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Old 10-05-2020, 12:27 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2015
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Default How would you promote GURPS to RPG newbies?


There's a lot of overlap here with the "The Beauty of GURPS" thread, but I'd like to focus on aspects that are easy to understand for someone who is not familiar with the specific mechanics of this system or that system, or any RPGs at all.

So, how would you explain to someone who has never played an RPG before, but has heard of That Other Game (because who hasn't?), why GURPS is best?

Please, no arguments that GURPS is not always best, because a) I'd like to bring a new player over to our side, and b) it is. :)
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Old 10-05-2020, 01:30 PM   #2
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Default Re: How would you promote GURPS to RPG newbies?

GURPS is better than DND in every way I can think of except ease of access to noobs. Just pitch a game in any genre except a very specific subset of dungeon fantasy and tell them GURPS can do that but DND can't and you're rolling. I generally dodge the issue of the character creation learning curve by helping them through it, or just doing it for them outright. Ask everybody to describe their character within the boundaries of the game you want to run and create that together, and/or provide sample PCs with a plain-English description of what they're good at.
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Old 10-05-2020, 01:43 PM   #3
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default Re: How would you promote GURPS to RPG newbies?

3d6, roll low for success. Much simpler than D&D. Lots of modifiers for different circumstances? Sure -- but D&D has its own long lists, plus generally classification into different buckets of modifier types (circumstance, status, armor, item, etc) and stacking rules for which ones combine.

Able to build the character you imagine, rather than play someone else's out of a splatbook. (See the Beauty of GURPS thread. Does involve knowing character creation, but picking Advantages isn't really more complicated than picking synergistic sets of feats.) Character budgets afford some room for color without gimping your main abilities.

Less dependency on the "stack the one trick pony until the system cries uncle" design. Blended character types are still viable, if not the best at everything they do. In most versions of D&D, mixing in anything outside the designated path means you gimp your character. (The exceptions are usually the broken paths through the D&D prestige class splatbooks, where if you happen to do exactly the right thing every level for eight or ten levels, you can activate all the right special features for synergy godhood. And you thought picking Advantages was hard? :))

Tactics pay off. Very often in D&D, the most effective thing to do is just attack repeatedly. Kill them before they kill you. Many more tactical options in GURPS, and choices do make a difference. (Some players will find that a disadvantage, because making choices means you have to know something about those choices -- not to mention actually choose.)

Bribes for RP choices (Disads and Quirks).
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Old 10-05-2020, 01:52 PM   #4
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Default Re: How would you promote GURPS to RPG newbies?

That's really not how I'd approach it. Someone new to RPGs wouldn't likely know one rules set from another. I'd offer to run a campaign about topic X, and mention that I'd be running it in GURPS, but that wouldn't be the main focus; the focus would be on the setting, the type of characters, and the mission statement.

I have had one player who was new to RPGs, and a couple who had given them up years ago, who were tempted back. This approach worked with them.
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Old 10-05-2020, 01:55 PM   #5
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default Re: How would you promote GURPS to RPG newbies?

If they've never played an RPG before, I'd agree. At the point, you're just pitching the idea of a game that is an interactive, collaborative story, so setting and characters and themes are the relatable points -- in which case mechanics are pretty much irrelevant, and about the only selling point would be breadth of settings with the same system. I assumed "bring a new player over to our side" meant a D&D player, but the OP does say "never played an RPG before".

So, "3d6 roll low" followed by "tell me about your character".
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Old 10-05-2020, 02:00 PM   #6
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Default Re: How would you promote GURPS to RPG newbies?

The best argument for GURPS is that it's designed to handle lots of genres, not just fantasy. "Learn one system, and we can play everything from horror to action to swashbuckling pirates," is still as powerful a selling point as it was when GURPS came out.

GURPS is also great for newbies because it's a simple core system, assuming 1) you use pregenerated characters at first; 2) you don't try to pull out every single rule on them at once. Stick to what's in GURPS Lite, plus maybe one or two other rules you like. I've had plenty of people at conventions play GURPS for the first time and and express delight how "it's so much simpler than D&D!"

And to continue to plug my GURPS blog, you can grab over a dozen 1-2 session, non-fantasy adventures designed for new-ish players, with pregenerated characters, handouts, and VTT assets - most of which have been battle-tested with new players many times :-)
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Old 10-05-2020, 02:40 PM   #7
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Default Re: How would you promote GURPS to RPG newbies?

1) The creators of [other game] have said that they write for a 5th-grade level while the writers of GURPS have said they write for a high-school level. This allows for a more robust, inclusive rule set that is better explained. It also explains the relative popularity of the two games.

2) [Other game] is designed for fantasy and only one type of fantasy at that. While attempts have been made to adapt it to other genres, they inevitably fall short. GURPS adaptability gives the Gamemaster much greater narrative freedom to create whatever game the group wants to enjoy.

