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 12-29-2008, 10:33 AM   #1
Mercator
 
Mercator's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Default [AP] 9,401: An Introduction to GURPS

This is the report of our first GURPS game (at last!), which took place last Saturday. It went well, and we had a great time. I hope the experience can be useful to newbies who feel intimidated by the rules, by showing that that one can prepare a good GURPS adventure quickly and without too much effort.

This thread is also posted at the FLAT BLACK Wikidot site.

The Mechanics

There were 5 players, with me as the GM. I chose the scenario 9,401, written by Brett for his superb setting FLAT BLACK and GMd by him in these forums. Besides being a very good scenario, I chose it because it consisted mainly on research and roleplaying, and with relatively little action scenes that would require complex rules and many die rolls. This being a one-shot with a new ruleset, I wanted to keep rules and prep overhead to a minimum for everybody, and I think I succeeded.

The rules used were those in GURPS Lite 4th Edition, with a few extras from the Basic Set that I consider important:

  1. Rules for autofire;
  2. rules for hit locations;
  3. rules for grappling and pinning (specially for Ashbless and Lethe).
I created a Google group to discuss the setting about a week before play and make all relevant material available to the players. Everybody who read the rules found them easy to understand and there were no game-mechanics problems; however, on reflection, I should have done this much earlier to address possible complications. I posted the URL to the scenario website (or rather, to a previous version that does not refer to the already played-out game), where players picked their preferred characters on a first-come, first-served basis. Enough people was interested (or wanted me to shut up about the game) that all five characters were taken: Ashbless and Lethe were the most popular choices, with Ishikawa and -surprisingly- Thorrson left last. A few days before the game, I sent them the Prelude so that they could get a better feeling for the atmosphere and to reduce the need for descriptions, so once everybody was ready, we could jump straight to the glacis in Scene 1.

Since 9,401 was originally written for another game system, I had to convert the pre-made characters, equipment, etc. to GURPS:

For the characters, Brett had kindly sent me the original character sheets and conversion guidelines, so the GURPS versions were easy to write. Icelander wrote some very detailed conversions himself, but I wanted to keep the sheets simple and without rules outside Basic (or Lite, if possible), so I choose to do my own, much simpler versions. Incidentally, lack of prep time made me ignore some vital skills that I had to adjudicate in mid-game; nobody seemed to mind much.

For the equipment, I used Icelander's large-caliber Gauss guns in the FB equipment thread (I could easily have taken the worked examples in Ultra-Tech, but the 4mm silliness bothered me too much), and standard APHEX grenades from p. UT152 for Naiooka's rifle. I also gave them TL10 nanoweave armors (p. UT172) and tactical helmets (p. UT180), along with Compact Targeting Scopes (p.UT149).

As an aside, I played with the idea of substituting the original explosive rounds the characters used (filled with a superscience explosive based on chelated antimatter) with a new, slightly less superscience ammunition with ultra-fast shape memory --which would be aerodynamic to pierce through armor but would expand inside the target as a hollow-point, therefore having both an armor divisor and a higher damage type. In the end I kept them as strictly military ammunition, available only for Naiooka's rifle; the DoJ pistols were beginning to get a bit too scary . . .

I rounded up the equipment list with some first-aid material from p. UT196-200 and treating Lethe's Superhacker and Ashbless' forensic swarms (the players liked the imagery of these) as infodump-granting gizmos that gave them the right clues on any success rolls in the relevant Skills (Forensics/Criminology for Ashbless, Research for Lethe).

We used no miniatures. There are only two fights in the scenario, so I didn't bother with hex grids, etc. The situation at Hesiod's was played out with a hand-drawn sketch of the place and rough distance estimates, and for the von Bork villa I borrowed the Isolated Estate from the old Merc:2000 corebook, which we used just for visual reference and not for detailed tactical combat.

And that was everything I had to do rules-wise. I could've prepared all this in a few hours; actually, it took many fragments of an hour scattered over more than a week, but that was due to me having little free time, not to the process being difficult. The point is: you can prepare a complex, very rewarding GURPS adventure with just Lite, a few bits from the Basic Set, and a suitable equipment catalog. Of course, having Brett answering all my questions about FLAT BLACK in exhaustive detail helped to get me and the players in the right mood (which was a big part of the fun), but the purely mechanical part was easy to do myself.

In the next posts (hopefully in a few days, as time allows) I will describe the game itself.
__________________
Behind the Aegis - My dark fantasy setting in Classical Greece (discuss it here!).
Conversion of the supernatural skills in the Basic Set to Powers.

Last edited by Mercator; 01-28-2009 at 03:50 AM.
Mercator is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-30-2008, 01:52 PM   #2
Agemegos
 
Agemegos's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Oz
Default Re: [AP] 9,401: An Introduction to GURPS

Excellent! I put a lot of work into 9,401, and I'm glad to see it soldiering on.

