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Old 04-21-2012, 01:10 PM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2012
Default GURPS or Modern D20?

So I'm VERY new to roleplaying games. I've played D&D a couple of times and wanted to start playing something more modern. I've stumbled upon GURPS and Modern D20 and I'm getting really mixed reviews on which one is better. It's either "GURPS RULES AND MODERN D20 IS BORING!" or vice versa. So my question is which game do YOU find more fun and why??? I'm asking cause I'm trying to decide which game I should buy and don't want to fork over the money just to find out that the game is sucky haha
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:23 PM   #2
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Default Re: GURPS or Modern D20?

Well, since your asking on the GURPS-forum, expect to get pretty biased opinions.

Anyway. The main differences are that D20 modern is a class-based system where once you take a class you get to onyl so what that class can do. This might be beneficial to new GM's and players. O nthe other hand it can feel pretty restrictive.
GURPS on the other hand is point-buy where you can construct any sort of person (or creature) you can imagine. For instance you can chose to only be good at fighting, or not be able to fight at all.
Another strong difference in character-making is that in D20 modern you start with an almost blank sheet and bare minimum character. The character are very much alike and only through earning enough XP for several levels do the character really start to differ and become able to "do something". GURPS makes you create a fully fleshed out character that are what you want them to be. Not "a potential to be what you want". So agian it depends what you prefer.

Then comes combat. D20 modern is highly abstract with little more than a curtsey nod to how the real world (or even Hollywood) works. Things behave by the rules, more than "how they ought to". Here GURPS is much better at representing a typical action-movie feel (unless it's really over the top action, but even then). It does come at the price of more options though, which can be overwhelming and confusing even to experienced roleplayers.

I'm not going to advice which to pick, but I will say that you can get to play GURPS completely free by downloading GURPS Lite:
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:23 PM   #3
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Default Re: GURPS or Modern D20?

Gurps is so far the only roleplaying system I haven't had major issues with (There might be minor issues, but every system has those and that's what these boards can solve). It openly embraces things like "The GM is law, not the rules" and "Yes, you can do it here". As far as I can tell, what any other system can do, Gurps can also do, and maybe better.

The only problem I see people having with gurps is the amount of thought the gm has to do, especially since most systems cater to a specific setting, while gurps is open ended and a toolbox.

Note, I'm not just saying this on this site. I've said things like this on other sites, especially when I was trying to convince people on the D&D boards why gurps is better than D&D. If nothing else, gurps can be D&D also.

EDIT: Ninja'd by a better answer.
Originally Posted by cosmicfish View Post
While I do not think that GURPS is perfect I do think that it is more balanced than what I am likely to create by GM fiat.
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:25 PM   #4
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Default Re: GURPS or Modern D20?

Well, I'm afraid you are really only likely to get one opinion on a GURPS forum. Maybe try a more general RPG forum like

In my opinion, the D20 system was fairly good for it's original genre (what GURPS calls 'Dungeon Fantasy') but got less good the further you got from that. Meanwhile, GURPS works fairly well for a wider variety of things.

Maybe try some of the free systems which are available on the web and see what you actually like in an RPG system?

Finally, I'm afraid that what you like isn't always going to determine what you play. Most games come down to what your local roleplaying groups are into. You might want to run a game of hard-boiled private investigators, but if all your friends want to play Deathwatch, it probably isn't going to happen.
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:29 PM   #5
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Default Re: GURPS or Modern D20?

This is not the place to get an unbiased answer based on what people like better. This, is, after all, the forum for hardcore GURPS-heads, who tend to be more interested in the rules system than the average GURPS player, and thereby to have some emotional investment in it.

However, they love to analyse things. So if there are specific things you want out of a modern-day RPG, it's easy to find out how well GURPS supports them.

In general, I find GURPS has a slightly steeper learning curve at first: while the core mechanic is simple (roll 3d6 wanting a low number, vs roll d20 wanting a high number), there is an extra concept in combat, the defense roll, to learn. Once you've got the hang of that, GURPS is better at describing modern equipment and weapons, and the skills needed to use them.

GURPS also has a bunch of add-on rules sets for various kinds of modern gaming that will do a lot of work for you:
  1. GURPS Action! for TV/Movie-style action-adventure.
  2. Gun-Fu, for spectacular gunplay.
  3. Tactical Shooting, for detailed and realistic shooting.