3) When SJG releases a new book, it's generally either a sourcebook full of background information and helpful hints on running a game (Fantasy, Action etc) or it's new ways to apply the rules to a type of game to get desired results (Martial Arts, Technical Grappling etc) and it's always easy to just not buy the ones you don't want. In contrast, when [Other Company] releases a new book, they try to make sure everyone HAS to buy it. There will be some race/class/ability that everyone wants. Some critical piece of lore that is referenced later or something so that those who don't buy are left behind.
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Old 10-05-2020, 02:50 PM   #8
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Default Re: How would you promote GURPS to RPG newbies?

Infinite flexibility within a simple framework. It is simple a 3d6 roll against a target number, after all, and you only have to roll the (modified) target number or less to succeed. In general, I would suggest a Supers genre game as the first game, as Supers games tend to be rather forgiving, and the system really shines at 500 CP. In less forgiving settings, the lethality of the system can distract from the game play for beginners. At lower point values, the differences between the system and other systems are not nearly as apparent.

For example, at 500 CP, you could play a warrior mage who specializes in using a great axe and RPM, and whose great axe is a potent magical artifact that stores most of their magical power. Using the great axe, the character could cast spells of profound potency that could destroy destinies and shatter souls. Such a character is nearly impossible in any other system, and even other universal systems would have more difficulty creating as effective of a character.
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Old 10-05-2020, 03:39 PM   #9
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Default Re: How would you promote GURPS to RPG newbies?

Yeah, the framework is simple, but the rest of it is very variable leaning toward crunchy. Even GURPS Lite is crunchy in spite of its small package—there are just so many options and skills and advantages to read through and pick. So, it really depends on which RPG newbies you're trying to sell the game to. More and more, GURPS as-is doesn't fit my group, which I know is partially my fault for complicating things in my own games.

I mean, okay, if I'm being honest, I think the biggest hang-up is probably skills. Some people really like having all of these skills, but I really have to tweak everything to revolve around Wildcards because there are just so many skills, but I've already talked about that here.

I think I'm ranting a bit (because I'm tired) and also injecting so many of my personal preferences (and I'm not saying I'm right, I swear), but what I'm trying to get at is that it really depends on the newbies.

"Yeah, it's kinda like D&D, but it's cool because you can use it to play any genre—it's not just made for fantasy. We can do sci-fi, a Western, something post-apocalyptic, whatever! Most of it comes down to rolling 3d6 versus a target number, which would be something like a skill. Out of the box, GURPS has a lot of different target numbers and modifiers. To me, GURPS is all about options, but it can be too many for a lot of people, including myself sometimes. However, the nice thing about GURPS is that it's very modular, so there are ways to adjust the rules if you want greater or fewer options. Do you want a distinction between skills for Body Language, Current Affairs, Detect Lies, Interrogation, Observation, Research, and Search? Or do you want just one Investigator! skill that covers all of it?"

I just think GURPS is a bit backwards in that it starts big and there are lots of tweaks to make it simpler. I think it makes the game less newb-friendly, but I also think that also largely depends on the GM. I think I was in 5th or 6th grade when I started playing 3e, and I loved it, but I also had a great GM who was a great teacher.

At the very least, I would very likely start with "Pointless Slaying and Looting" from Pyramid #3/72: Alternate Dungeons or "Pointless Monster Hunting" from Pyramid #3/83: Alternate GURPS IV. No matter if the newbs end up wanting more crunch or not, I think it's a very safe place to start. It shows off enough of GURPS's strengths without brain-blasting someone who says "Oh, cool. So, it's like D&D?"
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Old 10-05-2020, 04:47 PM   #10
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Default Re: How would you promote GURPS to RPG newbies?

I am, like Bill, inclined not to sell GURPS to newbies, but rather sell the campaign. Someone without experience in rpgs has no interest in the virtues of point-by vs. class and level systems or 3d6 roll low vs d20 roll high. I do think it's wise to shield them from the character creation system, which, though marvelous in many ways, really only shows its power down the road. Talk to them about what kind of character they want to play, explain that there are trade-offs ("You can be really smart or really strong but probably not both at the same time. You can pick what we call 'disadvantages' that let you have more useful traits, but they'll limit your choices in play from time to time, sometimes when it's very inconvenient."), built the character for them, and go over it after the fact to explain precisely how everything works and potentially tweak the character. A gung-ho newbie might want to build their own character, but I'd at least want to be in the room when it happens to offer advice and steer them out of blind alleys.

For new-to-GURPS-but-not-rpgs, I'd prefer to do the same, but would be a little more confident in letting them make their own character (but, of course, advising before and reviewing after). My consideration there would likely be to try something outside of whatever genre they were most used to. If, say, I were starting with someone who played That Other Game (tm), I'd go with a SF game or modern-ish setting. That gives more room to set expectations free of the other game's preconceptions.
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