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Old 06-09-2008, 08:41 PM   #71
Mgellis
 
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Default Re: Does GURPS need original-setting world books?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agemegos
I too think it is a mistake for an RPG setting to try to be "all things to all men". A timid, consensus-driven approach to setting design tries to assemble a coalition of appeals by throwing in everything that seems cool to anyone. The result is no better in setting design than the same approach would be in cookery: never mind that I like lemon chiffon cream and vinaigrette dressing, I don't want them in my osso bucco, nor pork rinds and chocolate chips in my vichysoisse. That is why I always avoid open calls on public forums to "let's design a collaborative setting".

In my opinion no good setting ever results from a committee or a survey assembling a shopping-list of elements that must be introduced, or even with a designer think "Let's see: gotta have a lake, anna forest, and some mountains, anna city; gotta have elves, and dwarves, and orcs". Good settings, settings that inspire players and GMs, settings that stand out from the crowd, settings that people go to buy rather than standing at the shelves with two products trying to make a line call, result from some person or small group having a good basic idea, and idea which provides as theme. And, as Whswhs can tell you, a theme is a criterion for deciding what to put in an what to leave out.
Absolutely. I think it's tempting to try to put everything into a setting because you want to satisfy as many people as you can. Not to mention that the more bells and whistles you put in a setting the more people may buy it, while a very specific setting, requiring the same investment of both time and money, is a bigger risk; it may be the next Greyhawk or it may be the next [please insert your favorite example of a well-written setting that only sold 18 copies here].

But the more you put in, the more you risk making a setting unwieldy and causing it to lose its unique flavor (or, as you put it, its theme).

There are exceptions. A setting like Traveller is supposed to have every possible location and theme. It's an interstellar ocean with ten thousand islands to choose from. That's part of its appeal.

Maybe the "secret" is to find your theme and stick with it, but to do everything possible with that particular theme. So you're not going to have Wild West shootouts if the theme is Regency intrigue, but you should feel free to steal every trick Jane Austen used, not to mention the ones that show up in Burney, Gaskell, and Eliot.

And if the theme is "Vampires do not control a vast conspiracy with almost infinite wealth, but they are quite cunning, and numerous small colonies and nests are to be found around the world...civilization is not in peril, but many innocent people will die if the heroes fail or do nothing," then you've got something very definite to work with, but enough room to come up with dozens of unique adventures.

You can even expand the theme a little--"Oh, and there are Satanists, too, and sometimes one particular Satanic cult leader will work with a particular vampire, and vampires are really comfortable with the notion of helping out the devil and his servants, as long as they get fresh blood, too, but nothing more organized than that," but you want to make sure you don't throw in TOO many bells and whistles.

Actually, that is kind of a cool setting, isn't it? :)

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Old 06-09-2008, 09:28 PM   #72
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Default Re: Does GURPS need original-setting world books?

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Originally Posted by blacksmith
So it should have bowed down to the sexy sophisticated vampire? Bucking that trend and presenting more traditional vampires is just too orrigional for you it seems. This small point of individual taste put you off the whole setting, this is bound to happened if most GURPS players are as picky as you.
Perhaps I missed this traditional vampire. Where does such a vampire occur? I don't think it meshes with Bram Stoker's Dracula. Such vampires do occur in Anne Rice's "Interview with a Vampire", but they are the ones to be the protagonist pities. They certainly aren't terribly interesting as adversaries.

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You are providing a perfect demonstration of why GURPS players are not going to accept any setting.
So why is it that other companies have launched successful settings?
And why is it that SJ Games can not do so?

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As to other orrigional settings you failed to address, what about cabal, or Voodoo?
Cabal has some very useful elements which I will gladly use in a Black Ops campaign - which is greatly altered from the canon or an Infinite Worlds campaign. Voodoo just doesn't appeal to me.


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You have shown that minor elements will drive you from a setting. Well any setting is going to have styleistic choices different than you would make that will likely drive you from it.
Yes, but it just seems that GURPS settings have often been done with a superior "we know best" attitude. Let's do Shadowrun for adults! No cool, trendy vamps for us, we'll bring the guns and cinematic action, but none of that World of Darkness style stuff for us.

I really like the setting from the GURPS Psionics book under GURPS 2nd editon. I also really like the setting from Space Atlas IV. The problem is no ongoing support. There is also a lot I like about Banestorm, at least in the current incarnation.
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Old 06-09-2008, 10:34 PM   #73
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Default Re: Does GURPS need original-setting world books?

