King Arthur Pendragon

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Trying a New System: GURPS

As I approach the end of the year, I review the last twelve months in game terms. The truth is I didn't play a whole lot. The first few months are a blur, then I started a Deadlands Reloaded campaign which didn't end well and then a short hiatus from September until now during which I ran a short Eclipse Phase one-shot. It was not a very productive year in terms of roleplaying games, which was worse than last year (at least, I completed a short Trail of Cthulhu campaign).

Between March 2011 and today I have played The Complete Masks of Nyarlathotep for Call of Cthulhu (which ended abruptly), Cthulhu Apocalypse for Trail of Cthulhu (successfully completed). Our group tried Primetime Adventures in a steampunk setting. The system didn't work for us. We also tried Strands of Fate and never made it past the first session. This year I returned to a more classic system with the aforementioned Deadlands Reloaded for Savage Worlds. We played around 6-7 sessions, before I pulled the plug.

Now, I find myself reading GURPS aka Generic Universal Roleplaying System. I think I've been trying too hard to find a game that suited my group's tastes. We never played more than a half a dozen sessions of a particular system, and I attribute that to the disconnect between us and the systems we have tested so far. It's not that my group is devoid of creativity and imagination. It's just that some systems are ill-suited to our playing style. The bottom line is: our group enjoys classic systems, you know, the ones where the game master really acts like a game master, by introducing scenes and directing the story (don't confuse this with railroading), and running the world with the players playing their characters and influencing the world through their actions.

Of all the systems we tried this past year and a half, only Savage Worlds and Call of Cthulhu fall into this category. And, in the former, I ended the campaign abruptly for reasons that have nothing to do with the system qualities and everything to do with the awful "railroadiness" of the published campaign we were playing (The Flood, if you must know) and, in the case of Call of Cthulhu, the campaign just fizzled when one of the players couldn't play anymore.

Instead of trying to find the perfect system to play (whatever that means), I tried to find the perfect system for us. And that system, ladies and gentlemen, is GURPS. Yes, the venerable and old generic system from Steve Jackson Games finally fell into my hands, I read it from cover to cover (actually, from covers to covers since the system is two books) and I really enjoyed it. In fact, I am running a fantasy one-shot called A Caravan to Ein Arris, which was included in 3rd edition, now made available for free in SJG site and the group is involved and having a lot of fun. I'm already planning a space opera campaign, a steampunk campaign stealing ideas from our PTA game and a cyberpunk campaign.

The main reason to use a generic system is one of practicality and convenience. Each time I want to play a new setting, I have to read a new system. Sometimes, this means reading a 300-page rulebook for a campaign that may or may not materialize. This way, even if we only play a one-shot or a small campaign, we can relax in knowing that the rules won't change and the players won't be forced to learn a new set of rules for our next campaign.

So, from now on, this blog won't be so focused on AD&D. You'll read a lot more about GURPS and my experiences with the system as I develop the campaign. But I also intend to cover many RPG topics as suit my tastes. Hopefully, our group will have fun once again playing and I can write here on a regular basis.
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