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Old 04-07-2019, 12:23 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Idaho Falls, Idaho
Default Best Tool for the Job – When would you use TFT/DFRPG/GDF?

For “Tools”, in the Steve Jackson Games tool box, we have:
The Fantasy Trip (TFT)
Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (DFRPG)
GURPS Dungeon Fantasy (GDF)

The “Job” in this case, in general, is dungeon fantasy genre roleplaying games.
But within the dungeon fantasy genre, there are different styles of play.

In your opinion –
When/what style of game, would you use each for?
Have you actually done so?
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Old 04-07-2019, 12:57 PM   #2
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Default Re: Best Tool for the Job – When would you use TFT/DFRPG/GDF?

I used GURPS Dungeon Fantasy until Dungeon Fantasy RPG came out. I had just started with DFRPG when TFT came back. So I switched back to TFT; my very favorite RPG. To be brutally honest, the only reason I picked up DFRPG is because it was "closer" to TFT in complexity and I didn't think (at that time) that there was any possibility I'd ever see TFT back in print in my lifetime. If TFT had been available and in common usage, I wouldn't have bothered with GURPS or DFRPG at all...

So, I used them in that order as they became available (which, you will note, is also in order of decreasing complexity). I didn't use TFT straight through, because a lot of players didn't want to play an "old" game, but now that everything old is new again, that's changing. TFT is the latest shiny whistle now.

I also used TFT to introduce my sons (and quite a few other people, over the years) to role-playing (but this was back in the late 90's now, when TFT was "only" 15-20 years old), because a new player can pick it up in five minutes and because they can "see" what their characters are actually doing on the map. From there, the basic concepts are understood, and they can pick up more "difficult" games more easily. I still think that TFT is the best all around RPG out there, but I can also attest to how easily it sucks in brand-new, never-before-played, people.
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Old 04-07-2019, 01:12 PM   #3
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: Best Tool for the Job – When would you use TFT/DFRPG/GDF?

I have used TFT from 1980-1986, when GURPS came out. Having played that much TFT, and being simulationist types, we were eager for more detail, so we embraced GURPS.

I have used GURPS for almost all my roleplaying up until TFT's reappearance last year. I have some DFG material, and the DFRPG, but I don't expect to use it much if ever, except as source material for playing GURPS in fantasy settings that are not DF, because DF is more D&D-like than I like. I started with TFT, never liked D&D, and my games tend to be more like TFT or in other directions away from D&D-like. I still sometimes have large underground places to explore etc., but but the DF/D&D style isn't what I want.

That said, I might use or recommend DFRPG for people who do want to play with D&D-type tropes (cliche` classes, lots of PC powers, lots of high-powered monsters which may have puzzle aspects due to invulnerabilties, etc.) yet have the advantages Powered-By-GURPS offers, especially nice tactical hexmap-based combat, freedom to diverge from classes and have unique characters, and much more logical and less weird mechanics than you get in other game systems.

I recommend TFT as a great fast/easy into to fantasy RPG play in the style I do like: logical, with a mapped tactical combat game where what/where/how you choose to act is at least as important to your (uncertain) odds of survival as "what level is your character" or "how many hitpoints do you have left".

I recommend GURPS as a great "advanced" ruleset for playing the same style of play, which is what I've almost always used GURPS for. But I might tend to suggest the 3e Basic Set over 4e, because 4e is stuffed with material for many other types of game (supers, sci fi, etc) and has complex point-buy systems and mixes it all together in a form even I (with decades of experience with the system) find a bit overwhelming.

I recommend DFG for GURPS players who want the material in the DFG books for whatever purpose (e.g. extra monsters).
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Old 04-07-2019, 01:13 PM   #4
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Default Re: Best Tool for the Job – When would you use TFT/DFRPG/GDF?

As I sort things out, I'm inclined to use TFT for what I originally used it for all those years ago: a top-notch, lightweight tactical combat game. I still see that as the core function of the game, though that may be because I started with the microgame all those years ago, which set my perceptions of the game.

