Monday, February 6, 2017

Crisis of faith

I've got a bunch of stuff to say on The Trumpening, Hillary's loss, assorted protests, and a great many other things. I just need to feel the desire to pound the keyboard into something resembling a post.

This, however is not that post.

This post is about GURPS (4e?), and Savage Worlds.

Specifically, I'm a big fan of generic systems. I'm also a fan of both systems that are fast and fun while offering depth, and systems that have the near infinite gritty crunch. This is GURPS appeal, in some ways it's actually a pretty simple system (when in doubt, roll 3d6 unless damage says otherwise), but it's got layers and layers of complexity to use or ignore as desired.

But it's still horrifyingly complex to the average player, and has a few things that could be tightened up, as I outlined a few of here.

Savage worlds fixes some of them, and maintains others at about the same level of broken. The weapon tables are balanced weird and a couple environmental hazards are wonky, but I've tried to run a game using Ultra-Tech, so...

Plus, the possibility of themed decks and dice and things, plus the freeform tabletop tactics nature of the system (similar to things like WH40k, made particularly apparent by how easily the system converts into a Miniatures Tactics game!) all have a certain allure.

I'm being tempted away from GURPS.

I'll still use it, probably. But GURPS 4e has been my go-to Favorite System for a while. And now it has competition. Some of it can be houseruled to bring up to ways I like doing things more. Some things require a pretty substantial mechanics change.

I can explain Savage Worlds to a potential player in 10ish minutes, start to stop. I can do similar with GURPS 4e. Except Savage Worlds doesn't cause them to run screaming away when they look at the actual rules.

If they ever make a GURPS 5e, I've no doubt it will bring me crawling back. But for now, it looks like I'm multiclassing with my systems.


  1. Please ignore this compulsive knee-jerk response. It is pre-programmed to be generated every time I read someone leaving Steve Jackson's ample bosoms.

    A factor in my gaming choice is often the reality check. Do the rules pass or fail a comparison to reality?

    Falling damage in AD&D is a famous example of a fail.

    Do you have to make up a ruling on the fly as a GM because the simplicity of the game's design simple did not account for the situation you're reffing?

    I've got a paper copy of Hero 5e around here JUST for when someone complains at the size and complexity of GURPS. I am tempted to get a copy of Traveller 5e just to show people that it's not just generic systems that get to NYC Yellow Pages size.

    I might have mentioned it a time or two, but...

    I had been running several games at once and while the players were often happy with the WORLD, we were constantly going off-rule for things that were reasonably accountable. Like swords in Twilight 2000.

    I ended up converting my settings to GURPS in no small part because it could be used for both Traveller and Twilight *AND* that it had actual black letter rules for contentious situations that had already occurred.

    I remain a fan of 4e because I see how simple and refined it is compared to 3eR. It'd take a heck of a lever to move me to a new system now.

    The reality check came up several times with other systems, and a major selling point after AD&D was that you could actually kill someone with a knife in GURPS. Even a 1st Level Magic User could fend off someone with a dagger for a couple of minutes, let alone a Fighter.

    As far a play speed goes... Oftentimes the issue isn't the rules, but the GM and the players. They set the pace more than anything else I've seen.

    The big "fail" on GURPS always has been character generation. But it's a fail of overabundant choice. The GM has, as I've come to see, provide character templates to route the players towards their party-roles. A couple times of using an 80% character from a template, most players start wanting to make more customization than is "allowed" and are generally pleased to find that it IS allowed by the rules (and the GM has to notice that templates are really suggestions not mandates).

    The big joys of GURPS are that once the character is finished, the PLAYER is done with the big complexities of the system. Never underestimate that liberty.

    1. I totally get it. I really do like 4e, hence why this is "crisis of faith" and not "hey I found a cool system"

      One of the things I really like about GURPS is that if it doesn't have rules for something, you can whip some up pretty readily. "Does this come reasonably close to real world?" gets you in the ballpark.

      That's actually one of the things holding me to GURPS. GURPS, if I want to tweak something, I know pretty much all the rules on which the game works. It's simulationist: if I can approximate it, I can do it. Armor, equipment, you name it. Savage Worlds has a few things I'd like to tweak for it to be perfect for the feel I want, but there's a level of obscurity built in that makes it a lot harder.