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Old 07-22-2020, 06:56 PM   #21
Raekai
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Default Re: Alternatives to GURPS? Other tabletop RPGs to try?

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Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
That probably means you shouldn't be looking for a system at all; you should start by looking for a game whose setting seems interesting, then take a look at the system the game uses and see if it appalls you (it might; 'good at designing settings' and 'good at designing rules' are orthogonal traits at best). If it doesn't, use that system, as using the 'house' system often gets the feel of the setting best (not always; 'fails to emulate its own genre' is a legit rule system criticism). If it does, convert it to a system you like better (and be aware that doing so may significantly change the style of the game; you can convert Shadowrun to GURPS but characters that are nominally equivalent in SR are ridiculously different point value in GURPS).

I would generally discourage using GURPS for games that use powers, because powers in GURPS are priced to discourage people from taking them, whereas most settings that use powers envision most PCs having powers, meaning they should be priced to encourage powers; if you're going to convert a powers-heavy setting to a generic system, I'd use one tuned towards superheroes (includes BESM, Hero, Mutants and Masterminds). My current preference of those three would be M&M, though all of them have flaws.
Those first few sentences are golden to me. You've got an excellent point there. I might be putting the cart before the horse (as it were).

Dealing with powers is definitely something I've struggled with a lot in GURPS, and I'm glad I'm not alone with that conundrum. At the very least, I'll be giving Mutants and Masterminds a solid read to see what wisdom I can glean from it.
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Old 07-23-2020, 03:56 AM   #22
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Default Re: Alternatives to GURPS? Other tabletop RPGs to try?

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powers in GURPS are priced to discourage people from taking them, whereas most settings that use powers envision most PCs having powers, meaning they should be priced to encourage powers
I think there's an assumption in GURPS that your stuff will be taken away sometimes. It's cheaper in points for me to buy a gun and be reasonably competent with it than to buy a power that will work like a gun in terms of range and damage and so on, but the actual gun won't always be available to me because I'm in a place with weapon laws, trying to be sneaky, imprisoned and stripped of gear, etc. (And if I take a power-modifier discount on my gunlike power, that's also an explicit acceptance that sometimes I'll be meeting a power neutraliser of some kind.)

This is fine, but it does run into the problem that you find yourself thinking "I could spend 100 points on powers, or I could spend them on being so rich and charismatic that everyone will just do what I want anyway". Thus the bandage of point pools: of your 200 initial points, 100 must be spent on powers, and the rest may be spent on anything you like including more powers.
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Old 07-23-2020, 06:05 AM   #23
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Default Re: Alternatives to GURPS? Other tabletop RPGs to try?

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That probably means you shouldn't be looking for a system at all; you should start by looking for a game whose setting seems interesting, then take a look at the system the game uses and see if it appalls you (it might; 'good at designing settings' and 'good at designing rules' are orthogonal traits at best). If it doesn't, use that system, as using the 'house' system often gets the feel of the setting best (not always; 'fails to emulate its own genre' is a legit rule system criticism).
I'll third this. Also think about the core activity of the game -- fighting? investigating? social/politics?, exploring? other? -- and what system best supports that.

If it's fighting -- realistic/dramatic?, cinematic?, superpowered? Do you want your fights to go quickly or slowly, lots of tactical decisions and modifiers or roll and go?

Related question is how do you want damage and healing to work? Do you need something that handles mental or social stress? Metaphysical stress? Morale?

Does it need to handle powers -- magic/psi/supers/superscience?

Is gear important? Is the story about what the characters have (and can get) or what they do? (This was one of my problems with West End Star Wars when the gear books started coming out -- it became more about the tech and less about the iconic PCs vs. the Empire.)

If its investigating -- Gumshoe, Dr. Who, and GURPS Mysteries offer different takes on how to do it. (Heck, it's worth glancing at all three and picking what you like for inspiration.)

For social/political -- Lace & Steel, Kinfolk, and Bubblegumshoe offer different takes on it. Emily Care Boss has some interesting stuff out on romance as a gaming genre.