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Originally Posted by griffin
So why is it that other companies have launched successful settings?
And why is it that SJ Games can not do so?
Good question. I suspect that each successful setting has been the focus of passion and commitment from a dedicated production team*. The ones that really stand out in my mind as successful are Traveller, Glorantha, Warhammer, and the World of Darkness, and they have each had a firm that considered supporting that world as its core business, run by a person or team who are passionate about and committed to the setting. Sub-creative vision has led the agenda.

Steve Jackson Games, on the other hand, is passionate about and committed to GURPS (or maybe Munchkin), not to a setting. No one setting is core business. Managerial and editorial attention is dispersed between a plethora of projects. In most cases, any particular world is not the darling of anyone at the company, but of a free-lance contract worker. When it struggles, no-one at company HQ fights for its life, or even speaks up for it: the person with the passion isn't even in Texas. When a setting isn't doing well at SJG it gets abandoned, not nursed back to health, because no-one with a voice in the decisions is passionate about or committed to any setting.

Then there are the quasi-official settings, Infinite Worlds and Banestorm (or GURPS Fantasy, as it was originally called). It seems to me (though I have indeed no inside knowledge) that these were calculated rather than imagined, and no-one really feels any passion about them at all. They were designed with list in hand to assemble a coalition of appeals, and are not inspired by any creative vision. They are hack-work, and no-one was ever going to love them.

Now, that's my answer to your question, and I reckon that you have read such before, written as complaints. But I am in fact not complaining. I actually prefer things this way. Well, not Infinite Worlds and Banestorm, but all the one-book settings, the licences and the well-researched historical settings. And most especially the setting-free genre books and rules. I have my own SF setting and fantasy setting, which I support myself, and feel passion and commitment towards. I have never been one for running adventures other people wrote. And rather than running a single never-ending campaign in a fixed setting I tend to start something new every three months (with overlaps) flitting between settings and genres. The status quo suits me down to the ground. So if SJG came over all passionate about and committed to some particular setting (other than one of mine, perhaps) I would actually be disappointed.


* As have many unsuccessful setting designs, which have dragged their publishers into bankruptcy. Passion and commitment aren't everything: you also have to be good, and lucky, and adequately financed.
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Last edited by Agemegos; 06-09-2008 at 10:58 PM.
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Old 06-09-2008, 10:56 PM   #74
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Default Re: Does GURPS need original-setting world books?

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Originally Posted by griffin

So why is it that other companies have launched successful settings?
And why is it that SJ Games can not do so?
Because very few of those other companies are selling games touted as "generic." GURPS so strongly identifies itself as the "generic" game -- right down to its name -- that it inherently turns off customers who don't want "generic." Those are the customers who buy settings. And to be fair, you can't support "generic" with a setting. You have to support "generic" with either settings, plural, or rules. Multiple settings require way more people and dollars than we have, so we stick to rules. It's a conscious decision, and there's no mystery surrounding it.

A lot of people fail to realize that SJ Games isn't some huge corporation with dozens of employees, branch offices, an international presence, and pull in the book trade. SJ Games has never broken 30 employees that I know of, has often dipped below 20 heads, and is essentially a small Texas business that happens to be known to certain hobbyists because the founder poured his heart and creativity into some cool games. The overwhelming majority of names you see on the books are those of freelancers or ex-employees, and don't represent current strength; e.g., many people think that David Pulver and Phil Masters are "at" SJ Games, but in fact they're freelancers in Canada and the UK, and work for other companies, too. And people frequently mistake the efforts of foreign-language publishers for SJ Games' efforts, when the truth is that we provide the license but don't own or control those publishers.

So when I say we lack the resources to support multiple settings, I'm hardly exaggerating. Knowing what I know about my own line, I'd say that supporting even one setting in a "living," ongoing fashion would dry up all other support for the system.
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Old 06-09-2008, 11:30 PM   #75
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Default Re: Does GURPS need original-setting world books?

