and making it up as you go, but I don't think anyone does that.
posted by LogicalDash at 2:13 PM on January 23, 2010


G.U.R.P.S. is rather rules-heavier and seems to provide specific rules for anything.

Rules heavy? You mean, "roll the dice against your skill attribute, if you roll beneath the number, you succeed, if you don't you fail"? Hrm. That seems pretty basic to me, but what do I know?

The only role-playing game I actually play is TOON. Because I cannot take any of them seriously, and that seems to be built into that particular system. Perfect for my personality, and I don't get asked to have my character commit suicide and leave the game like I do in every other campaign.
posted by hippybear at 2:15 PM on January 23, 2010


People say that GURPS is rules heavy because there are a lot of rules for items, superpowers, spaceships, and the like. Those rules only come into play if you use those items, superpowers, or spaceships in your game, and even then only if the GM wants to simulate those things rather than just arbitrating them.

So, GURPS can be played rules-lite, but people look at the books and see tons of rules and conclude that it's rules-heavy.

A forgivable error, I think.
posted by LogicalDash at 2:23 PM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Go Evil Hat! Good to see linkage to a nice system.

http://www.lulu.com/content/2085636 _Awesome Adventures_ by Willow Palacek is a way to get the most current FATE rules as in _Spirit of the Century_, set aside to stand on their own. Not that everybody shouldn't go buy SOTC too!

hippybear, GURPS does have a simple "roll 3d6 under skill" core mechanic, but dude... books and books and books and books filled with rules about exactly how many points you get to pay to get those skills, what those skills are, what modifiers apply to that skill roll in different contexts, and what the results are of rolling under those skills..... GURPS is a lot of wonderful things but it ain't a rules-light system.

I don't know if you'd call full-on SOTC rules light either, it mostly just has rules about different kinds of things. But FUDGE itself, very rules light (partly because it's incomplete and expects you to fill in a lot of details).
posted by edheil at 2:30 PM on January 23, 2010


edheil- Thanks for pointing out Awesome Adventures! I've met Willow on several occasions and never heard a peep from her about it. If I had written a role-playing book I'd be telling everyone and their mother.

If you're looking for rules-light gaming, I might also suggest The Window, Universalis, or rolling your own system.
posted by Jpfed at 3:06 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


GURPS can be as complex as you want it to be, or as simple as you want it to be. All the rules edheil mentions are basically optional.

I love GURPS, but I really don't much like Steve Jackson.

The problem is that Jackson wants to keep everything under his own control. There was, very briefly, the possibility for people to license the GURPS engine and use it for various settings. It was called "Powered by GURPS", and it's how the GURPS Discworld book was released. Jackson decided he couldn't stand letting other people dare to use the GURPS name and canceled the licensing.

Originally Fallout was supposed to have used GURPS rules. Depending on who you listen to Black Isle had actually finished all the number crunching parts when Steve Jackson decided that he just couldn't bear to let GURPS into a video game he didn't control 100% and broke the contract, forcing Black Isle to develop SPECIAL.

What pisses me off about the whole thing is that GURPS is, from my POV, the best roleplaying system out there. The basic ruleset is simple and quick to learn, the game mechanic works well, and it's extensible so that you can make it do whatever you want from supers to magic to transhuman SF to cop drama to whatever.

But the game will never get to live up to its potential because Steve Jackson insists on keeping it under his own ironclad control. And, before anyone jumps me, I fully acknowledge that's his right because he invented the system. But its stupid, and it keeps a system that should be used everywhere in a tiny little niche.

So no independent developers can ever use the GURPS engine, Steve Jackson games continues to lose revenue, and eventually they'll go belly up or be forced to drop GURPS from publication all because Steve Jackson is a control freak.

So I love GURPS, but it pisses me off.
posted by sotonohito at 3:16 PM on January 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


All the real nerds have switched to Pathfinder. 3.5 edition was the last good adnd. Also I look forward to some awesomeness from 3d printing and custom mini production.
posted by humanfont at 3:44 PM on January 23, 2010


You will never vanquish the Lizard People... from Congress!!
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:46 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


GURPS and SotC are very different games. GURPS is designed primarily for "realism", and does a good job of modeling gritty, near-to-normal people doing cool things. SotC is designed primarily for two-fisted cinematic action, and does a good job of modeling characters from four-color pulp comics doing amazing things. Horses for courses.

