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Thread: GURPS opinions

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    Question GURPS opinions

    I've mostly been playing DnD for almost all of my tabletop RPGing career, with a few exceptions, but I was looking to possibly move on, or at least take a break. I was looking at GURPS the other day, and I was wondering what everyone else thinks. I've only been able to glance at the rulebook, and the rest of my knowledge comes from cobbling together hearsay. As I understand, it's a "generic" RP system, with rules that aren't really attached to any flavor/world, as DnD is, and that the rules allow you to do potentially anything with them. This seems incredibly cool to me, but I have no way of knowing if it's well executed. What is it like from the player's perspective? I know that it uses point buy, but how is advancement decided? Is "magic" something assumed to be used, or does the GM have to create a system for that on his own? Most importantly, however, I'd like to hear what people think of it, and whether they could reccomend a better system that could serve similar needs.

    Oh, and please tell me why you think what you do. This is vitally important.
    Last edited by averagejoe; 2008-01-24 at 12:04 AM.


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    Default Re: Grups opinions

    I've been considering it, if my scary evil twin didn't play it i would want too.
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    Last edited by EvilElitest; 2008-01-23 at 11:33 PM.

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    Default Re: Grups opinions

    It's not bad. Task resolution is based on a 3d6 system, so you get a more bell-curvy distribution of outcomes. This is fine when the players are in the middle of the bell curve to a few points beyond the middle with their skill levels, but can be problematic when PCs have a lot of skills in the upper teens and low 20s.

    Advancement is mainly by GM fiat, as is starting power level. Fantasy type games probably will be in the 75-150 point range for starting characters. 150 might even be a bit high if you're just starting out, but it would be analogous to starting somewhere around 4th-5th level in D&D 3.5.

    There are small sections on magic and psionics in the Basic Set rules. GURPS Magic is a worthwhile investment for a sword-and-sorcery type campaign.

    Character options are extremely flexible. Good for somewhat experience players, but it can be a drawback for beginners. It's also an attribute-heavy system -- high attributes make it easier to get high skill levels across many skills. This problem is probably even more pronounced in GURPS than it is in D&D. On the other hand, magic items typically do much less in terms of defining your character's capabilities in GURPS than they do in D&D.
    Last edited by Ted_Stryker; 2008-01-23 at 11:59 PM.

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    Default Re: Grups opinions

    I think you mean GURPS. Grups, as far as I know, is the Greek word for griffin.
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    Default Re: Grups opinions

    Could you go into more detail about GURPS compared to D&D
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    Default Re: Grups opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by Guildorn Tanaleth View Post
    I think you mean GURPS. Grups, as far as I know, is the Greek word for griffin.
    Ah, thank you. I hate it when I make those sorts of mistakes. How do you say that? It appears that it would have a short "u" but I'm far from knowledgeable.


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    what does it stand for
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    Here's how Sean Punch, line editor of GURPS 4th Ed. says one should 'sell' the best points of GURPS, while dismissing some misconceptions of the game.

    The fact that it has precisely one task-resolution mechanism: "Take a score, add a modifier, and roll three six-sided dice under the result." If you can "get" a game where some success rolls are d20 + modifiers/roll high, others are d%/roll low, and yet others are sum Nd<whatever>/see if you can get X . . . well, you can certainly "get" rolling 3d6 under a score, every time. Even if you drag in effect rolls (reactions, damage, Fright Checks, whatever), it's still only two sorts of rolls, and they all use the ordinary d6.

    The fact that it has precisely one kind of points. You don't have a pool of attribute levels, a number of feats, and a bunch of skill points, none of which are related in any clear way. Moreover, the experience points are the points you use for buying -- not a number you use for a table lookup to find a level that tells you how many of three other kinds of points you get to spend.

    On a bad day, I find it close to offensive that people have the gall to call the game "complicated" when its basic character-creation and game-play rules are just about trivial. What they really mean, of course, is that there are lots of modifiers for success rolls and lots of choices to spend points on. I guess that brings me to the third thing I'd pimp: almost everything is optional -- and clearly marked as such -- so the GM has lots of control and there's never any requirement to go whole-hog and use the whole darn game.

