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Old 02-12-2018, 05:20 PM   #1
Hrothgar Rannúlfr
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Default A Dungeoneering Fan, but a Total Gurps Newbie

Hello, everyone.

I've never played GURPS, before.

My RPG experience is limited to all of the versions of D&D from Mentzer Basic, to 3.5, Pathfinder, and 5th Edition; but not 4E D&D.

I've seen GURPS mentioned on the forums at Paizo and Enworld. Some say that it is more complicated than Pathfinder. So, my first question is, is GURPS really more complicated than Pathfinder?

I've read GURPS Light, but haven't totally understood it, but I think the 3d6 system appears to be somewhat more balanced than Pathfinder and other forms of D&D. Is it more balanced?

Also, Pathfinder has a lot of class options, however one of the drawbacks seems to be the class system, itself. I have players who take 3 or more classes just to realize a concept. Am I correct in thinking that GURPS makes it easier to realize a concept because it's not class and level based?

Also, I've read parts of the threads here about converting things like Rappan Athuk to GURPS and it sounds like those in the know find it somewhat easy to do. How long would it take to gain enough system mastery with GURPS to convert the Swords & Wizardry version of Rappan Athuk to GURPS?

I'm primarily interested in Dungeon Fantasy, but I can see my players eventually liking the idea of exploring other genres, which seems to be a strong point with GURPS. Having watched Pathfinder evolve into Starfinder and the subtle rules changes that were involved, I think I am in favor of a more stable system for all genres. GURPS seems like it will fit that bill. If I start with the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Boxed Set will it provide the guidance I'd need to get used to the GURPS system, character generation, combat, exploration, etc... and prepare me to move to other genres using GURPS?

That said, there are a lot of supplements to GURPS. Am I right in guessing that these forums would be a great place to ask for guidance on which supplements are recommended for a given genre?

Thanks in advance.

Hrothgar
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Old 02-12-2018, 06:03 PM   #2
mr beer
 
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Default Re: A Dungeoneering Fan, but a Total Gurps Newbie

GURPS is best described as a toolkit for a system rather than a system. Herein lies the problem because there are dozens of supplements, which leads a bewildering array of choices. It's extremely helpful to get guidance for which supplements to use for given settings.

Based on your post, I recommend the DF set as a jumping off point because its self contained. It's also better at doing D&D than D&D is, in my opinion, specifically the system is better at combat and more interesting.

A recurring theme that makes GURPS much easier to use for newer places and GMs is the notion of character templates. These are effectively a sort of quasi-'class'. So the template will be for a certain number of points, for a type of character (or NPC) and will specify certain pre-bought characteristics and guide optional points buys.

To answer other questions:

- GURPS is both more and less complicated than Pathfinder. It's a cleaner, more intuitive and more consistent system. The sheer number of possible game options is much broader, though there is a lot less 'class based' information.

- 'more balanced' - possibly for a given value of 'balanced'. Being a points buy system you would think equal points = equal utility, but this depends vastly upon the setting and what restrictions a GM puts into place.

- no classes, yes it's generally easier to realise a concept in GURPS than other systems.

- 'system mastery' is a slippery term, it's going to depend on how quickly you come to grips with systems, how much time you spend doing so and how much effort you want to put into conversion.

- these forums are an excellent resource for GURPS questions.

The above answers hint at issues new GURPS users will encounter, which is why I recommend getting the DF box set. It will remove the problems of having to make rules choices.

Again, these forums are an excellent resource for any GURPS-based questions you have.

Last edited by mr beer; 02-12-2018 at 06:08 PM.
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Old 02-12-2018, 06:04 PM   #3
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Default Re: A Dungeoneering Fan, but a Total Gurps Newbie

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hrothgar Rannúlfr View Post
I've seen GURPS mentioned on the forums at Paizo and Enworld. Some say that it is more complicated than Pathfinder. So, my first question is, is GURPS really more complicated than Pathfinder?
For the player, nor much, for the GM it depends because GURPS is more of a toolkit for running games than a single game. Dungeon Fantasy, however is considerably simpler than PFRPG, IMO. It's closer to a OSR game than it is to PFRPG.