For my own GMing purposes, I'd be inclined to run the DFRPG for new players if I were going to run a full-blown RPG campaign. It gives me the power and detail that I want from an RPG without the added overhead to new players of even seeing the full GURPS system.

And with experienced players, it's GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. That gives me a well-defined starting place, but has all the doors open for all the GURPS goodness I might ever want to use.
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Old 04-07-2019, 03:42 PM   #5
Chris Rice
Join Date: Dec 2017
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Default Re: Best Tool for the Job – When would you use TFT/DFRPG/GDF?

GURPS is way too crunchy for my tastes, so I'd never use that or Dungeon Fantasy for anything. If I want a bit more crunch, which I did back in the day, I'd just add some carefully chosen stuff to TFT. Nowadays I think I'll be tempted to stick to using it pretty much RAW, at least initially. If I end up with a long running game, I'd just make the same changes I made to TFT before.

The only contender to TFT would be if I wanted an even lighter game. In the past, I'd use TFT but largely gloss over the tactical boardgame aspects. Nowadays, I'd probably use one of the modern "rules lite" systems like Barbarians of Lemuria. Having said that, the mechanics of TFT are so ingrained with me that I might not even bother doing that.
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Old 04-07-2019, 03:56 PM   #6
Join Date: Dec 2017
Default Re: Best Tool for the Job – When would you use TFT/DFRPG/GDF?

I've played a lot of both TFT and GURPS. While I had a ~10 year period when I played more of the latter than the former, at this point I only think of GURPS when I want to play a campaign that is well suited to relatively realistic treatment of characters, actions, etc. and that is substantially outside of the wheelhouse of classic fantasy gaming. At this point, I think if someone is swinging a sword around and/or casting a spell, TFT is the better game at the the table. Perhaps if you are going to do a super simulationist treatment of a one on one duel I would still go for GURPS, but in any other sort of situation its level of granularity can be a bit much. And I don't like the ways you can 'game' character creation. Dungeon Fantasy could have been something that hit a happy medium for me, but after checking it out I decided the happy medium between TFT and GURPS is just TFT.
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Old 04-07-2019, 06:09 PM   #7
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Default Re: Best Tool for the Job – When would you use TFT/DFRPG/GDF?

TFT rocks. It is fast, furious, and fun. And it is easy on the GM, since statting up NPCs and monsters is a snap.

GURPS is great, too, though, especially if you want something with more detail (more difference between crushing and impaling weapons, for instance) or with greater GM control over how magic works. GURPS offers many more options for customization.
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Old 04-07-2019, 08:08 PM   #8
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Default Re: Best Tool for the Job – When would you use TFT/DFRPG/GDF?

Originally Posted by Shostak View Post
And it is easy on the GM, since statting up NPCs and monsters is a snap.
I will agree. Love RQ, but starting everything is a pain. D&D just rolls hit point. None of that in TFT. Idea in head goes straight to table. Very nicely done.
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Old 04-07-2019, 09:41 PM   #9
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Default Re: Best Tool for the Job – When would you use TFT/DFRPG/GDF?

I would use TFT if I wanted the game to play like TFT, and DF/DFRPG if I wanted it to play like GURPS. They aren't really tools, they're just different solutions in the same general space.
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Old 04-08-2019, 10:55 AM   #10
Join Date: Aug 2005
Default Re: Best Tool for the Job – When would you use TFT/DFRPG/GDF?

I started with D&D three little books, then went to Traveller three little books plus many, many more then went to TFT. I eventually transferred to GURPS 3e and created a huge campaign that went from prehistoric to post Traveller universe. GURPS 4e left me cold, though I did transition the characters. It just did not have the same feel. Never got into either DFRPG or GDF - saw no purpose. With TFT back, looking forward to some good play again. I still have a lot of my personal conversions of classic modules which I can use. For me, TFT handles everything other than modern/scifi eras better than anything else around - particularly because it doesn't involve supernatural beings.
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dfrpg, gurps df, tft

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