(Both have their problems, as well: GURPS never sufficiently emphasizes the importance of cutting down skill lists, leading to characters with dozens and dozens of skills that never get used, as well as having too many sub-systems; SotC has way too much crunch involved in all the powers and skills and stunts and feats and things to really lead to the kind of seat-of-your-pants play that cinematic action requires. In my opinion, of course.)

In any case, it's comparing apples and orangutans. They do different things.

Myself, when I'm going rules-light, I use Risus or Serious Risus.
posted by jiawen at 3:52 PM on January 23, 2010


You could always go for GURPS Lite, which is the game boiled down to a free 32-page pdf. Or if that's still too much for you, GURPS Ultra-Lite will do it with one page. Steve Jackson probably can't help people who still find this too unwieldy.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:04 PM on January 23, 2010


I don't like GURPS because it tries to be universal, but the main stats are basically strength, agility, stamina, and intelligence. There's a lot of places you can go from there, but when your core stats are so nakedly combat-oriented, the rest gets kludgey fast. The old World of Darkness system's character attributes had some issues, but they didn't so baldly privilege running around and hitting people so much.

That said, to my mind the strength of GURPS isn't in its system but in its settings and sourcebooks. There's an old joke that you can pick any three GURPS books at random and you have a new setting, and that's down to the wide variety and depth of available information in your average GURPS sourcebook. Whether it's the dry, slightly infodumpy historical settings, the genre-explicating of, say, GURPS Horror, or the satire and comedy of GURPS Illuminati University, GURPS offers source material for just about anybody who likes gaming, and I've known a fair few gamers with space on their shelves for GURPS books who'd never even owned or thought of purchasing the core rules.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:12 PM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Spirit of the Century is in my opinion one of the best RPGs ever produced. (And that's despite the fact I'm a D&D 4e fan). It, however, has two major problems. The first is that it's conceptually complex (aspects). And the second is that given how intertwined the character creation system makes the party, you need a very solid group to get it to work.

Gurps is a decent gritty simulationist game that suffers massively from skill-bloat. And thanks for explaining why there aren't GURPS based computer games. (I love most GURPS supplements, but it would probably have been easier to use a decent CAD package than the Vehicles 3e rules - squares of cube roots might be factually accurate for surface area/volume ratios, but I don't want to bother with that in RPGs, thanks).
posted by Francis at 4:16 PM on January 23, 2010


sotonohito, I think you've been misled about the GURPS licensing policy. Prime Directive has a GURPS Fourth Edition rulebook, still in print, and it's not published by SJGames.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:18 PM on January 23, 2010


I'm playing Pathfinder these days ... I guess I'm a serious nerd. But it's not my favorite system; I'm just hanging with a D&D crowd right now and that seems to be the best D&D version currently out there.

GURPS is not a rules-light system. Can you create a fun, playable character in 10 minutes? No? Then it ain't rules-light.

A really fun, incredibly mechanics-light rules system which is easily adaptable to other games is Over The Edge. I highly recommend it.

Of course, as has been pointed out above, different mechanics are designed to do different things. I personally don't like "reality-modeling" systems that attempt to give a specific number and a mechanic for every single possible event that can happen. It's both limiting in terms of what you can do and annoying because you have to memorize multiple books-full of rules to play. Bleah. I have never been a fan of GURPS, Shadowrun, Champions, or for that matter D&D. I do play them, and usually enjoy them (well, except for Shadowrun, which is just too mechanics-heavy to be fun), but I always feel like I'm enjoying them in spite of the rules rather than because of them.

However, this doesn't mean that a whole bunch of rules is never good. Sometimes an idea is complex enough that it requires a certain amount of complexity to express. Nobilis is a game that's hard to get your head around, but once you do it's very rewarding. The rules are in the service of expanding how much fun you can have with the game, rather than limiting it.
posted by kyrademon at 4:22 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's both limiting in terms of what you can do and annoying because you have to memorize multiple books-full of rules to play.

Doing it wrong.

Sounds to me like your GM isn't doing their homework. A well-run GURPS campaign begins with a list of what sections of the rulebooks are going to come into play. And if the game master pauses the game to go look up a modifier... it's hardly the modifier's fault.