Quote:
I've read GURPS Light, but haven't totally understood it, but I think the 3d6 system appears to be somewhat more balanced than Pathfinder and other forms of D&D. Is it more balanced?
Because of the way probability works rolling two or more dice and totalling them has more predictable outcomes than rolling one die. This is because on 1d20 there is exactly one way to roll a "10" whereas there are 27 ways on 3d6. 3d6's probability curve is very close to a bell curve distribution, which makes it like a lot of probabilities in the real world.

So in GURPS and Dungeon Fantasy the chance of success doesn't increase linearly with each +1 to skill, it increases very slowly at the extreme low and high levels, and increases quickly for middle levels. In PFRPG, conversely each +1 is exactly +5%.

Quote:
Also, Pathfinder has a lot of class options, however one of the drawbacks seems to be the class system, itself. I have players who take 3 or more classes just to realize a concept. Am I correct in thinking that GURPS makes it easier to realize a concept because it's not class and level based?
The default way to play Dungeon Fantasy is with occupational templates that roughly correspond to classes (although they are both more effective and more customizable than 1st level PFRPG characters). There are no levels though, and players can spend their earned points on development however they wish (subject to certain restrictions).

It does give the optional rule to allow characters to made off template, and buy everything à la carte.

Quote:
Also, I've read parts of the threads here about converting things like Rappan Athuk to GURPS and it sounds like those in the know find it somewhat easy to do. How long would it take to gain enough system mastery with GURPS to convert the Swords & Wizardry version of Rappan Athuk to GURPS?
Difficult to say, and it depends on your tolerance for "good enough". Using Kromm's suggestion for how to convert treasure might take decades with both systems. I have decades and I don't know how I would do it. :)

If you are willing to make quick and dirty decisions like "every 20 gp in the original is one gold coin" then pretty much instantly, I think.

Quote:
If I start with the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Boxed Set will it provide the guidance I'd need to get used to the GURPS system, character generation, combat, exploration, etc... and prepare me to move to other genres using GURPS?
It will give you some familiarity, but you will still need to get the Basic Set volumes when you want to run a really different game.
Quote:
That said, there are a lot of supplements to GURPS. Am I right in guessing that these forums would be a great place to ask for guidance on which supplements are recommended for a given genre?
Yes, absolutely!

Last edited by sir_pudding; 02-12-2018 at 06:08 PM. Reason: I thought this was in DFRPG, oops.
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Old 02-12-2018, 06:06 PM   #4
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Default Re: A Dungeoneering Fan, but a Total Gurps Newbie

I'll point out that there's a subtle distinction here. The Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game is a stand-alone product which is 99% compatible with the full GURPS system. It contains a lot less than the full system, but it is much more focused on stuff that's relevant to dungeon delving. So, then, there are going to be different answers to some of these questions for GURPS and for the DFRPG.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hrothgar Rannúlfr View Post
So, my first question is, is GURPS really more complicated than Pathfinder?
GURPS front-loads a lot of its complexity, so making a character is a non-trivial amount of work. In play, though, it's surprisingly easy because you've gotten a lot of that stuff out of the way.

