Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > GURPS

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 09-23-2017, 01:56 PM   #1
Propjock
 
Propjock's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Default Simplified Template Design Concept

I've never been satisfied with the presentation of the GURPS character templates. They are dense walls of text that I think are intimidating for new players and not that readable even for the initiated. Over the last few years I've started/stopped on a few GURPS template redesigns with varied results.

I thought I'd share my latest attempt by posting a page (PDF) from my translation and re-work of some 3e Cliffhangers templates. Any feedback would be helpful and especially if anyone else has examples they have created or enjoy using.

My goal was to come up with something as simple as possible (and no simpler) that I can hand to new-to-GURPS (or even new-to-TTRPGs) to get them started or inspired on chargen. Most of my sparse gaming is either short adventure arcs on Roll20 with the occasional f2f game where the table isn't overly familiar with GURPS. I'm usually playing in the 150-175 starting point range.

A couple of my design choices are explained below:
  • I try to reinforce the [ ] brackets as point values through consistent usage
  • Filled bullets indicate fixed skills
  • Larger empty bullets are for skill choices (that can double as checkboxes if printed)
  • Art and description to build engagement and breakdown the wall of stats feeling
  • Maintain as much white space as possible
  • Templates should be no longer than a single page
  • Included a legend in the footer

I'm currently torn on whether to present the actual skill level or leave it off to achieve a cleaner look. The 4e Basic Set chapter on character templates includes it. The 3e supplements I own (notably Cliffhangers) don't always include it.
Propjock is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2017, 04:16 PM   #2
Stormcrow
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Ronkonkoma, NY
Default Re: Simplified Template Design Concept

Maybe you could use right-justified tabs on the skill levels to push them to the edge of the column.
Stormcrow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2017, 04:21 PM   #3
awarnock
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Default Re: Simplified Template Design Concept

I'd keep them. It helps when someone asks for a skill based on something other than the main attribute and it helps with transparency. At least that's my thoughts.
awarnock is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2017, 11:40 PM   #4
Gollum
 
Gollum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: France
Default Re: Simplified Template Design Concept

I find your intention very good and the result is just ... amazing! That manner of presenting templates clearly shows how GURPS is actually simple and makes want to play that character.
The official manner is useful to save space and for experienced GURPS GMs, of course, but it is absolutely frightening for newcomers.
To quibble a bit, I would remove languages from skills and put them in advantages or create a paragraph just for them - since they don't work like skills.
__________________
My GURPS fan's website (just a beginning at the moment):
http://gollumdeux.wix.com/gollumsgurpspages
Gollum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-24-2017, 12:51 AM   #5
tbone
 
tbone's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Default Re: Simplified Template Design Concept

Initial impression: Looks fantastic! The way templates should look. The use of checkboxes, in particular, is smart it's not just a template for picking out stuff to be copied onto a character form; it actually serves as the character form itself. (Great use of gray to keep lesser-used info, like point costs, from distracting. I'd do the same for skill difficulty, too.)

(I'd also be interested in seeing right-aligned skill levels, as Stormcrow mentioned. Same with costs for everything; having them in a neat vertical line would make it very easy to skim costs to quickly come up with a total 20 pts or whatever. Not sure these would be improvements; just saying maybe.)

The potential difficulty I see is space: This template is pretty simple, but still fills a page. Higher-level characters with lots more "stuff" will be hard to fit onto a page, even with less intro text and a smaller picture. (Which isn't all bad; it's an incentive to keep templates fairly simple.)

Going back to the sample: It does a great job of serving up his key archaeologist traits (and even a lens!), ready for instant adventure. But I'll note that many gamers will want to see "everyman" background stuff to complete a believable character. This fellow, for example, has no experience with driving a car (lens aside), riding a horse or bicycle, swimming, climbing, hiking, using a computer (or older-TL electronics); he has no influence skills, no hobbies (well, other than archaeology!), etc.

That's not at all a criticism of your template; any fully-rendered GURPS PC template ends up having to deal with a pretty large number of items. I really like your design, and hope it'll continue looking great when the lists inevitably get longer.
__________________
T. Bone
GURPS stuff and more at the Games Diner:
http://www.gamesdiner.com
Twitter: @Gamesdiner
(Latest goods on the site: Beware the assassin's blade a deadly weapon modifier for DF/DFRPG)
tbone is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-24-2017, 01:21 AM   #6
lvalero
 
lvalero's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Madrid, Spain
Default Re: Simplified Template Design Concept

Quote:
They are dense walls of text that I think are intimidating for new players and not that readable even for the initiated.
I completely agree with your affirmation. I love the template redesign to feel more like a pregen character with some checkboxes for customization.