Role playing of any sort requires improvisation on the part of the game master. Studying rulebooks makes that easier for some people. But if you insist on following the rules even when they would not benefit the game, the game designers cannot help you.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:29 PM on January 23, 2010


oh, and

GURPS is not a rules-light system. Can you create a fun, playable character in 10 minutes? No?

Buy Wild Talent and a bash skill or two. This will consume most of your points. Spend the rest on whatever floats your boat and you're ready.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:41 PM on January 23, 2010


If your argument is that the best way to make such a system playable is to ignore the mass of obscure rules defining particular situations whenever convenient, I think it supports my point rather than refutes it. I prefer systems that do not have such a mass in the first place. I have never found that they enhance rather than detract from gameplay.
posted by kyrademon at 4:44 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


(I'm not saying you're wrong, LogicalDash, or that you're not having fun. I've had plenty of fun playing GURPS. But when the best way to have fun is to circumvent the system ... I always feel like something's wrong with the system in the first place.)
posted by kyrademon at 4:46 PM on January 23, 2010


My argument is that before the game starts you need to go over the rules and decide what of them to use. A given GURPS game isn't likely to use more than, oh, ten pages of optional rules, at least not after the players have pimped out their characters. They're called "optional" for a reason.

Of course, since GURPS has rules to determine how many seconds you can shave off of your reloading time using your special self-measuring powder flask, it tends to attract the sort of people who like gritty realism. If that's not your idea of fun you need to find another group.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:53 PM on January 23, 2010


But ... that's what I've been saying. What are we arguing about?
posted by kyrademon at 4:58 PM on January 23, 2010


You keep saying there's something wrong with GURPS, and I don't see it.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:59 PM on January 23, 2010


No, I've been saying that I, personally, am not a fan of GURPS, and that I, personally, do not believe it is a "rules-light" system, which some people have been arguing that it is.

As far as I can see, I said I do not like GURPS because I find the rules needlessly complex, you argued that the needless complexity was optional, and I said, OK, but I prefer games without optional needless complexity (in part because, as you point out, such games tend to attract people who like that sort of thing and therefore those rules tend to get used.)

I've had tons of fun playing GURPS in the past, often playing it the very way you suggest. It's just not my favorite rules system. I think some other games are better designed. What's the big deal?
posted by kyrademon at 5:05 PM on January 23, 2010


Man, you mention one RPG and this place goes all RPG.net on your butt.

/has never 'gotten' GURPS

/generally avoids pro/anti-skub threads on RPG.net
posted by Scattercat at 5:06 PM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I originally took exception to It's both limiting in terms of what you can do and annoying because you have to memorize multiple books-full of rules to play. I don't think that GURPS limits the game master, and I don't think you have to memorize multiple books-full of rules to play.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:10 PM on January 23, 2010


Ah. There has been an error of communication, then.

I was not, actually, referring to GURPS specifically with that comment. I was referring to the concept of "reality-simulation" role-playing rules systems in general. Some systems handle this better than others.

I simply meant that the attempt to create a system which tries to account for every possible action/reaction with a specific rule tends towards the direction of "limiting action + multiplying rules". No system does this *entirely* -- even the most specific system in the world also has general rules that apply to a variety of situations.

I find GURPS does this to an extent that bothers me; not just with the optional rules, but with fairly basic stuff like the different points that have to be spent on different types of skills. You may find GURPS falls exactly in the sweet spot where you like it. That's a matter of opinion.

My only assertion, really, was that the more a system tries to create specific rules for specific situations, the less I personally tend to like it.
posted by kyrademon at 5:17 PM on January 23, 2010


Oh, okay.

FATE would probably be your thing, then.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:19 PM on January 23, 2010


My family (with 6-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter) just started a lightweight RPG of our own this past week. I wrote up an experience report for some friends in an email, and just posted it to my vox blog to share more widely. We've played two hours since then, and it's been a pretty big hit around here. Short story on the rules: basically making them up as we go, but inspired by FATE and Fudge, with a healthy dose of Robin's Laws of Good Gamemastering (so I guess we've got some GURPS in there somewhere as well).
posted by dylanjames at 5:22 PM on January 23, 2010


The following GURPS settings actually exist:

GURPS Discworld (with two add-on books!)

GURPS Prisoner (I am not a number, I am a free PC!)

GURPS Bunnies & Burrows (basically Watership Down the RPG!)