I look forward to hearing what your bunch did with the death list.
__________________

Decay is inherent in all composite things.
Nod head. Get treat.
Agemegos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-30-2008, 03:57 PM   #3
Mercator
 
Mercator's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Default Re: [AP] 9,401: An Introduction to GURPS

Have you ever played Shadowrun? If not, prepare to be horrified ;-)

(althought to be honest, they played their roles quite better than the above might imply)
__________________
Behind the Aegis - My dark fantasy setting in Classical Greece (discuss it here!).
Conversion of the supernatural skills in the Basic Set to Powers.
Mercator is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-12-2009, 03:39 PM   #4
Agemegos
 
Agemegos's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Oz
Default Re: [AP] 9,401: An Introduction to GURPS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mercator
Have you ever played Shadowrun? If not, prepare to be horrified ;-)
You tease!

I've been sitting here, prepared for horrification, for nearly two weeks. Horrify me already!
__________________

Decay is inherent in all composite things.
Nod head. Get treat.
Agemegos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-13-2009, 02:49 AM   #5
Mercator
 
Mercator's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Default Re: [AP] 9,401: An Introduction to GURPS

My deepest apologies; the Urgent Need for Science (and the Need to Debug FORTRAN IV Code, which is something I don't wish to anybody) is holding up the Tale. It is, however, not forgotten, and I am writing it as time allows. Soon, very soon now . . .

M.
__________________
Behind the Aegis - My dark fantasy setting in Classical Greece (discuss it here!).
Conversion of the supernatural skills in the Basic Set to Powers.
Mercator is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-14-2009, 02:24 AM   #6
Mercator
 
Mercator's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Default Re: [AP] 9,401: An Introduction to GURPS

The Game

We started at the glacis around the Imperial Residence, with a squad of Marines standing watch over the crime scene and guarding a few arrested demonstrators several meters away (not in the original adventure, but I wanted to give the players a red herring; besides, it gave Ishikawa something to do in the first scene).

Each member of the team began to work on their specialties: Ashbless deployed her forensic swarms and Lethe asked for a copy of the surveillance tapes, while Ishikawa interviewed the demonstrators. I gave Ashbless a basic description of the crime scene with the most obvious features; Lethe got the video surveillance log and began to read it while I conducted Ishikawa's interviews (interestingly, they didn't think of interrogating the obvious suspects –the Marines in the first response team- which I was glad of). The demonstrators told her nothing of interest, but their invectives against “the System” and their obvious hatred towards Imperial authority gave the players a taste of the reception they would get from Cockaigne's inhabitants. This being a group used to playing Shadowrun together, I wanted to drill into them from the beginning the idea that they Really Shouldn't Screw Up This Time.

After a couple of hours, aircars from the press began to land in the vicinity of the crime scene and preparing their gear for the 8 AM news. The players understood that they needed to deliver an immediate official message discarding Marine responsibility in the death to calm down the masses and win some time, and Ishikawa was the obvious choice (her player has been actually trained in RL crisis management and communication with the press, so I followed this development with interest), so she delivered a short speech to be broadcast in the morning news. The player roleplayed it quite well, actually: he handled the more hostile journalists gracefully (I made a point of interrupting and trying to irritate him, but he didn't bite), and the speech sounded a lot like I thought it would in real life, so I made him roll for Public Speaking with a generous bonus and he passed without any problems. Ishikawa's honest face and sweet smile reassured the masses that the DoJ would try really, really hard to find the guilty and ensure justice was done (remember this moment; it will be important later). No revolution before breakfast, thankfully.

Meanwhile, Ashbless had finished with the CS examination so she took the corpse to the Residence for the autopsy. I gave him Brett's autopsy report to keep him busy while the other characters debated possible motives, murder weapons, how to manage the press, etc.

By now Lethe had finished reading the camera log and identified Wong, the victim (Comment from Thorrson's player: “He had a working visa? He comes to a planet that is a slacker's paradise to work? Loser!”), and communicated his results to the group for deliberation. They requested IDs of the murderers and got the names of Oak and Foxx and their addresses, along with news of the existence of the Sons of Patrick Henry, an interstellar anti-tyranny, borderline-terrorist group. Again interestingly, they didn't as for feeds from other cameras to check whether Wong had come with the demonstrators or from another direction, which would have showed he wasn't related to the demonstration at all and saved them some time. Oh, well. They were debating what to do next when Ashbless called form the Imperial Residence: she had finished with the autopsy (the player, having a degree in Chemistry, gave Brett a Geek Point for the detail the autopsy report was written in) and found the key of the locker in the Hesiod's Health gym. The victim had obviously been tied up and abused, and then had run several days without food, dehydrated and in a state of extreme fatigue to the site of the demonstration. What to do now?

At this moment, they had already the names of the main people involved in the death, three addresses to investigate (Wong's worplace, the the suspects' workplace, and Hesiod's Health), and lots of ways to proceed. The group decided to pursue the investigation outside of the Residence, despite the ranting of the Resident (which I didn't play out for timing reasons, but implied to the players).

