I am responding (in general) to both these blog posts…
Jeff’s Hobby Log – The Future of GURPS
A quick word to Jeff – you could “fix” your GURPS with some thoughtful purchases from Warehouse 23 (that’s the online store where you can order physical AND electronic goods from SJGames). There are full blown rules systems for Social Engineering, Magic of several flavors, Powers, mass combat… I think maybe you’re missing out.
K. David Ladage – The Future of GURPS
…and (in general) to detractors far and wide (and near) but most importantly to my fellow fans.
Here is my take;
We do NOT need a new edition of GURPS nor do we need it to be spun off into a new company.
What GURPS really needs is a good old-fashioned passionate targeted marketing campaign supported by a throng of enthusiast fans showcasing what they are actually DOING with GURPS. As a game. That is played with people on a tabletop.
First, a rebuttal;
“GURPS does not have support from Steve Jackson Games, they are (overly, inappropriately, unadvisedly…) focused on Munckin.”
FALSE: There are currently a couple dozen combined hardcover releases, softcover releases and softcover reprints, and some 100+ electronic (PDF) releases on Warehouse 23 including the monthly release of Pyramid. Calling Pyramid a magazine is kind of like calling a Jaguar a commuting vehicle. It’s a full-blown supplement usually with several useful GURPS articles. Is SJGames throwing more money behind Munchkin? Of course! It makes more money. But GURPS is not “languishing”.
EXTRA FALSE: Not only do the developers themselves but a HOARD of freelancers, contributors, and previous authors participate regularly on the official GURPS forums. I think that counts as support. In fact, having been involved in some 50+ games in my storied career as an RPG Enthusiast that kind of participation is above average.
“GURPS is not accessible by the common gamer, younger gamer or casual gamer. It’s a well-honed tool only safe in the hands of a trained grognard.” (possibly paraphrased for comedic purposes)
BUNK: Look. People today (young people, new gamers) are not like the pioneers (40 somethings and beyond) who struck out into the RPG wilderness with nothing but a box, two booklets, some strange plastic plain polyhedrals and a white crayon. They have iPads. They have 300 cable channels. They have full 4000k CGI video games at 1 billion frames per second beaming pure full-color awesome into their brains. On tap. You think you can hand a kid today a boxed set and say “try this” and come out with a roleplayer? HAH! How do I know? I’ve tried it. Doesn’t work on this crowd. Hell, I’m struggling to teach adults these days how to play. You think our kids have ADD? You know nothing John Snow!
There is only ONE way to create new gamers properly. SHOW THEM. I’m not talking about a one hour seminar on how the character sheet works, I’m talking about handing them a character sheet, taking 5 minutes to explain dice and then PLAYING. Not only does this help ease people into the ideas, but it’s MORE FUN! More fun = better impressions. If you are a GURPS fan and GM and you hand someone the Basic Set and say “go make a character” I personally feel you should be tried for crimes against roleplayers.
Are we really becoming THAT lazy and antisocial that we want some magic pamphlet that converts looky-loos on first touch?
The books ARE a great reference because that’s what game books SHOULD be. A great reference. I want to find stuff fast. I can make a character WITH a player. I can create a campaign summary with templates and get you 90% there without you picking through the Encyclopedia GURPSica. But when you’re ready I have the Encyclopedia GURPSica! Now let me see your game do that.
RPG books should help you run the game to create a fun play experience. Your imagination should be creating the landscapes. Now they are gorgeous coffee table books designed to look through for entertainment. Does it not matter that the game should work? Is this not why we chose GURPS?
You want to support artists? Go find them on Deviant Art or various online galleries and then BUY a print from them! They make more money and the art is more portable. Create a gallery for your campaign summary and show your players what you want the game to feel like. You couldn’t possibly create a book for every occasion, but we have the power to create a game for any occasion AND stock it with the art WE want.
The books work and look like RPG books should. It’s about the game not the pretty pictures or Gygaxian prose (in contrast to my personal writing style…).
“GURPS is really best at realistic gritty stuff.”
FALSE: It’s good at that yes, but it handles cinematic action and lighter approaches just fine. Look at the above worked examples. Action! and Monster Hunters shows you how to simplify ranges, assessing difficulty and penalties and what rules to generally ignore to fit those genres. One of the PDF Power-Ups options even covers ideas for spending “points” of various kinds for improving success, scene editing, avoiding injury or death, and other “modern” system conceits. There are now three solid worked examples of how to tune GURPS for specific settings (Action!, Dungeon Fantasy, Monster Hunters). These examples are all “over the top” cinematic lighter rules settings.
“GURPS doesn’t have the Bestiary they promised.”