What about advancement? Fast or slow? Zero to Hero or already competent and will only change a bit over the campaign.
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Old 07-23-2020, 09:17 AM   #24
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Default Re: Alternatives to GURPS? Other tabletop RPGs to try?

You may also be surprised at just how easy it is to run GURPS as a more "Fate-like" game. Officially, there are a few gems to help with this -- the Action series, Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys, the Template Toolkits -- but basically just use range bands, much simpler +/- modifier lists, metacurrency and lots of wildcard skills, you're off.

The nice thing about this is, it's still GURPS, so when you play that gritty post-apocalyptic game down the road where every bullet and liter of water matters, you don't have to change systems, just tweak a few dials.
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Old 07-23-2020, 02:30 PM   #25
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Default Re: Alternatives to GURPS? Other tabletop RPGs to try?

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I think there's an assumption in GURPS that your stuff will be taken away sometimes.
More like "frequently". Or even "very frequently". And then see signature gear.

I'd probably fix stuff that's gear equivalent by tossing building it as powers completely and it's just a combination of signature gear and payload, but then you wind up with the problem of "not the same, but not different enough to be worth substantially more".
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Old 07-24-2020, 01:20 AM   #26
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Default Re: Alternatives to GURPS? Other tabletop RPGs to try?

I have a whole wall of tabletop RPGs, but most are collectible / mined for ideas.

For systems, Gurps (and DFRPG) is my goto system, but I also play somewhat regularly :

***Abstract Dungeon : a great universal game well suited for short games or testing new concepts.
In my latest Gurps campaign (based on THS/the expanse), we ran the first session using Abstract Dungeon with hastily sketched characters, and the players and I then created their Gurps characters based on that experience.

***Call of Cthulhu (Chaosium) when I play a Call of Cthulhu game. Just because.
I do think Gurps is actually much better for low powered horror/investigation game, but I have been using CoC for so long it is second nature for me.
If it is not Cthulhu Mythos related, I switch to Gurps (or AD)

***I recently got convinced to run a few shadowrun game, and I discovered Shadowrun Anarchy.
After being driven away from the game by the 4th and 5th edition that were not for me, Shadowrun Anarchy proved to be great at quick, fast paced runs.
The french translation + the fanmade french companion add a lot, the US edition need some work. (I have both)

***Green Wall Mall is a recent addition to my library, and already proved to be great for demo games and for games with teenagers.

***King Arthur Pendragon. I played it a lot way back, I am currently collecting materials to attempt "The Great Campaign" ... just need the players :(
The rules match the setting well enough, and the main accent is on estate/political/family/duties management anyway.

***Mage the Ascension ... although Gurps with RPM is getting close. If I were to play again, I do not know wich system I would use nowadays.

And so many others.

For me, the system is often secondary. I can and will happily use either the original system, or an universal one that I already master.
Some exceptions with specific games where the system and the universe are really woven together and using the original rules add a lot to the feeling of the game (like the French game "RÍve de Dragon" and it's magic system, or original Deadlands with the poker decks and chips, or Pendragon with all the rules for virtues and passions, seasonal growth and estate management)

But mostly,

**if I play in a published setting, I will likely use that game system (with exceptions for systems I don't like or feel hard to play (such as Thoan, AD&D, Gumshoe, anything "powered by apocalypse", shadowrun 4,5,6, Nephilim, The Expanse ... for those, it is Gurps - except Nephilim, I haven't found the right set of rules for it yet)

**if I play in a setting of my own, I will use Gurps or Abstract Dungeon.

I tried Savage World as a player, and wasn't convinced... too complex for a simple game, to simple for a complex game ? But I confess I did not explore it in depth.
Never tried Fate. I got Dresden File, but I ran the game inspired by it in Gurps.

I used to play (A)D&D about 30 years ago. I switched to Rolemaster/Call of Cthulhu/Gurps/Traveller quickly, and I haven't ran a D20 system game since.
Today if I run hack&slash fantasy, it is in DFRPG.

Last edited by Celjabba; 07-24-2020 at 05:46 AM.
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Old 07-24-2020, 05:27 AM   #27
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Default Re: Alternatives to GURPS? Other tabletop RPGs to try?