    There are also approaches I often hear but think are bad for people who aren't already fans:

    "It's realistic." No RPG is, really. If you black-box all the rules and just look at the outcomes, you get a sense of realism. That isn't the same as being line-and-paragraph realistic. Sure, we reality-check stuff . . . but that's more to avoid howlers than to ensure realism positively.

    "It's cross-genre." It can handle lots of genres. It can handle cross-genre. But most gamers don't play cross-genre, and in fact associate it with twinky, dorky gaming. Most gamers stick to a genre. It's fine to sell GURPS as supporting most genres, but not so smart to sell it as a cross-genre game.

    "It has worldbooks for everything." Counting everything from 1e to 4e, there are lots of worldbooks. But there are notable gaps, particularly through history (where entire continents and centuries have no coverage), and in certain genres (the entire post-apocalypse genre comes to mind, as does interplanar fantasy). Really, the GM who wants "everything" ends up making up most of it, which is not a selling point.
    I would describe GURPS as a Games Toolkit as much as I would a game in and of itself. GURPS requires work on the part of the GM to define is world, his campaign, and how it will be played. It also offers a lot more flexibility however, and can accommodate most settings, styles, and players

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cybren View Post
    Here's how Sean Punch, line editor of GURPS 4th Ed. says one should 'sell' the best points of GURPS, while dismissing some misconceptions of the game.



    I would describe GURPS as a Games Toolkit as much as I would a game in and of itself. GURPS requires work on the part of the GM to define is world, his campaign, and how it will be played. It also offers a lot more flexibility however, and can accommodate most settings, styles, and players
    wow, that seems like something i'd like (damn evil twin,) but does it work as well as it sounds?

    Damn i sound like i'm in an advirtismet
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    GURPS stands for Generic Universal Role-Playing System. The biggest advantage to GURPS over other "universal" role-playing systems is that it has some truly excellent supplements.

    I mean, GURPS Religion is probably the best book on the subject I've ever read. In fact, it's so good that I expected Deities and Demigods to be like it and as such found Deities and Demigods to be crappy and boring.

    Prior editions of GURPS were a lot more... "spread out" so to speak - if you wanted to know about how to play in a Supers world (rules-wise) you had to buy GURPS Supers. If you wanted to know how to play in a campaign with aliens, you had to buy GURPS Aliens.

    I was just flipping through GURPS Space to make sure this has changed, and it has. All the abilities listed are page references to the core books, so a person can easily find them there if you don't want to buy Space.

    However, I would like to recommend that you check out a competitor before committing yourself to GURPS fully: Hero System. It's also a universal RPG. I haven't really got a good grasp on GURPS 4E so I can't say which has a more intuitive and versatile powers set-up, but at least in prior editions, Hero far outpaced GURPS in this regard.

    In 3E, GURPS had dozens of different ways of doing a thing: magic spells were skills, psionics had their own system, the exact same ability costed a different number of points depending on whether it was "Toughness" or "Damage Resistance" and there were two kinds of superpowers in the Supers book.

    Whereas Hero System runs Psionic abilities, Magic spells and superhuman abilities the exact same way - as Powers with Modifiers: a psionic energy blast might have the modifiers Based on EGO Combat Value, Does No Knockback, and Indirect, whereas a magic energy blast might have the modifiers Requires A Skill Roll, Guestures, and Incantations.
    Last edited by Cyclone231; 2008-01-24 at 12:51 AM.
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    To illustrate some differences from D&D:
    GURPS has no levels, which is something I imagine people will already know. But it is also designed without the assumption of broadly linearly increasing capability. Thus it is possible to make a 'master' character in even the most humble campaigns.
    GURPS is internally consistent, and GURPS sourcebooks or worldbooks are extremely well written, to the point that many gamers who don't play GURPS still buy the books to use in other games as references.