GURPS Conan

GURPS Riverworld
posted by JHarris at 5:44 PM on January 23, 2010


And to bring things full circle, GURPS Bunnies & Burrows is by the same author as Fudge in the post above. I ran a Fudge campaign for several years over IRC using a custom roller I'd programmed and it is a wonderful and flexible system. If I wanted something that emphasized rules lite over rules specific to a setting I don't know why I'd go anywhere else.
posted by meinvt at 6:17 PM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Bah. Give me Traveller any day.

And not this d20 nonsense. I want to be able to raid board games for dice in an emergency.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:26 PM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pope Guilty Matter of taste I suppose. I find that, for myself, the various advantages and disadvantages take care of the more subtle matter of personality, social influences, etc better than a couple of extra attributes would.

LogicalDash To the best of my knowledge Prime Directive is the only one that was ever produced outside Steve Jackson's control, and that was largely due to legacy licensing. Otherwise they were all just published by SJ Games and essentially under his control. Powered by GURPS hasn't done diddily squat lately, and seems to be dead.

The derth of independent books using the GURPS engine would seem to indicate that if it is at all possible to license the engine, it damn sure isn't easy.

Various official GURPS people on the forums have indicated that they (SJ Games) don't like to or want to license GURPS because anything outside their control wouldn't have their guarantee of quality [1] and might harm the good name of GURPS.

There is no website describing how to go about licensing GURPS. The Powered By GURPS page says nothing about who to contact if you'd like to be powered by GURPS yourself.

Further, of the grand total of six "Powered By GURPS" games available, all six involve a SJ Games employee as an editor, writer, etc. All but GURPS Prime Directive are published by SJ Games. In other words, they're all SJ Games products.

Nope, GURPS is a closed little empire, if Steve Jackson isn't interested in the topic, it'll never happen, and it is pretty much impossible to license GURPS for anything SJ doesn't want to do himself. Which, as I said, sucks because I love the engine and it kills me to see it dying essentially because SJ is too much of a control freak.

[1] Ahem, like Magic 4e? Yeah, really great quality that iron fist is producing guys.
posted by sotonohito at 6:41 PM on January 23, 2010


I've checked out the Spirit, and the system seemed decent enough. But what I really liked, and this is the reason it was recommended to me in the first place, is the tips and tricks for GMs listed in the back. There's an extensive appendix outlining what makes gameplay interesting for players, and ways to move the game forward from arc to arc. That was, for me, worth the price.
posted by lekvar at 7:09 PM on January 23, 2010


The intertwined character generation section of SotC was a revelation; my group has since integrated it into our Star Wars and D&D campaigns. We had a wonderful time with the game, right up until our battle with the big boss during the final session; mooks die fast, but big name characters take forever to take down.

I've said this pretty much every year that I've been a gamer (damn near twenty years since my first session of D&D), but it is kind of amazing how many good games are on the market right now. I'm kind of overwhelmed with choices. In the past year I've played D&D (4th edition, which was good for what it was, but it turned out not to be precisely the game that I wanted), Spirit of the Century, Prime Time Adventures, Star Wars Saga Edition, Dark Heresy/Rogue Trader, a couple of the World of Darkness games, Shadowrun and Realms of Cthulhu. I've had a full plate, and I'm still looking for time and players for Dogs in the Vineyard, Burning Wheel, CthulhuTech, Pathfinder, Necessary Evil and Eclipse Phase.

Not that my opinion counts for much, but for my money, Prime Time Adventures with a good group of players is hard to top.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 7:18 PM on January 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Fantasy Craft is an excellent D20 mutation.
posted by lumensimus at 7:33 PM on January 23, 2010


As jiawen said, GURPS and SotC are wildly different in feel and execution. It's a bit like comparing Final Fantasy and Morrowind, or even poker and Fluxx.

We've been enjoying SotC. It takes getting used to if you come from rules-oriented, DM- and book-centered gaming, but it's really fun to define your character through original traits such as "I know how to do this--I read it in a book!" (one of mine). Worth checking out!
posted by wintersweet at 8:55 PM on January 23, 2010


Prime Time Adventures with a good group of players is hard to top.

Yeah, PTA, Universalis and Inspectres are three games that amaze me every time I play them, like, conceptually I understand they're fun, I remember them being fun, but every time, I'm like, "Damn! I forgot this was THIS fun!"
posted by yeloson at 9:49 PM on January 23, 2010


No love for Over The Edge?