The image is a "must have". Yes, the new design uses more space but I think it's worth it. Good job.
__________________
"Imagination is more important than knowledge" Albert Einstein
lvalero is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-24-2017, 03:18 AM   #7
finn
 
finn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Default Re: Simplified Template Design Concept

I like the design, especially the "checkbox". It clearly distinguishes where you need to make choices and where you don't make choices.

I see it takes space, but it's totally worth it. You can just use two pages for a template + 2 to 3 lenses and equipment if needed.
__________________
Just finished running a GURPS Runal game in 4e.
finn is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-24-2017, 06:48 AM   #8
munin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Vermont, USA
Default Re: Simplified Template Design Concept

Personally, I write up skills more like advantages, with the level right next to the name. For example:
  • Anthropology 14 (H/IQ+1) [8]
  • Area Knowledge 13 (E/IQ+0) [1]
I find it much easier to read that way -- name, level, fiddly bits -- rather than having to track all the way across a mishmash of stuff to get from the name to the level.
munin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-24-2017, 11:23 AM   #9
Moebius
 
Moebius's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Oakdale, MN
Default Re: Simplified Template Design Concept

I love this. Lets convert all of them!
__________________
Moebius is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-24-2017, 04:16 PM   #10
Propjock
 
Propjock's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Default Re: Simplified Template Design Concept

Thanks for the feedback everyone. It's always good to get another set of eyes.

I've posted a revision that takes into account some of the suggestions.

Check it out!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormcrow View Post
Maybe you could use right-justified tabs on the skill levels to push them to the edge of the column.
I actually did this in the new version, but the relative level and point cost with it. Just having the actual level by itself at the right seemed disconnected. One of the things that I decided I wanted to try and keep was the 4e skill listing format as described in B448. That way, if players want to reference other GURPS works as part of their character creation they're at least exposed to the "official" format.

Quote:
Originally Posted by awarnock View Post
I'd keep them. It helps when someone asks for a skill based on something other than the main attribute and it helps with transparency. At least that's my thoughts.
I agree, but I think you're describing the relative level when I was referring to the actual level. I'm using these terms as defined in B448. I'm still torn about showing the actual level. Are they really useful in a template? As soon as the player buys up an attribute they're all going to be off anyway. Although I guess the same could be said for the relative level too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gollum View Post
I find your intention very good and the result is just ... amazing! That manner of presenting templates clearly shows how GURPS is actually simple and makes want to play that character.
The official manner is useful to save space and for experienced GURPS GMs, of course, but it is absolutely frightening for newcomers.
To quibble a bit, I would remove languages from skills and put them in advantages or create a paragraph just for them - since they don't work like skills.
Thanks. I agree about the languages. This template was a direct translation from Cliffhangers 3e and I didn't think that through more. GURPS has a lot of these edge cases that make a completely standardized presentation a challenging balance between structure and space wasting (when that structure for control checks, for example, isn't needed).

Quote:
Originally Posted by tbone View Post
Initial impression: Looks fantastic! The way templates should look. The use of checkboxes, in particular, is smart it's not just a template for picking out stuff to be copied onto a character form; it actually serves as the character form itself. (Great use of gray to keep lesser-used info, like point costs, from distracting. I'd do the same for skill difficulty, too.)
Thanks. I reinforced the checkbox motive by having the fixed skills now use a larger filled bullet. I think this should allow me to get away with removing extra lines that said, "Total of X points from:" to buy me a few more lines.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tbone View Post
(I'd also be interested in seeing right-aligned skill levels, as Stormcrow mentioned. Same with costs for everything; having them in a neat vertical line would make it very easy to skim costs to quickly come up with a total 20 pts or whatever. Not sure these would be improvements; just saying maybe.)
I was really torn between aligning on point values vs. actual level. I may still go that way if I drop the actual level (as discussed above) since at the template stage there really is a focus on point arithmetic vs. skill levels.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tbone View Post
The potential difficulty I see is space: This template is pretty simple, but still fills a page. Higher-level characters with lots more "stuff" will be hard to fit onto a page, even with less intro text and a smaller picture. (Which isn't all bad; it's an incentive to keep templates fairly simple.)
Yes. In the end, I don't think there's a way for something to be comprehensive and simple. This format probably isn't going to work if you're trying to make a 500+ point character. However, there's a simple solution that would allow it to scale a bit further - use a bigger piece of paper.

Our European friends already have paper that's a bit taller. There's also US legal and ledger sizes that can be printed in normal printers. I feel the 1-pager is psychologically significant for conveying simplicity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lvalero View Post
The image is a "must have". Yes, the new design uses more space but I think it's worth it. Good job.
Absolutely. If I could get more artwork in I would and remove the descriptive text. I'm inspired by the Hollow Earth Expedition sample characters. Granted pre-gens don't have the challenge of listing additional skills and options, but that presentation is stellar and it's all about art. It gives players ideas and then that inspires them (hopefully) to engage with the system beyond the template.
Propjock is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
character, design, template

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:45 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.