    Like D&D, it will make concessions or assumptions in favor of the PCs, but unlike D&D there is no assumption that the PCs are heroes and super kewl and all the NPCs are losers and never will be as good. The comparative powerlevel between the PCs and NPCs is set by the GM, and governed by genre, not by the game system. Try running any style of D&D game other than heroic dungeon fantasy, and you'll have to stop leveling or use a houserule like E6, whereas in GURPS you can still award points but if the PCs don't have access to cinematic or exotic techniques, they will still be able to progress

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    Has the best character creation / alignment system I've ever seen.

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    Just as a note, I don't know the current edition of GURPS. I last played with 3rd edition, and it was a modern-world sci-fi setting, so I'm not that familiar with the fantasy/magic aspects of GURPS.

    GURPS is wonderfully simple to play, being as there's one single resolution mechanic. Character generation however, is *very* tedious, as the level of detail and number of options is very high. It helps if the GM goes through all the books and notes out which options are valid for the intended setting and which aren't, because the sheer number of options is somewhat overwhelming.

    Most GURPS sourcebooks are different campaign settings. There are several that are just equipment books, spell-listing books, etc., but most of them are individual campaign settings. There are few, if any, GURPS equivalent to D&D modules, so there's a lot more reliance on the GM doing the world-building and adventure writing.

    If you use the 'standard' GURPS Magic system, it's a lot more complex and lower-powered than D&D. It's pretty much impossible to convert a D&D Wizard to GURPS because each spell has prereqs, and each spell is defined as a skill.

    Basically, my opinion is that GURPS is a *lot* more reliant on the GM than D&D is on the DM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone231 View Post
    Prior editions of GURPS were a lot more... "spread out" so to speak - if you wanted to know about how to play in a Supers world (rules-wise) you had to buy GURPS Supers. If you wanted to know how to play in a campaign with aliens, you had to buy GURPS Aliens.

    I was just flipping through GURPS Space to make sure this has changed, and it has. All the abilities listed are page references to the core books, so a person can easily find them there if you don't want to buy Space.
    I've seen those sourcebooks, but to clarify: am I correct in thinking that the books don't actually do anything that the GM can't do himself within the core rules, and they're mainly handy for the GM to not have to do the work himself?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone
    However, I would like to recommend that you check out a competitor before committing yourself to GURPS fully: Hero System. It's also a universal RPG. I haven't really got a good grasp on GURPS 4E so I can't say which has a more intuitive and versatile powers set-up, but at least in prior editions, Hero far outpaced GURPS in this regard.
    That's actually good to know. I've seen the Hero system, but from the title I thought it was a superheroes game, like Champions or what have you.


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    Quote Originally Posted by averagejoe View Post
    I've seen those sourcebooks, but to clarify: am I correct in thinking that the books don't actually do anything that the GM can't do himself within the core rules, and they're mainly handy for the GM to not have to do the work himself?
    Yes. The modern 4E supplements are mostly just flavor (along with prebuilt character packages like Consort or Soldier or whatever), at least as far as I know.
    Quote Originally Posted by averagejoe View Post
    That's actually good to know. I've seen the Hero system, but from the title I thought it was a superheroes game, like Champions or what have you.
    Hero System originally started off as Champions, but it's a universal setting now. So yeah.
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    Default Re: GURPS opinions

    Disclaimer: I have not played GURPS nor claim to know a lot about the system. I have, however, looked into it and reviewed for my own games.

    Personally, I don't like GURPS for two reasons:
    1) too much reliance on the GM, I almost always GM and I already have too much to do.
    2) GURPS is too spread out and I would need to buy just as many books if I went with a variety of systems.