Universalis reminds me of Theatrix, which I playtested at a convention a long long time ago.

GURPS is rules-middle, chartmaster is rules heavy.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:18 PM on January 23, 2010


I don't like GURPS because it tries to be universal, but the main stats are basically strength, agility, stamina, and intelligence. There's a lot of places you can go from there, but when your core stats are so nakedly combat-oriented, the rest gets kludgey fast. The old World of Darkness system's character attributes had some issues, but they didn't so baldly privilege running around and hitting people so much.

Well, no, other way round. To be really good at running around and hitting people you need to have good Strength, Agility and Stamina. To do anything else you just need Intelligence. So if you have a non-fighting character it's trivial to be good at lots of things and really good at your chosen specialism - for example, your Biologist will have a great Biology level but also be great at Literature, Poetry, Public Speaking, Physics, Knot-tying, Mapreading, Piloting Spacecraft etc. etc. (It's been a while, so forgive me if this list is ridiculous.) But your starting fighting character will only be middling at fighting and not really good at doing anything else.

A bigger problem is the Wealth system. Fifty "points" makes you a pretty good swordsman if you put them into fighting. Fifty "points" lets you hire thousands of excellent swordsmen if you put them into being rich.

But this is all about how the Gamemaster intelligently handles the players and rules to create the game they want to play. Which brings me to my general point: I never really found that the rules system matters that much. Who is playing the game is what counts.
posted by alasdair at 5:26 AM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


But this is all about how the Gamemaster intelligently handles the players and rules to create the game they want to play. Which brings me to my general point: I never really found that the rules system matters that much. Who is playing the game is what counts.

Oh gosh yes! I've played games where the GM has had their own scenario and chosen the most blatantly wrong rules to run it under and the game's still been fun. I know a GM who keeps claiming that if only they could get the right system then their games would be great - and no-one can bring themselves to tell them that, no, it's not the system, it's you.

As a novice GM in a last minute ohshit panic I ran a Victoriana-type one off using 4th ed D&D. Players were awesome, and it still sort of worked because of that, despite the most wrong combination of setting/rules as is imaginable!

I learned about Risus after that, which became my goto 'ohshit' rules system. But I'm always interested in new systems, and will be checking this one out.
posted by Coobeastie at 5:56 AM on January 24, 2010


Maybe I'm just weird about it, but I positively loathe the concept of Fudge Dice, and so could never really get into Spirit of the Century. Lots of other things about the game seem interesting, but the fact that you have to roll lame dice that have +/0/- on them instead of, you know, actual numbers is a turn-off to me.

OTOH, this thread has made me want to use Over the Edge to run an idea I've wanted to run for quite a while. So thanks even though I'm not into SotC.
posted by graymouser at 7:22 AM on January 24, 2010


Also inspired by the Fate system: Houses of the Blooded, by John Wick.
posted by digitaldraco at 8:36 AM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, Over The Edge. Great rules system, one of the simplest and most elegant I've ever encountered. The setting was pretty awesome, too, though looking back it seems a bit dated now. I can't put my finger on it, but there is something very nineties about OTE's Burroughs-esque setting. Maybe because it seemed more transgressive (or, dare I say, edgy) in the just barely pre-internet era in which it was released.
posted by Edgewise at 9:24 AM on January 24, 2010


To be really good at running around and hitting people you need to have good Strength, Agility and Stamina. To do anything else you just need Intelligence. So if you have a non-fighting character it's trivial to be good at lots of things and really good at your chosen specialism - for example, your Biologist will have a great Biology level but also be great at Literature, Poetry, Public Speaking, Physics, Knot-tying, Mapreading, Piloting Spacecraft etc. etc. (It's been a while, so forgive me if this list is ridiculous.) But your starting fighting character will only be middling at fighting and not really good at doing anything else.

You are forgiven. "[M]iddling at fighting," as compared with whom? Character points are purely a measure of utility of abilities in game terms and where you allocate them makes a difference. A fifty-point fighter is going to wipe out a fifty-point biologist, but a 250-point fighter is going to kick the ass of either one.