Building a character in the DFRPG is somewhat easier than in pure GURPS because it's template-driven. That is, you've got a series of ready-made menus. There are still some choices to make (say, pick 3 of these 4 skills and spend 20 points on anything in this category), but being far more focused, it's far easier to get up and running.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hrothgar Rannúlfr View Post
I've read GURPS Light, but haven't totally understood it, but I think the 3d6 system appears to be somewhat more balanced than Pathfinder and other forms of D&D. Is it more balanced?
Eh. 3d6, roll low, is a mechanic, like 1d20, roll high. Balance comes from how it gets used. I happen to really like how it gets utilized.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hrothgar Rannúlfr View Post
Am I correct in thinking that GURPS makes it easier to realize a concept because it's not class and level based?
GURPS is WAY more flexible. Even in the cut-down DFRPG, you've got a large catalog of individually priced traits, so you can strike whatever balance between sets of abilities you want. Now, there can still be some trial and error because it may turn out that combining an Arcane Watermelon-Hurler with a High Dark Pixie creates some weird synergies in play which just aren't apparent during creation, but at least you know exactly which parts go into it and how much it all costs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hrothgar Rannúlfr View Post
Also, I've read parts of the threads here about converting things like Rappan Athuk to GURPS and it sounds like those in the know find it somewhat easy to do.
I'm gonna say no. At least, not in the way you're thinking. Different systems are built on entirely different assumptions, so a pure mechanical translation may make no sense whatsoever. However, one of the skills you get from GURPS is breaking down an expression of an idea (a trap, a monster, a spell, etc.) into its functional parts, which in turn makes it easy to express it in GURPS. For example, the idea of "draining a level" makes zero sense in GURPS, but it could be translated in a number of different ways in GURPS appropriate to the overall theme of the ability, adventure, or whatever.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hrothgar Rannúlfr View Post
If I start with the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Boxed Set will it provide the guidance I'd need to get used to the GURPS system, character generation, combat, exploration, etc... and prepare me to move to other genres using GURPS?
Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hrothgar Rannúlfr View Post
That said, there are a lot of supplements to GURPS. Am I right in guessing that these forums would be a great place to ask for guidance on which supplements are recommended for a given genre?
Sweet merciful Jebus, yes.
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Old 02-12-2018, 06:18 PM   #5
AlexanderHowl
 
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Default Re: A Dungeoneering Fan, but a Total Gurps Newbie

With players that are new to GURPS, I tend to make them give me a detailed outline of what they imagine the character is good at and a detailed background. I will make the character for them (it takes me half an hour at worst in most games) and then spend a half hour explaining to them the capabilities of their character. I usually give them five sessions to tweak the character to fit their specifications or to replace the character with one that they have designed (in which the original character becomes just another NPC).
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Old 02-12-2018, 06:29 PM   #6
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Default Re: A Dungeoneering Fan, but a Total Gurps Newbie

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hrothgar Rannúlfr View Post
I've seen GURPS mentioned on the forums at Paizo and Enworld. Some say that it is more complicated than Pathfinder. So, my first question is, is GURPS really more complicated than Pathfinder?
Well, this is a slightly tricky question, I'd say. First, my own experience - I've never played Pathfinder, but I've read through the core rules, and I've played D&D 3.5 extensively. So I think I can make a reasonable comparison. I would say that GURPS' basic resolution mechanic - roll 3d6, get equal or under your modified target number - is as easy or easier than D&D's basic "roll d20, meet or exceed your target number". Moreover, GURPS tends to be a bit less exception-driven than D&D and its variants are. That is, it generally lets most people try various things, but imposes penalties unless you've specifically invested in them. Compare that to D&D/Pathfinder's style of gating various tricks behind class abilities, feats, and so forth.

Where GURPS is more complicated that Pathfinder is really in two places. First, character creation. This is legitimately more complex, I'd say, because GURPS aims to give you many more choices and flexibility when building characters. This has the necessary consequence of making someone, either the players or the GM, make more decisions. The second area is in the optional details and rules. GURPS has quite a lot of these, and if a group allows all of them, or even a lot, the complexity can increase quite a bit. My advice for new GURPS players and GMs would be, don't do everything the book says you can do. Keep it simple at first, until you've learned the rules, and even then, don't introduce new rules unless a) the players are interested in exploring that particular area of the game, and b) the added complexity will actually help.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hrothgar Rannúlfr
I've read GURPS Light, but haven't totally understood it, but I think the 3d6 system appears to be somewhat more balanced than Pathfinder and other forms of D&D. Is it more balanced?
Again, "balanced" is a tricky question. "Balanced against what" is what you have to define. If you mean "characters with similar numbers of points will have similar amounts of things to do", I'd say that yes, GURPS is better balanced. Points in GURPS really represent "spotlight time" - characters with similar numbers of points have a pretty good chance of having roughly equal amounts of time to show off their abilities and skills, and have a similar impact on the game (someone with lots of points in a single thing will rarely have an impact, but it will be big when it happens, whereas someone with the same points spread out over a bunch of different things will have a more-regular, but smaller impact).