    I do not wish to discourage you if you really want to play it or try it out, its just not made for people like me. I will agree that it is an amazing system, but I prefer to find the best system for each genre and many times its not GURPS. My group and I don't mind learning new systems because they usually don't take too much time for us. We play Cyberpunk 2020 for its realistic lethality and massive amounts of cybergear and weaponry. Then we play Mutants and Masterminds 2e for superhero games because it is very simple but you can do anything with it. We also play WoD's Vampire and Werewolf for their respective genres and then D&D for high fantasy. I have looked at many options, but for myself and my group these are the best for the games we are interested in. However, many people would not want to learn a large variety of systems, so GURPS is great for them, if you don't mind learning new systems, I suggest you look into systems built specifically for their genre.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Tataraus View Post
    Disclaimer: I have not played GURPS nor claim to know a lot about the system. I have, however, looked into it and reviewed for my own games.

    Personally, I don't like GURPS for two reasons:
    1) too much reliance on the GM, I almost always GM and I already have too much to do.
    2) GURPS is too spread out and I would need to buy just as many books if I went with a variety of systems.

    I do not wish to discourage you if you really want to play it or try it out, its just not made for people like me. I will agree that it is an amazing system, but I prefer to find the best system for each genre and many times its not GURPS. My group and I don't mind learning new systems because they usually don't take too much time for us. We play Cyberpunk 2020 for its realistic lethality and massive amounts of cybergear and weaponry. Then we play Mutants and Masterminds 2e for superhero games because it is very simple but you can do anything with it. We also play WoD's Vampire and Werewolf for their respective genres and then D&D for high fantasy. I have looked at many options, but for myself and my group these are the best for the games we are interested in. However, many people would not want to learn a large variety of systems, so GURPS is great for them, if you don't mind learning new systems, I suggest you look into systems built specifically for their genre.
    I would have to say that 1) GURPS is only reliant in the DM in that it gives the GM more freedom to define the game, and that 2) the Basic Set is all you need to play in 4th edition. GURPS Sourcebooks are additional information to expand the rules in certain areas, and GURPS Worldbooks are mostly campaign world creation information about certain genres. For a "in the box" setting see something like GURPS Banestorm or Infinite Worlds. There are also genre that really aren't covered by other systems, and some genre that are fairly unique to GURPS (Cross genre and historical settings being somewhat popular in some GURPS circles, and are decidedly much harder to do with other systems)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cybren View Post
    I would have to say that 1) GURPS is only reliant in the DM in that it gives the GM more freedom to define the game, and that 2) the Basic Set is all you need to play in 4th edition. GURPS Sourcebooks are additional information to expand the rules in certain areas, and GURPS Worldbooks are mostly campaign world creation information about certain genres. For a "in the box" setting see something like GURPS Banestorm or Infinite Worlds. There are also genre that really aren't covered by other systems, and some genre that are fairly unique to GURPS (Cross genre and historical settings being somewhat popular in some GURPS circles, and are decidedly much harder to do with other systems)
    Hmm...well, I probably looked at 3rd edition, so some of my dislikes might be eliminated, though I think the character creation process still is very long on both the GM's and player's side of it. Also, the games my group plays are the only genres we're really interested in, two of my players hate historical genres and I'll never play any modern or sci-fi game other than Cyberpunk 2020 (or an adaption of it) because its combat is just too good, unless the system has a really awesome fluff like WARS RPG. Though I might look into GURPS 4th edition to see whats different.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone231 View Post
    Whereas Hero System runs Psionic abilities, Magic spells and superhuman abilities the exact same way - as Powers with Modifiers: a psionic energy blast might have the modifiers Based on EGO Combat Value, Does No Knockback, and Indirect, whereas a magic energy blast might have the modifiers Requires A Skill Roll, Guestures, and Incantations.
    GURPS 4th edition now allows you to do this as well, creating spells as Powers in almost exactly the same way you describe, but the base Magic system as it stands with spells as skills is apparently the baby of Steve Jackson himself, which explains a bit why it has stayed how it is.
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    I've played a bit of GURPS in my day.
    The system is sound, though as somebody has already stated, it is very Stat heavy (ie it is always better to invest in stats in character gen than skills etc)
    The thing I've found with it is that if you have a particular genre in mind GURPS always seems the second best system to use.
    It is excellent for cross genre games, but if I were looking for a system to adopt I might start with the genre and look for a game designed with that in mind. Don't get me wrong GURPS is fine, it's just there are easier, faster flowing setting specific systems out there.
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    The maths of attributes and skills does, indeed, make it cheaper to pump the attributes, especially IQ, and only put a few points in each skill. If you're not careful, this can lead to generalists with many, overlapping skills. This has been fixed in 4e with the introduction of Talents, which add to a specific set of skills but are cheaper than the attributes. This encourages the creation of specialists.
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    I play GURPS as much as I play D&D, and I really do prefer GURPS overall. I like flexibility and choice, which GURPS gives in spades. The only "clone" characters I've seen in GURPS have been due to player inexperience/lack of imagination/ what have you, rather than the inherent similarity between many D&D characters. I know that D&D has flexibility, but GURPS can do it without 7 books.