Then something very familiar happened: they started to debate how would they get to investigate with the "straitjacket" of having to actually follow legal procedures, preserve evidence, have their actions recorded, etc. Remember that our reference (myself included) for “SF gaming” is Shadowrun, where these things don't even come to mind, and you (I mean, we) solve problems by shooting at them with a minigun. This is a lot of fun, but not exactly in the spirit of FLAT BLACK, and it was hard to change the habit in a more serious game like this one (not that we tried too hard…). So I watched, half-irritated, half-amused how the players elaborated the most complicated and bizarre schemes (like sending someone in advance to Hesiod's in plainclothes and forcing the locker open, then if there was something of interest the rest would come up showing badges to get it, etc.) to get evidence without the need of a warrant (they were worried that the Imperial Judge Godunov was in the conspiration, despite having been told beforehand that Imperial Servants are incorruptible). Ironically, the player who insisted on getting warrants, showing up in places with their badges and actually following procedures was Naiooka's. There was a lot of debate about going with overt duty uniforms and official DoJ aircars or plain clothes and unmarked aircars from the Residence, not to draw attention, They choose the overt way. Unlike the game played out in the SJ Games forums, however, they didn't waste time requisitioning an arsenal from the Imperial Residence, which I was half-expecting and saved a lot of time too.

In the end, the balance of this scene was positive: the unnecessary complications and blatant disregard for the law the players were planning weren't at all in character, but we laughed and had a lot of fun, which was the whole point of playing in the first place.

Once the group had decided to leave the safety of the Residence, I took Naiooka's player (whose increasing frustration with the “special agents” he was stuck with was perfectly in character) apart , acted out the conversations with Lt. Grail and Sgt. Moesi, and gave him the duffel bag with the “special items”: satellite phone, demolition charges, foam grenades,etc. When I mentioned that he could call a Marine landing and orbital fire if things got bad, he didn't say anything, but you could see his eyes twinkle; boy was he happy. I began to wonder whether I had made a terrible mistake allowing this, but it was too late (fortunately, my fears were unfounded). Just in case, I had Lt. Grail insist that Naiooka did not reveal the orbital fire business to his colleagues unless essential, to avoid all of them Having Strange Ideas. Then we went back to the gaming table, where the rest were waiting in the aircars to go face a planet about to explode.

And this is all for now. More, soon.
__________________
Behind the Aegis - My dark fantasy setting in Classical Greece (discuss it here!).
Conversion of the supernatural skills in the Basic Set to Powers.

Last edited by Mercator; 01-16-2009 at 08:19 AM.
Mercator is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-14-2009, 03:29 AM   #7
Agemegos
 
Agemegos's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Oz
Default Re: [AP] 9,401: An Introduction to GURPS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mercator
(they were worried that the Imperial Judge Godunov was in the conspiration, despite having been told beforehand that Imperial Servants are incorruptible)
Good. Gudunov is not an Imperial Servant except technically. Like all Imperial district judges he was appointed by his colony (in his case, Cockaigne) to protect it from Imperial tyranny, ie. to protect colonial liberties from the jackbootish tendencies of PCs. Imperial judges are not the fruit of Imperial upbringings, psych screens in Imperial Service recruiting, or Imperial training.
__________________

Decay is inherent in all composite things.
Nod head. Get treat.
Agemegos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-14-2009, 04:04 AM   #8
Mercator
 
Mercator's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Default Re: [AP] 9,401: An Introduction to GURPS

Sure, but the focus of the adventure was not there. Having only one session to play out the whole scenario, we couldn't waste time engaging in intrigues around the Imperial Jugde, so I had to throw them several more-or-less-overt hints to direct their attention away from him.

M.
__________________
Behind the Aegis - My dark fantasy setting in Classical Greece (discuss it here!).
Conversion of the supernatural skills in the Basic Set to Powers.
Mercator is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-14-2009, 04:55 AM   #9
jimminy
 
jimminy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Default Re: [AP] 9,401: An Introduction to GURPS

Ljubljana, ey... Not too far from Hungary...
__________________
I have a role-playing (loosely) themed radio show 'The Role-Playing Hour'. Tune in online and listen! Audio clips (some are a little blue, I warn) here and episodes here!
jimminy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-28-2009, 03:16 AM   #10
Agemegos
 
Agemegos's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Oz
Default Re: [AP] 9,401: An Introduction to GURPS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mercator
Sure, but the focus of the adventure was not there. Having only one session to play out the whole scenario, we couldn't waste time engaging in intrigues around the Imperial Jugde, so I had to throw them several more-or-less-overt hints to direct their attention away from him.
It's odd, don't you think, that even when they know that time is short and that there will be no opportunity to continue an adventure, players still insist on dicking around with time-wasting side-issues rather than following straightforward leads?
__________________

Decay is inherent in all composite things.
Nod head. Get treat.
Agemegos is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
actual play, custom setting, flat black

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 07:32 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.