In any event, this seems to be a grievous misunderstanding of how default skills work. Most skills default to something else (at a significant minus). Anyone might try their hand at writing a book or running a marathon, but someone smart will tend to do better at the first and someone in good shape has a better chance at the second. On the other hand, neither the very bright nor the very fit will usually do better than someone with some training in the fields. And on top of this, some skills have no defaults: no matter how smart or fit I am, I am not going to be very good at computer hacking or ventriloquism or throwing a lasso without training. Does this strike you as unrealistic?

A bigger problem is the Wealth system. Fifty "points" makes you a pretty good swordsman if you put them into fighting. Fifty "points" lets you hire thousands of excellent swordsmen if you put them into being rich.

This would be a damning criticism of GURPS (and by extension, points-based games) if it were true. Luckily for us all, it is mostly poppycock.

WARNING: GEEKERY AHEAD. Consider two otherwise perfectly average characters who have done what you suggest: Joe and Fred Average. Joe goes for fifty points sunk into Wealth; this makes him, in GURPS terms, "Filthy Rich," with one hundred times the average starting wealth. Fred puts twenty-four points into Broadsword, twenty-four points into Shield, and two into Dancing so he can do the Aztec Two-Step on Joe's grave. Fred now had Broadsword-16 and Shield-16. Without ever trying anything fancy and assuming no weird conditions (he is not fighting in the dark or while on fire, he is not aiming for the left foot exclusively), Fred has to roll 16 or less on three six-sided dice to hit, which he will do 98.1% of the time. This seems to me to be better than "pretty good."

Joe, on the other hand, has to hire his thousands of swordsmen. The base starting wealth in a modern games is $20,000, so Joe has $2,000,000 to play with. Can he pay let-us-say two thousand people better at this than Fred? Sure, for a week or so, I guess. Joe hires two thousand swordsmen even better than Fred. Fred goes to Aruba on vacation for two weeks, come back, and finds the now-destitute and friendless Joe, and thwacks him once or twice with the broadsword. Fred's biggest worry is now whether he can roll against his Dancing-10 skill to pull off the Aztec Two-Step.

The Wealth rules in GURPS are imperfect, I freely admit. But they are nowhere near as broken as you suggest.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:33 AM on January 24, 2010


I'm a big fan of SotC as well as D&D 4e; they both are very much the games I want them to be.

I'm currently playing in a D&D campaign with SotC's Aspects and Fate Points bolted on and it is by far the best campaign I've ever played in.
posted by NMcCoy at 10:42 AM on January 24, 2010


ricochet biscuit Speaking as a GURPS fan, I think you're being somewhat disingenuous.

Every RPG I have ever played has consistently undervalued wealth in character creation, and I think any wise GM would be well advised to seriously consider simply prohibiting any player from buying wealth above average at character creation, you'd have to evaluate case by case of course, but in general I find that it is horribly imbalancing.

If, in your example, Fred hadn't been so stupid as to wait for Joe to visit Aruba before hiring his swordsmen, he'd have Joe's hide for a doormat. More to the point, who needs 2,000 soldiers? Hire 20 and they'll still be able to take Joe down, and leave Fred filthy rich.

More to the point, 20 points in Independent Income, plus 50 in Wealth gives Fred $400,000 a month to burn on mercenaries without even touching his starting wealth. And a 70 point fighter is still not going to be able to take him on.

This doesn't mean GURPS is broken, it simply means that if you let people play with high wealth it causes headaches for the GM. GURPS includes rules on wealth for completeness, that doesn't mean the GM has to let their players buy wealth. Anymore than the existence of rules for magic means you have to let a player in a gritty WWII era detective game be a wizard.

Obviously the rich guy, if trapped behind enemy lines, or whatever, is going to have a harder time than a soldier. But let's not fool ourselves, all other things being equal I'd bet on the player with the money. Which is why I generally don't let players take wealth at character creation.

Basically I see high wealth as a form of munchkining.
posted by sotonohito at 11:20 AM on January 24, 2010


Much as in real life!
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:27 AM on January 24, 2010


I haven't been playing RPG for quite a long time, but my experience was that the GM was the only important factor. You could use any damn system you wanted, but if the GM wanted to produce a fun adventure for the players, that's what you got, and if he wanted to make the players suffer, that's what you got.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:33 AM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


your Biologist will have a great Biology level but also be great at Literature, Poetry, Public Speaking, Physics, Knot-tying, Mapreading, Piloting Spacecraft etc.

