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GURPS vs. Pathfinder / d20 / etc.?
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CraigM
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 5:49 pm    Post subject: GURPS vs. Pathfinder / d20 / etc.? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I've read several threads on the problems / differences between Pathfinder / D20, and about the only conclusion that I've come to is that a lot of these problems seem to be addressed more elegantly in another system (like GURPS).

So, donning my asbestos undies here, and asking the question:

What's the board's opinion of GURPS when compared with D20 / Pathfinder? What do you find lacking in GURPS that you find works especially well in D20 / Pathfinder?
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
What do you find lacking in GURPS that you find works especially well in D20 / Pathfinder?


A playerbase.

Seriously, I haven't known of any actual GURPS games happening since 1995.

I know that's a bit of a cheap shot, but it also means that with like 17 years of rust - I'm really not qualified to dissect the ruleset, so I'm going to leave that analysis to others.
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Roy
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Well, anything vs Pathfinder means the other thing wins by default. Exception: FATAL. That's a tie.

If you want a more meaningful discussion, consider adjusting the parameters.
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hogarth
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

My understanding was that combat in GURPS (except perhaps for GURPS Supers or other high-powered games) was generally quite deadly. I'm not crazy about that.

Back in the day, I preferred the Champions/HERO system, anyways.
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CraigM
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Roy wrote:
Well, anything vs Pathfinder means the other thing wins by default. Exception: FATAL. That's a tie.

If you want a more meaningful discussion, consider adjusting the parameters.


If you want to discount Pathfinder, that's fine. I'm more interested in the differences between GURPS and D20.


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Juton
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Well, it depends on what type of game you want to play. I assume you're fine with a generic fantasy game, that's what d20 is best at.

You can do fantasy with GURPS, but what you'll get depends on what books you use, they have differing power levels and where written too different levels of competency. In general, you should have more flexibility in character creation in GURPS, but it may be a more lethal game. Also d20 has tons of supplements and adventure paths, with GURPS the DM will have to do more work.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The biggest problem with GURPS is this. That and despite having a combat resolution system so described and chargen so complex that it spits out sheets like this, it's actually pretty easy to die. That's a lot of work to go through to get impaled by a spear in your first combat and then have to start over.

GURPS is a product of its time, and that time was the mid eighties. A heady time when we believed that you could make one system that told every kind of story and when we believed greater amounts of minutiae made the stories more real. Those ideas, while understandable, were wrong. GURPS isn't even competition for d20. It's a bridge between HERO and Rolemaster. And I like HERO better.

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CraigM
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
The biggest problem with GURPS is this. That and despite having a combat resolution system so described and chargen so complex that it spits out sheets like this, it's actually pretty easy to die. That's a lot of work to go through to get impaled by a spear in your first combat and then have to start over.


I agree that combat is pretty deadly with GURPS, but I'm seeing a similar complexity between D20 and GURPS regarding skills, feats, and what-not. If anything, I think GURPS (4E, at least) makes the skills process a little more clean than D20.

FrankTrollman wrote:
GURPS is a product of its time, and that time was the mid eighties. A heady time when we believed that you could make one system that told every kind of story and when we believed greater amounts of minutiae made the stories more real. Those ideas, while understandable, were wrong. GURPS isn't even competition for d20. It's a bridge between HERO and Rolemaster. And I like HERO better.


Couldn't you level the same complaint against D20? The whole idea that you could create a generic system to tell every kind of story?


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Vebyast
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I played a GURPS game a couple of years ago, and Frank's ten-year-old views of it are not quite accurate any more. Some points:

1) With GURPS 4e, it's still complex, but it's not as bad as it used to be. The system has been streamlined significantly. Additionally, note that half of the entries on that action chart are "if you're wearing armor X" or "if you're using particular weird action Y"; if you built a DND3.x chart to the same standards, it would be thirty pages of "If you're a frenzied barbarian, go to step 75" and "If you're undead, substitute your charisma for your constitution on steps 212-227".
2) Character gen is complex only if you don't know what you're doing or you're using ten books, same as in DND. Additionally, the complexity of a character sheet does not reflect the difficulty of generating that character sheet. The boxes on the bottom, in particular, are all skills, and skills in GURPS are easier to think about than skills in DND. There's a list of them, their names describe exactly what they do, and an 18 in one skill gives you exactly the same chance of success on rolls as an 18 in another skill. Similarly, choosing advantages is one skim through the core book saying "Ooh, vampirism. I like that.".
3) Characters die fast against competent enemies, but no faster than in DND3.x. Sure, in GURPS a single bad roll against a solid hit will land you in negative hit points and requiring resurrection; however, in DND, a single bad save against a SoD will do exactly the same. The problem is also very much mitigated by playing with characters with 150 points. Having enough points for a 22 block and some healing goes a very, very long way in GURPS.