This comes with a couple of caveats, though. First, the GM has to be on their toes and reactive to the players' needs and desires, as expressed in their character builds. Unlike Pathfinder/D&D, where there's a solid "campaign default activity" built into the game (crawl through dungeons, fight monsters, take their stuff, become heroes, bask in glory), GURPS, being generic, has no such default activity, meaning the GM has to take care to establish what the campaign is about to start, and then ensure that the players' various abilities and skills are being used. If you're running a game set in Feudal Japan, and someone takes the Artisan (Flower Arranging) skill, it's up to the GM to notice that and put some opportunities to impress people with artistically-arranged flowers into the game.

The second caveat is that points are not a balancing mechanism between PCs and NPCs, whether humans or monsters. A 500-point character can be taken down by a 25-point one in combat, if the 500-point one has all their points put into wealth, social connections, and being super-attractive, while the 25-point one put all those points into being good at swords. And, conversely, five 500-point characters can find themselves stymied by one 25-point one, if they've sunk all their abilities into combat and the 25-point NPC has social traits that let them put combat off the table.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hrothgar Rannúlfr
Am I correct in thinking that GURPS makes it easier to realize a concept because it's not class and level based?
I would say, yes, absolutely. One of the nice parts of GURPS is exactly that - you can customize a character with much finer detail than class/level systems generally allow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hrothgar Rannúlfr
If I start with the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Boxed Set will it provide the guidance I'd need to get used to the GURPS system, character generation, combat, exploration, etc... and prepare me to move to other genres using GURPS?
I haven't got the DF RPG yet myself, but from what I understand, it probably will suit you for those purposes, yes. It does change a few things from "core GURPS", and doesn't include all the optional rules by a long shot, but it should get you used to the basic principles of GURPS well enough. On the other hand, if you're really looking for something to get into GURPS, and only thinking of Dungeon Fantasy as an intro to that, rather than a game to play long-term, you might want to just bite the bullet and buy the GURPS Basic Set (Characters and Campaigns), and pick up the first couple of the Dungeon Fantasy PDF products, Dungeon Fantasy 1: Adventurers and Dungeon Fantasy 2: Exploits. Those PDFs are what eventually "evolved" into the Dungeon Fantasy RPG. They'll give you much the same experience, I'd say, and they do a pretty good job on their own of boiling down the GURPS rules into something easily grasped and already tuned for the dungeon crawling genre. And that way, once you go for other GURPS campaigns, you don't need to buy the DF RPG and the Basic Set.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hrothgar Rannúlfr
That said, there are a lot of supplements to GURPS. Am I right in guessing that these forums would be a great place to ask for guidance on which supplements are recommended for a given genre?
That you are! I'd go so far to say this is probably the best place to ask such questions.
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Old 02-12-2018, 06:32 PM   #7
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Default Re: A Dungeoneering Fan, but a Total Gurps Newbie

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hrothgar Rannúlfr View Post
is GURPS really more complicated than Pathfinder?
It can be. There are a lot of options in GURPS, and you can drag in as much detail and complexity as you like. It doesn't _have_ to be complex,though. Starting with Light is a good idea. You'll get the basics of the system, and can add other things if and when they suit your needs.

Not everybody wants to track fatigue expenditure in combat while having modifiers for a defensive grip halfway up the sword while calculating the effects on magic of three hundred sympathetic magical doodads. Other people find that one or the other or something else just the feel they need for the game they want to run. Someone's already said that GURPS is a toolkit, and the hardest thing to learn is not memorizing all the rules, but learning which ones to choose to use to suit your intended purpose. Not everything in all the books even fits together sensibly (the 30s pulp of the Solar Patrol doesn't conceptually mesh with near-future hard-science transhumanism, even if the rules work together flawlessly), so there's no question of having to use it all at once.