Just like real life. (I work with biologists.)
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:37 AM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I haven't been playing RPG for quite a long time, but my experience was that the GM was the only important factor.

Of course, there's also games that don't have GMs (Universalis, 1001 Nights, Breaking the Ice, Polaris). And then there's games where the players get to override, or state facts that shape the story that the GM can't override (The Pool, Inspectres, octaNe, Primetime Adventures, Bliss Stage, Shab al-Hiri Roach).

The GM is the only important factor when they're the sole controller of where story goes and/or the sole controller of what rules get applied in play. If you're playing a game that has rules that help what you want out of a game, the rules become more important, because the whole group works together to the same goal.

It's a big world of games out there.
posted by yeloson at 12:25 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


If, in your example, Fred hadn't been so stupid as to wait for Joe to visit Aruba before hiring his swordsmen, he'd have Joe's hide for a doormat. More to the point, who needs 2,000 soldiers? Hire 20 and they'll still be able to take Joe down, and leave Fred filthy rich.

Oh, I agree totally. Wealth is a headache, but it is a mild pain and not the Scanners exploding head that alasdair -- possibly through misunderstanding -- states it to be. Fifty points of wealth will buy you thousands of troops at your beck and call? Hardly. One or two dozen, as you suggest? Sure, that seems believable and balanced for someone with a hundred times the typical wealth at his disposal (a millionaire, in modern terms).

My own approach is much closer to your own. 95% of the characters that have ever been in my games have had average wealth, and the ones who vary usually vary downwards.

Basically I see high wealth as a form of munchkining.


It's pretty easy to separate PCs and cash, in my experience. Fools and their money are soon partying.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:56 PM on January 24, 2010


For the GURPS fans: GURPS Diskworld is a perfect example of how to ruin a sourcebook. "Hey, we know the books say magic/witches/etc. work this way, but we're going to use standard GURPS rules instead." No Mr. Jackson, your game does NOT trump what Mr. Pratchett wrote.

As far as Spirit of the Century: yes it's a game that has some really neat concepts, but they really made it far too complex, with literally hundreds of pages about Stunts, the attributes you buy to make skills do special things. The Diaspora SRD does seem to compact things a bit, but all of the FATE games really seem to have an obsession with wordiness and tons of rules. Myself, I like things a little lighter.

Risus is an excellent free game, heavily influenced by the earlier, brilliant Over the Edge. Lady Blackbird, Fudge on the Fly, Shadow of yesterday...hell there's tons of free games on the net that are worth having a look at. I'll have to make a full post about them some time.
posted by happyroach at 5:43 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


happyroach Yeah, that was pretty bad, no denying it I think more laziness than anything else, because Discworld doesn't seem to have a single consistent magic system, but rather a mishmash. The wizards use some pretty damn formulaic magic, apparently using mana stored in their staves (per Equal Rites), or they use a Vancian system (per RIncewind multiple times), or both, or neither.

And the witches are worse. Granny Weatherwax mostly uses headology, and a lot of borrowing, but she can also grab swords and put off getting hurt till later, and convince people that they're frogs.

Part of the problem with doing a game with Discworld magic is getting Pratchett to clearly define what, exactly, is going on, and that (like many other things) changes from book to book. In the beginning he was clearly influenced by D&D and its Vancian system. Later he moved towards a more freeform mana system. Now he appears to use what might be a combination of both, or (more likely) just "whatever works for the plot".

But, all that said, yeah, the GURPS people got lazy. A freeform magic system (and they could have grabbed any from Thaumatology if they wanted to stick with established GURPS stuff rather than inventing a new one) would have worked much better than vanilla GURPS magic.

Personally, I'd handle GURPS magic, for witches especially, as advantages, some of the example stuff straight out of Powers would do it just fine. For the wizards it might be necessary to invent a completely new magic system. Possibly pseudo-Vancian?

Still, other than that the material in the book was pretty damn good.

And, look on the "bright" side: they appear to have completely shut down any and all third party material forever, so you'll never see anything else like GURPS Discworld again. I don't think GURPS Girl Genius will ever appear, which sucks massively because I really want it.
posted by sotonohito at 4:24 AM on January 25, 2010


"Personally, I'd handle GURPS magic"

"Personally I'd handle **DISCWORLD** magic"

I hate when I do stupid stuff like that.
posted by sotonohito at 4:26 AM on January 25, 2010


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