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Originally Posted by Kromm
So when I say we lack the resources to support multiple settings, I'm hardly exaggerating. Knowing what I know about my own line, I'd say that supporting even one setting in a "living," ongoing fashion would dry up all other support for the system.
I just want to post my opinion. Granted SJ Games is too small to work on worlds and settings but one thing I think would be really good would to have GURPS do more close work that directly relates to what is "hot" in the market. For instance, I learned about GURPS from GURPS Vampire the Masquerade* which was a very good book. They explained the powers and the rules system was straight forward. This book had to be licenced but could GURPS do a book like Secret Vampire Societies and have rules for vampires and some discussion of how the would hide in society and how they may interact with other vampires ect.?

I think that if GURPS is just a rules system then should GURPS try to follow other games and then give rules for how to play them using GURPS rules? Also the GURPS writers are good at explaining the rules and how things should work.

*After this I stopped playing RPGs until DF came out.
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Old 06-10-2008, 12:17 AM   #76
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Default Re: Does GURPS need original-setting world books?

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Originally Posted by Kromm
Because very few of those other companies are selling games touted as "generic."
The exception would be HERO Games, and they don't have a big setting either.
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Old 06-10-2008, 05:56 AM   #77
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Default Re: Does GURPS need original-setting world books?

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Originally Posted by griffin
Perhaps I missed this traditional vampire. Where does such a vampire occur? I don't think it meshes with Bram Stoker's Dracula. Such vampires do occur in Anne Rice's "Interview with a Vampire", but they are the ones to be the protagonist pities. They certainly aren't terribly interesting as adversaries.
There were vampires before Bram Stoker wrote a novel (the aristocratic, charismatic vampire had appeared before in another short story, btw.), in folklore. A lot of different kinds, actually.
Many cultures had a form of vampire lore (not even limited to European ones), and I can't actually recall any "sophisticated noble" kinds before the 19th century, though they might have existed.

Details like how they were created (I think there was something with stepping over a corpse before it was interred in eastern Europe somewhere) and what their powers (and limitations) were differed, but most were some kind of dreaded (and ugly) beast, a solitary predator that came out of its grave at night and attacked people out of some form of instinct.

Last edited by Smirg; 06-10-2008 at 06:00 AM.
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Old 06-10-2008, 07:48 AM   #78
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Default Re: Does GURPS need original-setting world books?

Quote:
Originally Posted by griffin
Perhaps I missed this traditional vampire. Where does such a vampire occur? I don't think it meshes with Bram Stoker's Dracula. Such vampires do occur in Anne Rice's "Interview with a Vampire", but they are the ones to be the protagonist pities. They certainly aren't terribly interesting as adversaries.
European Folklore. They are decaying bodies who bring death and disease to the living.

Sexy vampires are a result mostly of victorian prudishness, making it more able to write about sex in vampire metaphore than dirrectly.

Quote:
So why is it that other companies have launched successful settings?
And why is it that SJ Games can not do so?
How many tie


Quote:
Cabal has some very useful elements which I will gladly use in a Black Ops campaign - which is greatly altered from the canon or an Infinite Worlds campaign. Voodoo just doesn't appeal to me.
This is of course the exact oposite of what other people are saying though, here you are intentionaly mixing different settings enhancing their kitchen sinkness and makeing them all things to all people.

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Yes, but it just seems that GURPS settings have often been done with a superior "we know best" attitude. Let's do Shadowrun for adults! No cool, trendy vamps for us, we'll bring the guns and cinematic action, but none of that World of Darkness style stuff for us.
Are you talking Cyberworld, or Black Ops? As black Ops was written from the idea you are playing ops why do you need other groups to be playable as WOD did?
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Old 06-10-2008, 08:12 AM   #79
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Default Re: Does GURPS need original-setting world books?

It simply isn't true that GURPS has never had a supported successful setting, (unless your definition of support or success is much more stringent than mine).

How many books does it take to support a setting? THS has 15 books and e-books. I note that the OP cited Ebberon as an example of a supported setting; it has 21 books (not counting tie-in novels and the dubious "Adventurer's Guide" recycled art coffee table book).

How successful must a setting be? THS was award winning, critically acclaimed, and it must have sold somewhat well since the core rules went through 2 Editions. It's one of the only original SF settings since Traveller that seems to get discussed frequently on RPG.net's forums.

Caleban, how is THS not a "supported original setting" for GURPS?

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Old 06-10-2008, 08:15 AM   #80
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Default Re: Does GURPS need original-setting world books?

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Originally Posted by Smirg
There were vampires before Bram Stoker wrote a novel (the aristocratic, charismatic vampire had appeared before in another short story, btw.), in folklore.
Polidori's The Vampyre.
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