I used a lot of system first Drakar och Demoner the swedish grittier version of D&D, then GURPS (still the most influential on my campaigns), then Vampires, EON (another swedish rpg this one redicuslously detailed fantasy), then Hunters when that appeared several years later and then D&D 3.5, Exalted (no edition entirely playable as written), Pathfinder, Dark Heresy, L5R even tried a bit of FATE some years ago. I've read a lot of other systems as well but rarely found any reason to play them, even if I run a game in their settings.

The last well probably closer to a decade I've never use a system as written probably affected by the GURPS idea of using what is useful I'm likely to take a setting and then a system I think reflect that setting and adventure type. Then I tweak or even rewrite the system to fit the setting and my group, anything from a single page of houserules to a complete rewrite in pdf form. Identifying what your group likes is more important than trying out new systems that are very likely poor fits. My group isn't really interested in what system is used for example they want a lot of options, they want to be able to build their character over a long arc so systems with no real character development are out those with no real nuance like FATE are out. While combat is a large part of our campaigns there are frequently entire sessions where no one rolls for initiative so there needs to be some other things to focus on so straight up combat simulators like D&D are mostly out. Identify what your players like and what you like to run then build setting and rules around it or at least choose setting and rules that are conducive to that playstyle.

Current campaign is Star Wars using the last roll and keep edition of L5R for rules with extensive modifications to character options but really magic sword swinging samurai and sword swinging space wizards have a lot in common. :D

Before that it was a kind of expanded and partially simplified Pathfinder/3.5 running the Dark Sun universe.

Before that it was Exalted using a bit of exalted 2nd - 3rd ed mixed up with a lot of gurps.

In the end system rarely matters that much as long as everyone find the amount of moving parts sufficient/not too much, setting is the important part and good ones to raid are anything of a genre the players are likely to find interesting and it is immensly easier to run something that everyone has experience of or can relate to. Some really good RPG's to raid for setting for my group have been Exalted, Dark Sun, Star Wars, Warhammer (and the 40k variants) and Warcraft but I guess once more it depends on the group.

Last edited by exalted; 07-24-2020 at 05:34 AM.
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Old 07-24-2020, 01:02 PM   #28
Raekai
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Default Re: Alternatives to GURPS? Other tabletop RPGs to try?

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Originally Posted by mook View Post
You may also be surprised at just how easy it is to run GURPS as a more "Fate-like" game. Officially, there are a few gems to help with this -- the Action series, Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys, the Template Toolkits -- but basically just use range bands, much simpler +/- modifier lists, metacurrency and lots of wildcard skills, you're off.

The nice thing about this is, it's still GURPS, so when you play that gritty post-apocalyptic game down the road where every bullet and liter of water matters, you don't have to change systems, just tweak a few dials.
This isn't the first time that content from your blog has been helpful (so, thank you)! I like the metaphor of dials. I've been trying to dial-in on the same thing. I've implemented Fate/Destiny/Impulse/Plot Points, I've used range bands, and I'm using the niches from GURPS Template Toolkit 1 as wildcard skills.

So, what is my problem? I think it really is powers/abilities/magic. Other narrative systems do a decent job of keeping those things abstract, which I think is easier if the system has a smaller resolution. Get a +2, affect a zone, create an aspect, whatever... It feels harder to do in GURPS.

For GURPS, I really like advantage-based powers systems. I think Sorcery is really neat. But I have to figure everything out to use it. I have to create more powers, etc. There are looser magic systems out there, especially in GURPS Thaumatology. I like Ritual Path Magic, but it doesn't quite do what I want. Honestly, the closest thing that I've found is Wildcard Powers from GURPS Supers, which I re-tooled just a bit on my blog. But I think I get stuck in thinking, "Okay, my player wants to throw a fireball. How strong of a fireball can she get for 10 points? How much damage? How much area?" Not to mention (and it's already been kinda mentioned) that points don't always line up with utility. In GURPS Thaumatology: Sorcery, the No-Smell spell (p. 13) is 63 points!

