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Old 07-13-2019, 02:23 AM   #1
Refplace
 
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Default Character guides

So the thread about Ein? posting was closed because of a tangent.
But the threads over there have some interesting ideas I wanted to talk about here.
One guy said it sounded like GURPS requires training wheels because of its complexity in response to character templates.
So to the bloggers, lets make some.
I'm going to post guidelines for creating characters in GURPS and would like to see a few others do the same and see the different perspectives we can come up with before the next GURPSDay.
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Old 07-13-2019, 08:47 AM   #2
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Default Re: Character guides

My approach is to just give 'em the training wheels. I habitually make my own templates and/or use published ones fitted to every game I run, usually with some playable samples. My usual group has a wide range of play experience and style, including at least one guy who has played for years but almost always takes a sample, so it's not just for the noobs.
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Old 07-13-2019, 10:51 AM   #3
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Default Re: Character guides

Rather than templates, which are fine for players used to GURPS (because they know how things work and, thus, can go very fast with them), for totally beginners, I prefer using character examples, that is, characters for which everything is already chosen and calculated.

Indeed, just look at this example ...

Soldier of Fortune
100 points

You’re a warrior. You could be a soldier, pirate, knight-errant, gunslinger, street fighter, or guerrilla.
Attributes: ST 11 [10]; DX 13 [60]; IQ 11 [20]; HT 11 [10].
Secondary Characteristics: Dmg 1d-1/1d+1; BL 24 lbs.; HP 11 [0]; Will 11 [0]; Per 11 [0]; FP 11 [0]; Basic Speed 6.00 [0]; Basic Move 6 [0].
Advantages: 20 points chosen from among Ambidexterity [5], Charisma 1-4 [5-20], Combat Reflexes [15], Fit or Very Fit [5 or 15], High Pain Threshold [10], Luck [15], Magic Resistance 1-10 [2-20], Outdoorsman 1 [10], Rank 1-4 [5-20], Rapid Healing [5], Reputation [varies], Status 1-4 [5-20], Wealth (Comfortable) [10], +1 to ST or HT [10], +1 to +4 to HP [2-8], and +1 to +4 to Per [5-20].
Disadvantages: -35 points chosen from among Alcoholism [-15], Bad Temper [-10*], Bloodlust [-10*], Code of Honor [-5 to-15], Compulsive Carousing or Spending [-5*], Duty [-2 to -15], Fanaticism [-15], Flashbacks (Mild) [-5], Honesty [-10*], Impulsiveness [-10*], Lecherousness [-15*], Overconfidence [-5*], Sense of Duty Comrades) [-5], and Trademark (Simple) [-5].
Primary Skills: Select two skills from: Beam Weapons (any), Crossbow, or Guns (any), all (E) DX+2 [4]-15; Axe/Mace, Bow, Broadsword, Lance, Rapier, or Spear, all (A) DX+1 [4]-14; Karate (H) DX [4]-13; or Tactics (H) IQ [4]-11.
Secondary Skills: Select one skill from: Brawling, Fast-Draw (any), Gunner (any), Knife, or Shield (any), all (E) DX+1 [2]-14; or Artillery (any) or Forward Observer, both (A) IQ [2]-11. Select one skill from: Crewman (any) (E) IQ+1 [2]-12; Driving (any), Environment Suit (any), Piloting (any), Riding (any), all (A) DX [2]-13; Hiking (A) HT [2]-11; or Acrobatics (H) DX-1 [2]-12.
Background Skills: First Aid (E) IQ [1]-11. Select two skills from: Camouflage or Savoir-Faire (any), both (E) IQ [1]-11; Carousing or Swimming, both (E) HT [1]-11; Free Fall or Stealth, both (A) DX-1 [1]-12; Electronics Operation (Comm or Sensors), Explosives (any), or Leadership, all (A) IQ-1 [1]-10; or Observation, Survival (any), Tracking, or Urban Survival, all (A) Per-1 [1]-10.
*Multiplied for self-control number; see p. 120.


... If you don't already have a very good idea about how GURPS works, it is just a mess! What do all those abbreviations mean? What does every advantage or disadvantage mean? What do the brackets mean? What does those even more esoteric inscriptions like "(A) DX-1 [1]-12" mean? ... And so on ...

A newcomer will have to understand all that and, to do so, will ask the GM dozens of questions, just before choosing everything and making the good calculations to fit the good numbers ("20 points chosen from among ...", "-35 points chose from ...").

With a character example like this one things are different ...