FALSE: Sure, there’s not “one Bestiary that rules them all”, but there are PDFs! You can pick and choose what creatures you want or want to skip. The aforementioned worked settings? Two of those have examples AND supplemental Bestiaries. There’s a series called Creatures of the Night. Some nice fellow out there converted the 3rd edition Fantasy Folk, Fantasy Bestiary and Aliens to 4th edition for the Character Assistant program. Fans are building monsters all over the place like on the GURPS Repository.
What GURPS Needs
Fans that talk about how they are USING GURPS for their games, not pixel-bitching about rules “fixes” and “what’s wrong”.
The Fans of GURPS do more damage to the brand than anything the actual game ever did to itself. There are more threads in the forums about how to “fix ST” or “why supers sucks in GURPS” and “Magic is broken” and “this or that is priced incorrectly”, yada yada yada YAWN. You can use GURPS to run the setting you want. You can use the rules as written to tune or customize the game to your needs. In fact, it does so SUPERBLY. I am constantly flabbergasted by posts by GURPS fans about GURPS!
I’m a rules-medium run-of-the-mill RPG enthusiast who also happens to be a GURPS fan. I don’t care about EVERY rule or “what’s realistic”. I just want a game that is consistent, thoughtfully designed and can be customized to the particular setting I want to run. I would like to believe that I’m “common”. In other words, most people just want to play, most GMs want to setup and run a fun game. They don’t care about the same detail or “issues” that the UBERGROGS of GURPSdom do.
GURPS needs more “common” system-medium fans that talk about “how I use GURPS” and “How GURPS fixed my game” and “How GURPS made my Saturdays awesome again” and “GURPS made my Starship Troopers RPG dream come true!”, etc. More talk and less tweaking. More enthusiasm and less bitching. More PLAYING and RUNNING. Less WANKERY!
GURPS fans need to SELL GURPS. Fan-to-fan marketing is POWERFUL. Word-of-mouth marketing is POWERFUL. Every time one of us goes off on how complicated, hard to plan, “why this is broken” side-trek we are literally discouraging the average non-tinkerers to play GURPS.
First, I propose the following fix to the forums. It should be broken up into three categories;
- GURPS – Playing The Game: this is where you discuss how you’re using GURPS, how to apply it to genres or settings, and other “how we use GURPS” topics. This forum is focused on using GURPS as written to create Traits that people are using for their games, actual play reports, discussion of settings, etc.
- GURPS – Rules Questions: this is the place to ask about rules or discuss the rules as written.
- GURPS – Builders: this is the place to discuss rules changes, debates, house rules, proposed fixes and other “deep dives” into the GURPS sphere. Tinkerers and Builders come here to tinker and build.
Then we can point people to 1 or 2 and caution them to wade into 3 “with the awareness of a diver on Shark Week”. Grognards and GURPSians can frolic about 3 with wild abandon extolling the virtues of “my GURPS” while leaving the rest of us “common” GURPS players to the business of just playing it.
Second, GURPS needs an old-fashioned marketing campaign. It needs ad-banners on every RPG forum in existence. It needs Facebook ads. It needs Google Ad Words. It needs Reddit presence (did you know there’s a GURPS Reddit?). It needs fans running games at local cons. It needs fans running games at local game stores. It needs more Obsidian Portal sites. It needs to Proselytize like BK sells Chicken Fries!! (OK, perhaps I’m getting too excited…)
Finally (Most importantly?), WE (the fans) need to work with GURPS like it’s a ROLEPLAYING GAME. A real dyed-in-the-wool RPG that you play. At a table. With people. And dice. We need to stop debating why ST is broken and instead write a blog post about “how I did Superman with GURPS and lived to enjoy it”. We need to stop hammering people over the head with our “toolkit” and instead show them the awesome stuff we PLAYED with it! Show me yours, I’ll show you mine.
The Industry has changed. Kickstarter and boutique are in. Mass production is out. SJGames WILL get there! I really hope SJGames gets into print-on-demand. I really hope they figure out a way to manage your PDF library so you can combine series and then print them as books. Hell, they jumped into digital publishing before it was cool (oh, SJGames, you hipster…), it only makes sense they get in on the latest revolutions.
However, my duty to the game I love really has nothing to do with any of that. My duty is to talk it up, play the hell out of it, and share the love.
I hope they keep producing the amazing supplements and ideas and options, because GURPS really is one-of-a-kind. I imagine they will. We have a lead-developer, assistant-developer and a cadre of repeat-freelancers. Steve Jackson still loves GURPS like we do. The more we play, the more people join us, the more GURPS that sells, the more GURPS that gets made.
I’m really tired of hearing about what Steve Jackson needs to do to (fix, repair, help, increase…). The GURPS team is pumping out hundreds of pages of GURPS every year!! WE need to be more supportive. WE need to get the word out, play the game and talk it up. WE need to educate our fellows about the TRUE state of GURPS.
GURPS is alive and well. GURPS continues to be well supported.
Now get off my lawn and go play some GURPS.
Sincerely – With nerdly love,