    Now, the style of character generation takes a bit of getting used to, if you are used to class-based play. GURPS added templates with 4e, which vaguely resemble classes, but are really just there to help novice players. It's important to remember that you aren't assigning a character a "vocation" or "skillset", but rather looking holistically at exactly what you would like to create, then do so. There are a lot of choices.

    I will say that, because of the amount of choice, a more experienced player will be better served with GURPS. D&D is a better "out of the box" experience for most novice players, because choices are more set in stone. GURPS isn't harder - rather, a novice would have a "kid in a candystore" moment - there are a lot of good choices.

    The GM has a lot of work in a GURPS campaign, but I would argue that the DM has just as much work. GURPS games, I've found, end up being more collaborative, because the GM and players are working toward what choices will be found within the game, rather that dealing with a set of static outcomes and predicted plateaus.
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    I love GURPS and haven't played it nearly enough. It takes a while to get into and internalize the mechanics but once you've got the basic system you're good to go in any genre which I like and it replicates any level of "realism" dependant on what the DM allows. Since its got just one mechanic it can go really fast after a while.

    Also it's got about the best replication of combat in RPGs for my taste, players get better and better but combat is always scarey, a knife wound always hurts and arrows are no-ones friend. Plus the spells as skills and using them drains fatigue is just the best way to run magic. It's powerful enough to be useful, reliable and easy enough to be used throughout the day/dungeon/adventure and unreliable/draining enough not to be just thrown around and abused into overshadowing everything else.
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    What I like about GURPS:

    -Point based system allows you to fully customize your character. You can go broad or deep as you see fit and mix and match what you want.

    -dice resolution. 3d6 curve is pretty intuitive and its very easy to get running with it. Novice gamers may need help building characters, but can run an existing one without too much trouble.

    -its gritty. Critical hits and lower hitpoints means that you sweat all encounters. It is a really excellent system for modern horror campaigns and the like. (this could be a downside to some.)

    What I dislike about GURPS:

    -Magic. Gurps magic is a confusing throwback to old systems with spell pre-requisites creating confusing chains. Spells have very short ranges, and it doesn't feel at all epic.

    -encounter balancing. This is really hard. There are no useful guidelines and a few tweaks to an NPC can turn a wimp into someone near unkillable. (mostly in the area of defenses and health rolls)

    -Stat dominance. Most skills default as stat-X. Pump your stats to the roof and default everything. They've fixed it some, but I still don't like it. I think there should be many fewer default skills. Make people spend points in skills.

    Overall, I wouldn't recommend it for a fantasy setting game.

    I also personally prefer hero for flexibility. It lacks the grittiness of GURPS, but I think the overall system is better constructed, and you can easily adapt the normal power system to a magic system. It requires some upfront work, but its quite doable. Also, I think encounter balancing is significantly more intuitive in Hero than in GURPS.

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    I think I forgot to mention probably the biggest difference between GURPS and D&D
    GURPS character points are not a measure of combat effectiveness. GURPS is designed with the assumption that adventurers will have as much, or more non-combat tasks and scenes as they do combat. Points measure the general effectiveness of the character, across all avenues of adventuring and such.