In particular, advantages of GURPS:
1) Two characters with the same point total are comparably powerful. In particular, linear-fighters-quadratic-wizards is nowhere to be found. If you have the points to buy fireball, you also have the points to buy enough archery to be competitive. If you can buy the Read Minds spell, you could also put points into Telepathy or really good Sense Motive. However, the system still gives players room to optimize by choosing skills and advantages that work together, or by playing to your strengths instead of your weaknesses.
2) There are ways to break the system, as usual, but it's obvious from ten or fifteen miles away when a player tries to do so. Most of the brokenness involves pumping 45 points into a single super-advantage or exploiting edge conditions as some advantage goes to zero, both of which are immediately obvious.
3) The disadvantages system, if exploited by the GM, is great for building fun RP. For example, we were required to buy 15% of our starting points in disadvantages. I ended up as a blaster wizard with some healing that was utterly convinced that flies were Satan's servants, thanks to various delusions, insanities, compulsions, and phobias. It was the most fun in a game I'd had in a long time.
4) You can build anything with one pass through the core book, and another pass through the magic book if you're a caster. That's a hell of a lot better than DND. Building an arbitrary character in GURPS takes half an hour if you've done it once or twice. Doing the same in DND would take encyclopedic knowledge of 40 books.
5) The rules are very, very easy for the GM to use to do interesting things, unlike DND. Having a huge table of well-labeled skills and players with tons of different skills means that you can call for a believable roll on the spot without killing your players. No more "uh, I don't know how to do that... just roll against charisma, we'll see what happens.".
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MfA
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The amount of GM intervention in character design in single pool pointbuy system doesn't sit right with me, especially bad in systems without level based caps/prerequisites.

3e/PF attempt to balance the game well enough so you can simply give the player books and let them go at it. Always ending up with something relatively balanced, unless they go out of their way to combine things which don't fit together. The games fail at it, but they try. GURPS has the build in assumption that the game will be broken by min/maxing and that the GM should sign off on every character sheet.


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TheFlatline
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

MfA wrote:
The amount of GM intervention in character design in single pool pointbuy system doesn't sit right with me, especially bad in systems without level based caps/prerequisites.

3e/PF attempt to balance the game well enough so you can simply give the player books and let them go at it. Always ending up with something relatively balanced, unless they go out of their way to combine things which don't fit together. The games fail at it, but they try. GURPS has the build in assumption that the game will be broken by min/maxing and that the GM should sign off on every character sheet.


Wait, you're saying magic vs melee is balanced in 3rd/pathfinder without any GM intervention?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH *gasp* HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

In order to make a non-magic user relevant past 5th level in 3e you *have* to have very specific GM intervention with what loot the dude ends up getting.

And pathfinder... Let's just say I stopped playing that pathfinder game because between my non-optimized alchemist (which was one of the less bullshit advanced classes) and the diplomancer, the rest of the party was obsolete.


(Edit: That's what I get for trying to read & post at work)

And what's the problem with GMs being involved in character creation? Supervision helps ensure characters who fit into the game setting. This isn't a bad thing, it's just a little more time consuming.

GURPS isn't the end-all be-all, but it's not a bad system. I've played some good GURPS games, and even wrote and ran a Dune setting for GURPS using like 2 or 3 books and about 20 pages of homebrew packages. Worked out pretty well.

I'll say GURPS is *really* powerful for people who like to homebrew settings, rules, etc etc. For people who just want to sit down & play, it's not that hot.


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Archmage Joda
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Actually, from my reading it seemed more like that post was trying to say that that's what 3.X/Pathfinder try to do, and he/she says outright that they fail to do so.
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TheFlatline
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Fair 'nuff

I will say though after I edited my post that any DM in 3.x or Pathfinder who allows any character in without reviewing it is asking for a broken game. I've never been in a game where the DM *hasn't* looked each character over looking for broken, cheating bullshit.

Criticizing GURPS for this is like criticizing D&D for using dice.
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TheWorid
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The real strength of GURPS is the encyclopedic sourcebooks for everything. The level of detail and accuracy, while not always the best thing for games, is fascinating. GURPS sourcebooks work great as generic supplements if you ignore the rules.
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CraigM
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

TheWorid wrote:
The real strength of GURPS is the encyclopedic sourcebooks for everything. The level of detail and accuracy, while not always the best thing for games, is fascinating. GURPS sourcebooks work great as generic supplements if you ignore the rules.


I agree, and have a whole shelf-full of GURPS source books. I'm more wondering about the rules themselves for GURPS vs. D20. What do you find disagreeable about the rules?


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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

CraigM wrote:
Couldn't you level the same complaint against D20? The whole idea that you could create a generic system to tell every kind of story?


d20 Modern doesn't work at all. d20 Future is nearly as bad. When we say "d20" we are implicitly talking about high fantasy adventures, because the system doesn't actually work for other things. When I talk about HERO, I'm really talking about Champions, because Fantasy Hero is bullshit.

I don't really know what GURPS is for. The promise is and always has been doing "everything" - but systems don't actually do that. I haven't read 4th edition GURPS at all. There didn't seem to be any point. What with the fact that the GURPS experiment was a failure and no one plays it.