Deborah Zucker, Medical Expert
[100 points]

Basic Attributes
- Strength: 10 [0]
- Dexterity: 10 [0]
- Intelligence: 14 [80]
- Health: 12 [20]
Secondary characteristics
- Hit Points: 10
- Will: 14
- Perception: 14
- Fatigue Points: 12
- Basic Damage: 1d-2/1d
- Basic Lift: 20
- Basic Speed: 5,5
- Basic Move: 5
- Dodge: 8
- Parry (bare handed): 8
- Block: 6
- Damage Resistance: 0
Advantages
- None
Disadvantages
- Honesty [-10]
- Sense of duty: toward all humanity [-15]
- Minor vow: vegetarism [-5]
Quirks
- None
Languages
- English (natal) [0]
Skills
- Biology: anatomy (Intelligence -1): 13 [2]
- Computer Using (Intelligence +0): 14 [1]
- Criminology (Intelligence +1): 15 [4]
- Diagnostic (Intelligence +0): 14 [4]
- First Aid (Intelligence +1): 15 [2]
- Guns: Revolver (Dexterity +0): 10 [1]
- Interrogation (Intelligence -1): 13 [1]
- Karate (Dexterity +0): 10 [4]
- Law : criminal, Oregon (Intelligence -2): 12 [1]
- Observation (Intelligence +0): 14 [2]
- Research (Intelligence +1): 15 [4]
- Running (Health -1): 11 [1]
- Surgery (Intelligence -2): 12 [2]
- Swimming (Health +0): 12 [1]


... Everything becomes more easy to read and understand. Only a couple of questions will be necessary before choosing the character example and the rest will be explained during the game.

Note that points costs are written in small size. It is very important to avoid hindering the reading (because, during play, you don't need them at all).
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Last edited by Gollum; 07-13-2019 at 01:29 PM.
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Old 07-16-2019, 01:30 PM   #4
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Default Re: Character guides

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gollum View Post
[SIZE="2"]Rather than templates, which are fine for players used to GURPS (because they know how things work and, thus, can go very fast with them), for totally beginners, I prefer using character examples, that is, characters for which everything is already chosen and calculated.
I think that one of GURPS's biggest flaws is readability, tbh. I know that at least one of my players looks at a standard template block and all she sees is a jumble of meaningless words and numbers. Your solution of the plain text, largely bulleted list is one I like a lot for readability. If I implement it for my own games, I might split up skills by category, but I don't know... there's something to be said for pure alphabetical order as well.

Compare a GURPS sheet to a World of Darkness or D&D sheet. There's a lot more information jam on to the GURPS sheet. Detail is one of GURPS's strengths, but that makes graphic design and information presentation even more important to avoid overload. I feel like the GURPS veterans on this board tend to take it for granted; they've already mastered it, why can't everyone else?

For example, consider a skill - let's say First Aid. How many pieces of information does that have when it's on a standard character sheet? Name, difficulty rating, cost, relative level, absolute level. (And the player should know what it allows their PC to do, but that's usually fine as a reference.) Multiply that over the 20-50 skills a typical PC might have and it's a lot more clutter on the sheet. The WoD version has two items: Name and level.

It'd be possible to run GURPS skills like that, I think; the GM would have to get used to calling out the base attribute for every skill rolle they requested, but "First Aid, +1" certainly looks prettier than "First Aid (A) (IQ+1) -13 [4]". It's also the kind of thing where you might need or want to keep a master sheet with all the numbers and data on it, and then an "at-the-table" sheet that is much cleaner and easier to use in play. It'd be a really nice option for GCA.

So I guess that's a player guide that I should work on: A guide for a new player to turn a jumble of words, abbreviations, and numbers into a clear sheet for playing a new game.

Some others I'd include:

Kromm's list of Skills Every Action Hero Has, and related lists of skills for appropriate campaign styles, annotated to explain why these skills are required or recommended. (Kromm's list isn't particularly relevant to Regency romance, for example.) Obviously the trait picker is really handy for building these guides.

