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Old 02-07-2021, 08:49 AM   #11
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Default Re: Kind of new to GURPS help!

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4. Are there any practical tips you can give on getting your campaign off to a good start with your players generally?
I have to think about the other questions, but here's what I do.

I start by coming up with a list of several possible campaigns: genre, setting, what goal the characters will be pursuing (from "not die in the apocalypse" to "gain vast wealth and reputation"). I ask the players to rate them, and pick a campaign that everyone finds at least acceptable and as many as possible are enthusiastic about. (My specific method is to multiply the number of campaigns by 2, and give each player that many points to bid on proposals. A 0 means "I'd rather sit this one out," and I won't run a campaign that gets a 0. A 1 means "only if there's no alternative," and I try to avoid that. A 2 is average enthusiasm, and I look for a campaign that a number of people rate higher. So far I've never had anyone in a campaign they rated at 1, and very few at 2.)

I get all the players together for a "pre-session." I talk a little more about my concept for the campaign. If it's one where varied missions are possible for the PC group, I ask them to pick one. I may ask them for limits (for example, when I ran a "consulting criminals" campaign, I asked if there were any crimes their characters wouldn't take money to help commit). I ask them to propose character concepts, and try to make sure that they aren't stepping on each other's ideas.

I work with them on character design. This can start out at the pre-session, with each player ideally doing a fairly detailed sketch. But I then take their sheets, type them all into my computer, and examine each of them for (a) correct arithmetic and total cost, (b) correct use of rules, (c) whether they have any traits that aren't legal without other traits they left out, or that won't work well without those other traits (a character with Engineer but without Math (Applied), or with IQ 8, for example), and (d) whether there are any other traits that seem to fit with their concept, especially if they would make the character cooler (this is purely at the player's discretion—I'm just making suggestions). In other words, I do the work of looking through the books for players who might be daunted. I do a couple of rounds of back and forth till the player and I are both happy with the character sheet.

I run a first actual session. This is largely about getting the players familiar with the world, with how a scenario is likely to start, and with how I GM. I may face them with a threat, but if so, either it's a lower-end one that I think they can defeat, or there's an NPC available to save them if they get in too deep (think Gandalf saving Bilbo and the dwarves from the trolls).

I hope this is some help.
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Old 02-08-2021, 02:55 AM   #12
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Default Re: Kind of new to GURPS help!

Another idea, if you are introducing GURPS to players who never used it: prepare and run a short sample adventure.

Don't ask the players to come up with durable, well-thought-out characters designed for a long campaign. Give them pre-made characters, in general terms satisfying their tastes as you know them, with suitable GURPS skills and Advantages.

Have the adventure feature showcase encounters that explain by way of examples the GURPS rules you'll be using. A typical social encounter, typical basic combat, typical use of non-combat skills, a ranged combat situation, a trickier social encounter that might end badly, a more complicated fight etc.

At this point, I would be telling you to use a pre-made adventure too, but since you have your own setting in mind, this sample adventure might as well introduce the background basics of the setting, so it would be a good idea if you designed the adventure for that setting of yours.

After playing that short adventure, the players will have a feeling for the system, will know basic information as to the setting, and will be able to decide for themselves, as to their characters, whether they want to
a) create their own character starting from zero,
b) tell you "I want a warrior" and accept what you come up with,
c) work with you on the halfway solution, i.e., start from a template and customize it.
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Old 02-08-2021, 04:32 AM   #13
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Default Re: Kind of new to GURPS help!

Thank you so much everyone for all your very helpful advice and time. It's really appreciated.

I suppose my first steps then are to really go on a deep read of just the core set so I am very familiar with the rules, as much as I can be before play.

Then start to define my setting in practical rule terms as that will automatically help me cut down the options for players and also help me bring the setting into focus.

I know the kind of fantasy setting I want I think, which is why I chose Gurps.

1. Very gritty, especially combat (game of thrones gritty)
2. A very unique magic system, maybe different magics depending on race/culture (wheel of time unique)
3. Religion to be deep and complicated (Glorantha/Warhammer)
4. Not D&D - I want adventures/conflicts to flow from the setting/culture and be at least semi realistic, not a group of murder hobos.
5. Have good solid reasons to be adventurers (earthdawn)
6. I am unsure on how traditional the fantasy i want (lord of the rings against something more untypical such as Talislantia)

its a big project to be sure, but I am not working due to Covid so have lots of time, so a good chance to get a lot of good work done on it!