The modern equipment equipment catalog, High-Tech, is also very useful.

What else do you want out of a modern setting? Someone will know how to do it.
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:29 PM   #6
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Default Re: GURPS or Modern D20?

Well, it's hard to say which one is going to be more fun for someone else, but GURPS is certainly more realistic by far. It has a lot of support for modern-day settings, too. D20 is going to be similar to D&D and from the few things I've heard about it that is not necessarily a good thing.

The short pro and con list for GURPS:

-lots of realistic gear and rules that produce results close to real-life
-no levels or character classes; you can make any character you want
-makes it easy to insert martial arts/magic/superpowers/psionics/whatever to your campaign if you decide you want to spice up things
=>a toolbox that lets you create any campaign you like

-no standard modern campaign setting included in the Basic Set
-different rules than D&D; will take some time to learn
-no easy way to see whether an encounter is balanced
-can be pretty deadly if firearms are involved
-not that much in the way of pre-made adventures (though I'm not sure how D20 Modern does in this regard)

It would be easier to give better advice if you could say what is especially important to you. I'm also not sure there are a lot of people here who tried d20 Modern.
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:39 PM   #7
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Default Re: GURPS or Modern D20?

I liked D20 Modern; I found it to be my favorite of the D20 variants when we played it. I also enjoyed the regular bump of a cool new talent or feat each time I leveled up.

Combat in D20 Modern is much like D&D 3.0/3.5, so not as crunchy or realistic as GURPS combat can get (if you let it), but that may be good or bad, depending on what you want.

GURPS is a much more complete and potentially complex system. You can generally make your own powers and abilities if you want something in particular, rather than relying on the talents and feats that D20 Modern has. But GURPS also has a pretty full suite of cool stuff to choose from -- you just don't automatically get to pick something at level-up, because there's no level-up, you have to work toward buying the more expensive features.

Anyway, you can see most of what's available for D20 modern for free, as the system reference document is available online. It won't spell out how to make a character, but you can get a darn good idea of how things work and what you're getting: With a little googling, you might even find something with improved layout in PDF instead of RTF.

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Old 04-21-2012, 01:40 PM   #8
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Default Re: GURPS or Modern D20?

I really really do not like d20 modern . . . If you want to play a d20 modern guns based game dredge up a old copy of Star Wars d20 and file the serial numbers off. Its not that I dislike class level systems to much (huge Earthdawn fan and I like forms of DnD) but the classes in d20 modern are boring and counterintuitive. d20 Star Wars handles it far better.

I've never run or played in a strictly modern GURPS game just modern mish mash so I have no specific insights on it. It works well for modern mish mash though. One peculiarity of GURPS is body armor is very important and rifles hit a lot harder than pistols

You might also consider giving D6 Adventure a whirl. Eric Gibson of WEG released it as OGL so you can get it free
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:50 PM   #9
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Default Re: GURPS or Modern D20?

Originally Posted by Blind Mapmaker View Post
-no easy way to see whether an encounter is balanced.
In all honesty, D&D was notoriously bad at this, at least from my own experience, up until 4.0, and even then I still prefer making fitting the encounters to the characters, not forcing it the other way around.
Originally Posted by cosmicfish View Post
While I do not think that GURPS is perfect I do think that it is more balanced than what I am likely to create by GM fiat.
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:52 PM   #10
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Default Re: GURPS or Modern D20?

GURPS has a lot to offer, especially great flexibility for your characters and many toolkit options to build your own worlds. There are so many different sourcebooks available for a lot of settings and in combination there is add-on material for nearly every imaginable cross-over campaign or what have you! ;)
Do you want to invent and play new exotic races? No problem at all, even the Basic Set alone gives you many, many options...
Do you prefer to go straight by the book and select one of a few clear defined options? Get additional sourcebook for a setting approach you like, e.g. Action, Monster Hunters or something like that, and start playing!

The system has a great game play, fast combat, many tactical options etc., it's consistent and well playtested. It's ideal for settings with a realistic feeling but you can also go freaky and have much fun with a lot of available cinematic tweaks! =)


Anyway, you're probably not asking for answers like "GURPS/D20 is awesome or sucks or whatever" ;)
If you have specific questions about the features of the system or how it would handle a given situation, you'll most likely get very qualified answers, in my opinion the online community here is overall really competent and helpful!

Last edited by OldSam; 04-21-2012 at 02:11 PM.
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