Benchmarks, for players who want to build their own PCs or at least understand what a particular number means in context. This is already baked into GURPS, but I'd reference Kromm's post here, and also point out the oft-overlooked "+4 to skill for routine tasks" modifier. And then, depending on the campaign, some abbreviated example characters for a couple of power levels or roles that PCs can be compared to. ("I want to build someone that could go up against/be Young Conan/Darth Vader/Jay and Silent Bob/Dana Scully - how many points should I have and what should my skill levels be?") It's something that's obviously covered by templates as well, but see above text about walls of text.
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Old 07-16-2019, 02:17 PM   #5
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Default Re: Character guides

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gollum View Post
[...]If you don't already have a very good idea about how GURPS works, it is just a mess! What do all those abbreviations mean? What does every advantage or disadvantage mean? What do the brackets mean? What does those even more esoteric inscriptions like "(A) DX-1 [1]-12" mean? ... And so on ...
A newcomer will have to understand all that and, to do so, will ask the GM dozens of questions, just before choosing everything and making the good calculations to fit the good numbers ("20 points chosen from among ...", "-35 points chose from ...").
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apollonian View Post
I think that one of GURPS's biggest flaws is readability, tbh. I know that at least one of my players looks at a standard template block and all she sees is a jumble of meaningless words and numbers. Your solution of the plain text, largely bulleted list is one I like a lot for readability. If I implement it for my own games, I might split up skills by category, but I don't know... there's something to be said for pure alphabetical order as well.
Compare a GURPS sheet to a World of Darkness or D&D sheet. There's a lot more information jam on to the GURPS sheet. Detail is one of GURPS's strengths, but that makes graphic design and information presentation even more important to avoid overload. I feel like the GURPS veterans on this board tend to take it for granted; they've already mastered it, why can't everyone else?
Agreed! I when I use Character Assistant I end up using templates to group and simplify things as much as possible before printing out the characters. Digging through the skill lists is the worst part. Grouping skills by applicability would make the most sense, but determining what skill belongs in what group is a major effort (and there are duplicates!). For total beginners I would rely heavily on (!) skills to boil down complex blocks of skills into a single roll for everything.
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Old 07-16-2019, 02:19 PM   #6
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Default Re: Character guides

I like character sheets with 1 bit of Info per line

1 stat, 1 skill, 1 advantage, 1 quirk whatever but 1 item 1 line
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Old 07-16-2019, 03:00 PM   #7
Refplace
 
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Default Re: Character guides

My first of two posts on this subject.
https://refplace.blogspot.com/2019/0...ion-guide.html
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Old 07-16-2019, 04:04 PM   #8
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Default Re: Character guides

A character template/build would really rely on what books and rules you decide to use.
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Old 07-16-2019, 07:34 PM   #9
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Default Re: Character guides

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalzazz View Post
I like character sheets with 1 bit of Info per line

1 stat, 1 skill, 1 advantage, 1 quirk whatever but 1 item 1 line
Agree! I've run a bunch of GURPS games at conventions recently. For context, 80% of the players have never played GURPS before. The rest might have played it years ago. I learned a lot about how to make character sheets more readable for new players:
  • For skills, just give the level. Broadsword-13. It's fairly rare in a game, especially one with newer players, to need relative level. And if it comes up, you can kind of fudge it with "I'll give you a modifier -- add the difference between your IQ and DX for that roll"
  • I always gray-out the point costs so they're barely visible. Some players like knowing that information because they can see if something is worth 15 points, it should be awesome. Other players could care less.
  • I always use the simplified range/speed table on the back of the sheet, versus the full one. The full one just reinforces GURPS is really complicated...
  • For some advantages and disadvantages, I give a few words what it does on the sheet. Something like Impulsiveness is fine to keep as-is. But something like Honesty I'll add (doesn't break the law) because it's not obvious to people that that's different from being truthful. Or an advantage like Fit I'll write (+1 to all HT rolls) so players get and benefit from it.
  • I leave off the "(12 or less)" information on most disadvantages, except for things like Contacts or Enemies. I found this information added too much noise that confused players.
  • Placards. I always use character placards that in addition to names has any "GM" advantages listed on it (Danger Sense, Intuition, Enemy, etc.). This helps remind me AND shows other players how some cool advantages work. It's easy to forget that these kinds of "GM will tell you X" powers are fairly unique to GURPS, so making them visible has caused new players to say "oh that's cool!"

Obviously I try to avoid really complicated character builds as well.

These strategies took me a while to figure out, but they've been working great. I usually hear compliment after a game like "wow, GURPS is easier than Pathfinder..."

If you want to check out my convention-ready GURPS adventures with those pre-created characters, check out my blog: 1shotadventures.com
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Old 07-16-2019, 07:59 PM   #10
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Default Re: Character guides

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gollum View Post
- Honesty [-10]
Note that you shouldn't give this one to new players because it is a place where GURPS and modern English usage diverge.
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