I would like to post mechanic stuff (magic, templates, monsters) when I complete them for review, is this thread a good place to do that or should I start another?

Last edited by deanjday; 02-08-2021 at 04:37 AM.
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Old 02-08-2021, 04:42 AM   #14
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One thing I would like with magic, is that I find the spells in the base set, super precise, overly so for what i want. I would like spells to be much more variable, maybe changing effect depending on how much energy you put into them or how well you cast the spell by level of success.

Is this possible with Gurps? I want magic to come across as wild, dangerous and not so much of a science as the spells in the rules do.
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Old 02-08-2021, 04:58 AM   #15
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Default Re: Kind of new to GURPS help!

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Is this possible with Gurps? I want magic to come across as wild, dangerous and not so much of a science as the spells in the rules do.
You might want to look into threshold-limited magic of some kind. This typically allows the mage to put as much mana as he wants into spells, but there is a large cost. By adjusting the threshold, you can change the feel of the magic.

My experience with improvised magic is that my players hated it. They liked knowing their spell-list. Your players may be different. My best result has been with GURPS Sorcery, which is a variant of magic-as-powers + improvisation.

I like your idea of magic-is-wild, but my players didn't.
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Old 02-08-2021, 07:40 AM   #16
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What I think I mean is that the players decide how many points they put into each spell/power so each magical power has variety but once they choose the level they are casting it, it behaves reliably at that level as long as they cast it successfully.

Maybe small bonuses easily worked out depending on the success levels of casting it, extra damage, etc.
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Old 02-08-2021, 07:45 AM   #17
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Human Races/Cultures

I would like to have some real differences between races of men/cultures.
A bit like Middle Earth Dunedan/Rohan/Dunladings/Harn etc.

And some other traditional races but each with quite a twist, I am quite a fan of how Earthdawn did its non human races such as dwarves, elfs etc. Also the Runequest twisting of traditional races is very cool.
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Old 02-08-2021, 10:30 AM   #18
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Default Re: Kind of new to GURPS help!

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Thank you so much everyone for all your very helpful advice and time. It's really appreciated.
As a person who went from DM to GM I know how hard it can be. GURPS magic systems in D&D grew out of that transition back in the late 1980s.

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Originally Posted by deanjday View Post
I suppose my first steps then are to really go on a deep read of just the core set so I am very familiar with the rules, as much as I can be before play.

Then start to define my setting in practical rule terms as that will automatically help me cut down the options for players and also help me bring the setting into focus.
I wouldn't go for a deep dive but become reasonable familiar with the rules.

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I know the kind of fantasy setting I want I think, which is why I chose Gurps.

1. Very gritty, especially combat (game of thrones gritty)
The Combat lite section (only 4 pages) should fit your needs. I would NOT go for advanced combat until you and your players are reasonable familiar with that.

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2. A very unique magic system, maybe different magics depending on race/culture (wheel of time unique)
This could be tricky. GURPS Thaumatology gives more options that you will know what to do with but be warned it can be very overwhelming. Slayers Magic is an example of adapting the raw framework of already existing magic system.

The raw guts of the magic systems in GURPS is in The Various Magic Systems in GURPS.

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3. Religion to be deep and complicated (Glorantha/Warhammer)
Classic: Religion can serve a a blueprint if you already haven't fleshed out your religions. The Gods of Bethany is one of the most fleshed out pantheons I have seen in a long time.


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4. Not D&D - I want adventures/conflicts to flow from the setting/culture and be at least semi realistic, not a group of murder hobos.
The combat system on its own should discourage this. GURPS combat can be insanely deadly.

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5. Have good solid reasons to be adventurers (earthdawn)
6. I am unsure on how traditional the fantasy i want (lord of the rings against something more untypical such as Talislantia)
So basically High Fantasy?

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I would like to post mechanic stuff (magic, templates, monsters) when I complete them for review, is this thread a good place to do that or should I start another?
Look forward to that.
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Old 02-08-2021, 11:44 AM   #19
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Default Re: Kind of new to GURPS help!