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    Why not download GURPS 4e Lite from Steve Jackson Games and check it out for yourself? There's a free adventure lurking around there as well as a 3e Lite document.
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    Default Re: GURPS opinions

    A few months ago, I hesitantly introduced GURPS to my gaming group with the knowledge that they disliked systems other than D&D, but hopes that they would consider it. To my surprise, the response was "I wish we would have learned this instead of D&D and not wasted out time for the past seven years." This is not typical, of course. In particular, I love the skill and combat system. It is based upon attack and defense options rather than stagnant numbers (a defense roll instead of AC, but where you have different types of defenses).
    Johannes factotum of the Bard Defense League

    "A witty saying proves nothing." -Voltaire

    "Jack of all trades, master of none, though ofttimes better than master of one."

    The main question that any DM should ask before making a house-rule or exception is, "Is it balanced?"

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: GURPS opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by Severus View Post
    What I dislike about GURPS:

    -Magic. Gurps magic is a confusing throwback to old systems with spell pre-requisites creating confusing chains. Spells have very short ranges, and it doesn't feel at all epic.
    See, this is precisely what I like about the GURPS magic system. D&D magic is too epic and too arbitrary for my taste. GURPS magic feels more "real" and believable to me than D&D magic--as real as any pretend magic system in a tabletop RPG can feel, anyway...
    Last edited by WhiteHarness; 2008-01-25 at 12:41 PM.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGuy

    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Default Re: GURPS opinions

    I am a big fan of GURPS. It is the ideal game for a group of players who know the concept of the charaters they would like to play and a GM who knows exactly what kind of world he wants to run.

    GURPS doesn't give you a lot of "hey, this is how it is". GURPS is a toolbox that says, "Hey, we think this would be a cool way to resolve -blah-, if it works for the game you're running." The GM also has to feel empowered to say "No!" to blantant abuse of the gaming group, even if it works by the point. (What constitutes abuse is highly variable from group to group, I've found.)

    Some genres are easier to run with it then others. D&D is almost its own genre, so to run a D&D style game in GURPS takes some work and a good set of rules choices. The more plausible a genre is, the easier it tends to be to run.
    So, there I was, innocently telling a gaming buddy a story of disablism on a trip to the bank. "I was at the head of the party, so I opened the door for the group, and then this lady..." That was when my buddy interrupted me to say, "Tokah, this is the geekiest story about a bank I've ever heard."

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    Default Re: GURPS opinions

    Here's my 2 cents from playing GURPS:

    1) Character creation is fun, but lends itself well to number crunching/min-maxing. One player took the 'weak bite' flaw to get bonus points, despite the fact that it would never come into play. It didn't seem nearly as smooth as M&Ms (another point based game).

    2) Despite 1)'s nuances, I had a very interesting character that I liked. He had a 'tick' where he wrapped his cloak around him Bela Lugosi style whenever he left a room. However, I took the 'indecisive' flaw, which for 5 points made my character utterly useless. That was a huge let down, and re-tooling the character would have led to chain reaction of lost abilities.

    3) Combat was terrible. It took our group (3/4 of us were veteran gamers that have played everything from D&D to Toon to WoD Vampire/Werewolf to Rifts, etc...) and it seemed VERY complicated/pointless. It took us about 3 hours to resolve a bar fight between 4 players and 3 thugs. It was mostly 'attack -> miss' - 'attack -> parried' - 'attack -> dodged' with very little in the way of actual hits. Also, the quarterstaff was statistically the best weapon, which seemed very odd. Comparable damage to a sword, extra reach and a bonus to your parry roll. We had a party of quarterstaff wielders because we could not find a better weapon. Also, after combat was done, we , we realized we were only using half the combat rules (shocks, stuns, and other stuff...).

    4) The fact that female characters get superior armor bonuses for walking around partially clothed was included in the rules made me feel alot 'nerdier' just for playing the game. From a numbers perspective, a bunch of chain mail bikini wearing female quarterstaff combatants are nigh invulnerable.

    In conclusion, it had the potential to be fun, but the combat mechanics made it a dreadful experience.

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