So, right now, I'm having another internal struggle between (a) the Raekai that wants to use advantage-based power systems "because they're technically the most fair" and (b) the Raekai that says, "Well, no, because you've seen otherwise. Just use a flexible magic system!" Or use Wildcard Powers in an even more abstract way (e.g., 10◊3 points represents influence, 20◊3 points represents control, 40◊3 points represents mastery, and 80◊3 points represents supremacy—that kind of sounds like Realms or Effect Shaping).

What do I want from a magic system? I want something that can be somewhat powerful and flashy in an instant; though, it can also benefit from a slower ritual. To me, Ritual Path Magic puts the slower part first with the quick and flashy part as an after-thought. The magic system in GURPS Discworld is in the right direction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GURPS Discworld, p. 194
Every magic-worker has a skill level with each Magical Form. Applying a penalty that depends on spell complexity determines the caster’s Base Spell Skill. While different sorts of magic encounter different sorts of difficulty, some general guidelines apply:

Simplest, basic applications of a Form (e.g., lighting a pipe using Elementalism, giving someone an itch or making him sneeze with Physiomancy): 0 Slightly more complex/powerful, but straightforward, effects (e.g., using Psychomancy to make someone ignore you for a moment, or Magianism to suppress a simple magical boobytrap for a second): -1 or -2

Displays of raw, but short-term, power (e.g., fireballs for Elementalism, long-distance scrying for Divination, determining the last thing that a fresh corpse saw for Necromancy): -3

Graduate-level stuff (e.g., using Sortilege to curse someone so that he always comes third in competitions, or Summonation to summon and simultaneously confine a serious demon): -4 or -5

Intricate or showy spells (e.g., using Magianism to divert, analyse, and take control of any and every spell cast in a given area, or Psychomancy to swap the personalities of everybody in a room between their bodies repeatedly at random while making sure that none of them notice that this is happening): -6 to -10*]
It goes on to also give some great examples. I like that. It's free-form. I don't have to worry about how many points a seemingly-simple spell like No-Smell would cost. I would actually like a bit more detail or examples—e.g., 8d damage is equivalent to 4d damage in a small* area, 2d damage in a medium* area, 1d damage in a huge* area, etc.
*Whatever that means.

Just... rambling, I guess.

EDIT: I also want to that that GURPS Powers: Divine Favor is pretty neat as a "flexible" magic/powers system. It's weird (to me) in that it has an upper limit in terms of points one can put into it. Does that theoretically mean it should have an upper limit in power? Anyway, it's also really expensive on the lower end too, which makes it hard to use reliably.

Last edited by Raekai; 07-24-2020 at 01:35 PM.
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Old 07-30-2020, 12:12 PM   #29
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Default Re: Alternatives to GURPS? Other tabletop RPGs to try?

We've played games other than GURPS but I don't think in the context you want. Usually it's because other players feel they need to play a game that's comfortable for them. A lot of the time that means D&D of various stripes. But we've played a few WoD settings. We will occasionally try a game that looks cool. That's how we sampled The Strange and Fading Suns.

Pretty much the advantage is Theme Control. Other games limit scope in a way that few GURPs GM's think to but they do it in a way that severely curbs player choices. This isn't all negative, it can be a good thing to be forced into certain character choices and have to flex your RP muscles.

Sometimes 'other' games will have a unique mechanic that's nice. Changeling the Lost had some really great powers in their glamour abilities that wouldn't work as well in GURPS.

More often what happens is we find a game that looks cool, we read through the setting and the rules and we POWERED BY GURPS it by stretching the setting over GURPS mechanics for it's better mechanical realism and character representation. Often in the process we make improvements on the setting by opening up options that wouldn't have been possible in the original game.
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Old 07-30-2020, 07:36 PM   #30
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Default Re: Alternatives to GURPS? Other tabletop RPGs to try?

While GURPS is the best generic system hands down, Pathfinder 1e did push the borders of fantasy, as oWoD did with horror (especially when it came to Werewolf). In general though, other RPGs tend to specialize to a certain degree, though simpler systems can fake it until they make it, though they require fixes. For example, the new Trinity RPG system forgot to include rules for Detection outside of the wilderness, meaning that no one is capable of detecting people sneaking up on them in an urban setting or even detecting an 18-wheeler coming at them as they cross the street (they lack a Perception trait).
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