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Thank you so much everyone for all your very helpful advice and time. It's really appreciated.

I suppose my first steps then are to really go on a deep read of just the core set so I am very familiar with the rules, as much as I can be before play.
The Basic Set is a lot to digest at once, and you don't need to know it all to play. Start with the "Quick Start" section of the Basic Set (p. 8), then get a good understanding of everything in GURPS Lite. After that, dig in to any particular section that you think will be especially relevant for your campaign. Don't think you have to know everything to start.

One thing you can do to feel more comfortable jumping in is to put a bookmark at the "Task Difficulty' section on p. 345. Then whenever you don't have an exact rule in front of you and want to keep the game moving, call for a roll using that as a guideline. A lot of times, when you look up the actual rule or precise modifier later, you'll find you came pretty close.

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Then start to define my setting in practical rule terms as that will automatically help me cut down the options for players and also help me bring the setting into focus.
The Trait Sorter, that I think was mentioned before in this thread can help with narrowing down PC options.

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Originally Posted by deanjday View Post
I know the kind of fantasy setting I want I think, which is why I chose Gurps.

1. Very gritty, especially combat (game of thrones gritty)
You don't need Tactical Combat for fights to feel gritty and dangerous, so starting with just the basic combat rules makes sense. Using Hit Locations can help though. The optional bleeding rules also add a level of grit and simulation, and give more importance to healer-type characters, but they also add bookkeeping,

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Originally Posted by deanjday View Post
2. A very unique magic system, maybe different magics depending on race/culture (wheel of time unique)
GURPS has a lot of magic systems available. I'd hesitate to try to mix a lot of them in your first campaign though. If you just use the default system, you can do things like restricting the colleges available to different cultures and races, or allowing some to use 'ritual magic' from page 242. You can also use the Psionics rules (p. 254) as one of your magic systems.

You mention that you have a few supplements. If you list the magic-related books you have, and what kind of feel you are looking for from different magic systems, we may be able to make some more specific suggestions.

I usually try to avoid recommending a lot of books to new GURPS GMs, you really can do a lot with just the Basic Set. Magic is one topic where having one extra book can make a big difference. GURPS Thaumatology in particular has a lot of information on designing and tweaking magic systems to make them do exactly what you want in a game/setting. I recommend it to non-GURPS players who are into designing their own magic systems. There are also a few magic systems that have their own PDFs, which are relatively inexpensive.[/QUOTE]

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3. Religion to be deep and complicated (Glorantha/Warhammer)
4. Not D&D - I want adventures/conflicts to flow from the setting/culture and be at least semi realistic, not a group of murder hobos.
5. Have good solid reasons to be adventurers (earthdawn)
6. I am unsure on how traditional the fantasy i want (lord of the rings against something more untypical such as Talislantia)
These to me flow more from 'world-building', setting, and campaign-frame decisions, than system mechanics. If you like a particular setting element from another game, it's usually pretty easy to carry it over wholesale, or to file the serial numbers off and use it in your GURPS campaign.

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its a big project to be sure, but I am not working due to Covid so have lots of time, so a good chance to get a lot of good work done on it!

I would like to post mechanic stuff (magic, templates, monsters) when I complete them for review, is this thread a good place to do that or should I start another?
I'd recommend starting new threads for each broad topic, with a good, descriptive title for each thread. You'll attract more comments from people with ideas and opinions on the particular issue you want advice on.
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Old 02-08-2021, 11:58 AM   #20
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Default Re: Kind of new to GURPS help!

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What I think I mean is that the players decide how many points they put into each spell/power so each magical power has variety but once they choose the level they are casting it, it behaves reliably at that level as long as they cast it successfully.

Maybe small bonuses easily worked out depending on the success levels of casting it, extra damage, etc.
The default system does that to some extent with many spells that have variable power costs depending on area of effect, damage caused etc.

A system that I really like is Path/Book Magic from Thaumatology. It is good for mostly non-flashy magic, which can have very powerful effects. It also has rules for altering the parameters of spells. It usually takes a significant time to cast, and avoids flashy, fireball-type spells, so it isn't normally battle-magic, although spells can be prepared ahead of time to be cast more quickly.
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