Quote:
the 3d6 system appears to be somewhat more balanced than Pathfinder and other forms of D&D. Is it more balanced?
I'm not quite sure what you mean here. "Balance" to me means some reasonably equivalent ability between PCs to affect the story (not just combat). So, GURPS is pretty well balanced, yes, though there are any number of people on the forum that will point out their particular peeves. I don't think that has much to do with the fact that it uses 3d6, though.

Quote:
Am I correct in thinking that GURPS makes it easier to realize a concept because it's not class and level based?
Yes. In fact, it's still my favorite system for being able to realize the character I wanted, without forcing it to be not quite right because the system doesn't do that, or having to tweak and twist the concept back toward one of the twelve characters the game designer wanted me to play.


Quote:
I think I am in favor of a more stable system for all genres. GURPS seems like it will fit that bill.
That was its original purpose. And while perhaps not the first, it was certainly the system that popularized the notion of having a generic system. Everyone these days takes their setting-specific system and strips out to the detail to call it a generic system, but most of them don't really "genericize" all that well.

Quote:
If I start with the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Boxed Set will it provide the guidance I'd need to get used to the GURPS system, character generation, combat, exploration, etc... and prepare me to move to other genres using GURPS?
It's not a bad choice. DFRPG is a bit of an odd beast in that it's a deliberate attempt to make GURPS do just dungeon-crawling fantasy, inspired by D&D as well as other old-school games like Diablo (and earlier rogue-likes). So, it uses templates and throws in rules to enforce niche protection (thieves can do things only thieves can do, got to have the fighter and cleric, then the magic-user to handle those magical problems). In that sense, it gets a bit further from GURPS as ultimately generic. But you have to start somewhere, and if you like DF (and most of us do), then it's not going to be a waste of money.

You can also buy the GURPS Basic Set, which is really all you need to run most games. There's a whole series of PDFs in the "Dungeon Fantasy" line that got a little editing and selection to become the DFRPG. So that would be another route to get there.

Quote:
Am I right in guessing that these forums would be a great place to ask for guidance on which supplements are recommended for a given genre?
Yep. It's a fairly common question, actually, and lots of people will chip in with suggestions for whatever you have in mind. There are a lot of choices, but you'll usually get a rank order for importance. And if you like to tinker yourself, there isn't a lot that you _need_ other than Basic. Lots of stuff that's great to have (I think I've got over 100 PDFs), but if your budget is limited, that doesn't mean your game experience has to be.
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Old 02-12-2018, 06:57 PM   #8
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Default Re: A Dungeoneering Fan, but a Total Gurps Newbie

All of your questions have been answered by now, So I'll just hop up and down on the question I'm most excited about. I think DFRPG is the PERFECT way to jump into the broader GURPS system. It leaves out all the optional rules that get folks twisted up in knots. And leaves you with a worked example of a GURPS game. It also comes with a prepackaged adventure that will get you acquainted with the fundamentals in play. Moving from DFRPG to the Basic Set means that you already know the core assumptions of the system which, hopefully, will innoculate you from the assumption that all the rules need using all the time.
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Old 02-12-2018, 07:00 PM   #9
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Default Re: A Dungeoneering Fan, but a Total Gurps Newbie

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Originally Posted by Colarmel View Post
All of your questions have been answered by now, So I'll just hop up and down on the question I'm most excited about. I think DFRPG is the PERFECT way to jump into the broader GURPS system. It leaves out all the optional rules that get folks twisted up in knots. And leaves you with a worked example of a GURPS game.
As long as you are okay with buying two sets of rules and spending an extra ~$60.
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Old 02-12-2018, 07:52 PM   #10
Hrothgar Rannúlfr
 
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Default Re: A Dungeoneering Fan, but a Total Gurps Newbie

Thanks, everyone.

I think I'm going to give GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game a go.

But, I'm also going to have questions... later on... about other genres...
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