Monday, August 13, 2012

GURPS Continued

I may have had a double helping of twelve year old whiskey and been listening to copious amounts of Pink Floyd whilst scribing this upon the Internets.

I like GURPS. I want to play/GM GURPS because I think GURPS is a swell system. You know why I like GURPS? I can sum it up very easily. You know those shadows you see burned into walls and stuff? Shadows left around people burned by radiation blasts? I made a sentient one of those with GURPS and it was a viable character. I mean, it had issues with communication, but in a pulpy alternate WWII kind of supers campaign, it would have worked. Also, one of the iconic characters of the game is a Buddhist combat robot. 

Anyway, I find it hard to articulate precisely what draws me to GURPS. I was just talking to Jason the other day about class vs. points/skill based systems and how I reacted upon opening a Shadowrun book and being utterly flummoxed by the complete lack of classes to be found in it. I was mystified as to how one would play such a game, as it had no classes. There were all kinds of abilities and whatnot, but no classes. It was mystifying. Despite loving the concepts of the setting, I did not reopen the book a second time.

A side note, I found out yesterday (which is seven days ago at this point) that the appropriate way to write GURPS is bolded and italicized.

Lately I've felt the desire to play GURPS, which is what led to the most recent GURPS related posts. I'm not sure what led to it this yearning, but I feel it as a strong urge. I feel that it is a strong system, and one that has been well vetted. I think the fourth edition of the game has existed for like eight years now. There are tons of sourcebooks for tweaking the game to get it to be what you want to be. The customization is ridiculous and the comprehensiveness of the rules is just as ridiculous (Want to dive in front of a friend to save them from a bullet? Rules for it. Want to flying tackle someone from across the room and knock them off a cliff or into a grain thresher? Rules for it. Want to grapple someone and snap their neck? Rules for it. Want to punch dudes in metal armor or block large bladed objects with your unarmed strikes? Rules for it, and the damage doing so can do to your hands and fingers. Want to run down someone with a 55' Chevy from the future? Rules for it, with damage based on velocity and weight of the Chevy.) Want to called shot someone's eyeball with a warhammer? (Can't do that, warhammer is too big, strike defaults to targeting the face.) I did another like exploratory exercise and converted all of my Hekinoe races into GURPS racial templates and they all work, except for that whole Elduman ability to reconstitute their flesh with psionic power, still just regeneration, although I suppose I could transform it into some manner of tough skin, ablative damage resistance the can be turned on and off. Hmm, that actually might work. Give them a slower version of regeneration that kind of simulates their psychic powers reinvigorating their crystalline flesh over time, but call the damage resistance kind of a souped up adrenaline fueled version of the same process where instead of healing them, their psionic might is kind of binding the lattices of their flesh together more tightly. Hmm, this idea has potential. 

In my recent conversation with Jason he said that he does not care for class based systems, he doesn't hate them, they're just not his preference. Another recent conversation with Lance informed me that he was having a hard time not min maxing and differentiating his Ranger from other Rangers. I told Lance that things like that are what make me regret my decision to use Pathfinder instead of GURPS.

The way I feel about GURPS while writing this is the same way I felt about Pathfinder while we were playing 4th Edition. Granted, I was very irritated with 4th Edition at the time and I have no real legitimate complaint about Pathfinder as a game. This leads me to wonder if my issue is merely just wondering if the grass is in fact greener on the other side of the fence, which is why I spent most of my day off today (again, this is seven days ago) puttering around in GURPS books looking to make sure it had defined crafting rules and rules for construction of fortresses (it does).

GURPS is more simulationist than anything else, it was designed to be "realistic" so sometimes the rules can be irritating in a way that Pathfinder rules are not. For instance, your Monk can punch iron golems all the live long day and never worry about breaking this fist into the stuff you find at the bottom of a box of cereal that used to be pieces of cereal and not crumbly leavings. The thing in GURPS' favor is that a lot of the rules are optional, and you are advised that if a rule is too serious or not in keeping with the flavor of the game, ignore it. Pathfinder never advises you that if you want a more "realistic" game you should give near misses blunt force trauma damage to simulate the weapon impacting the character's armor or nonsense like that (If a non crushing attack is blocked completely by damage resistance in GURPS, it deals blunt forced trauma damage to armored characters based on how much damage was blocked, yay realism).

Additionally, despite all my investigations and pdfs, we've never really actually played GURPS. One time Eric and I faced the Doctor and the Robot of Inconsistencies Continued off against one another. The Doctor iced the Robot. The battle lasted less than five minutes of real time and a single one second round of in game time, so its not like I have run a bunch of test scenarios and situations to gauge  GURPS as a game. On paper it looks good. In play, who knows. I just kind of feel like GURPS would be a lot easier to make my own so to speak than Pathfinder ever will be. Don't get me wrong, Pathfinder is awesome and I have definitely made some tweaks to the way classes operate, but I feel like I could do more with GURPS. For instance, the Alchemist is one of my favorite classes, but I think giving it a mutagen ability is goofy. I understand that we're channeling Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, but it seems like kind of a bizarre senseless addition to the class. I'd love to read some designer notes on the class and what the motivation for the inclusion of the mutagen was. Point, if I could, I'd yank the mutagen out, but what could I replace it with that is in keeping with the class' theme? More spells? More skill points maybe, but I think they already get like four or six per level, so there isn't exactly a lot of upward movement there. I dunno, just rambling here I guess. 

I wish either A) I could kick whatever bug is up my ass irritating my GURPS gland, or B) I could play GURPS and finally after what is probably over three years, see how the game works. I have no desire to switch systems mid campaign again, that was kind of irritating from a narrative standpoint when we switched from 4th Edition to Pathfinder.

The toying with GURPS (dog, that is getting annoying to type) that I am doing is basically me trying to scratch an itch to get it to go the fuck away. My players like Pathfinder and have no experience with GURPS and likely no desire whatsoever to switch systems and more importantly, we're all pretty satisfied with the game right now. Which is I guess the most important part of gaming, that we are mostly satisfied and having fun. 

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