-Frank
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CCarter
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 10:54 pm    Post subject: Re: GURPS vs. Pathfinder / d20 / etc.? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

@the op

You might find more interesting - if of course somewhat biased - discussion on the Steve Jackson forums.
I've never played this, though I've seen discussion around it.

GURPS is intended to be much more 'realistic' or detailed than D&D and that makes some actions by players like 'I drop down when the ogre swings and try to hamstring it with my sword' adjudicateable in detail.

Its more a simulation than an RPG and characters may well end up useless in combat or hopelessly imbalanced against each other - probably moreso than in D&D. In actual play GURPS has very finely detail skills and though you can default to related skills being asked 'do you have TL-6 Welding/Charioteering/ String Theory/ Wind Instruments' is liable to get pretty annoying fairly quickly. Because HP aren't inflationary (plus possible shock and bleeding and hit locations and so on) it looks pretty deadly. I don't particularly like the only having 4 stats - I'd rather have 6 or so. As regards the points system itself, I've seen or heard of various point system abuses like Claws being overpriced or Eidetic Memory being overpowered, so I'm not sure how well-designed this is. One earlier version of GURPS had an unlimited point feedback loop - though I'm not sure of specifics.

The sourcebooks are probably the highlight, I have a few of these. Many of them are at least interesting, though actually using GURPS rules is probably going to suck a fair bit of fun out.
I was fairly entertained by the GURPS lensmen minis rules which looked really trippy, because of the wacky-shaped aliens that are like 5 hexes long with arms coming off in hexes 1 and 3, and stuff like that. GURPS Vehicles in an unspeakable abomination of cube roots and whatnot, so you can figure out the exact dollar cost of your sailboat (which you then buy with the arbitrary amount of money bestowed by your Wealth advantage, IIRC). GURPS hi-tech by repute is going to result in lots of PC vapourization. Infinite Worlds is a reasonably interesting alternate-Earth book.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 6:34 am    Post subject: Re: GURPS vs. Pathfinder / d20 / etc.? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

CCarter wrote:
GURPS Vehicles in an unspeakable abomination of cube roots and whatnot, so you can figure out the exact dollar cost of your sailboat (which you then buy with the arbitrary amount of money bestowed by your Wealth advantage, IIRC).


GURPS Spaceships (for fourth edition) looks to be a huge improvement.
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hogarth
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
When we say "d20" we are implicitly talking about high fantasy adventures, because the system doesn't actually work for other things.

Actually, it's way narrower than that. The D20 system works (sort of) for D&D-style adventures, and that's a thing in itself with its own weird quirks, etc.
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mlangsdorf
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Pros of GURPS vs d20
* More flexible character creation. Not only are there more options, you can adjust the depth vs breadth parameters more easily. In GURPS, you can have a low skill cap, high points game in which unskilled characters have lots of unique abilities. It's harder to that in d20 because feats and power are almost always tied to level.
* More detailed combat. GURPS combat rounds are 1 second long, and aren't particularly abstract. If you like this sort of thing, there are lots of tactical options in how to attack and defend, when to retreat, and the like.
* Better sourcebooks. Covered be previous posters.
* Better integration of technology. A fantasy style GURPS game has access to sensible rules for gunpowder weapons, ranging from primitive arquebuses to six-shooters and automatic weapons. Good enough guns eventually take the focus away from melee combat, but there's lot of options to have guns, spells and swords in the game.

Pros of d20 vs GURPS
* Beastiaries. d20 has all kinds of Monster Manuals. Not all of them are any good, but they're available when the GM needs a monster. GURPS doesn't have many beastiaries, which means writing up most monsters from scratch.
* semi-reliable measures of power. Even with the wizards vs fighters debates, it's still pretty easy to guess what kind of foes a 8th level party consisting of a Rogue, a Warlock, a Favored Soul, and a Warblade can take on. A group of 300 point GURPS characters might be a bunch of highly skilled researchers, detectives, conmen, and infiltrators with minimal combat skills, or a highly optimized bunch of knights and wizards. It's much harder to estimate threats.
* nifty magic items. d20 usually has more interesting magic items. GURPS magic items tend to be lackluster.

Both games have combat that can be slow and complicated, so that's a wash. And both games have complicated character creation systems for anything meaningful: sorting through 300 feats with prerequisite chains and all is not faster than sorting through a few hundred advantages and disadvantages.

One last comment:

My experience after years of playing is that GURPS is not particularly deadly unless people are using modern rifles and automatic weapons. The average PC can take 20-30 points of damage before being at the risk of death, most melee weapons do 5-10 points of damage, and the risk of death is pretty low. The risk of falling unconscious after taking half that damage is pretty high, so most PCs can be taken out of the fight after 1-3 blows, but only determined attackers kill PCs in combat time. Modern automatic weapons change that (doing 15-30+ damage per bullet, firing 10+ bullets per attack... a burst of 7.62mm fire can kill an unarmored character in a single round).
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Vebyast wrote:

3) The disadvantages system, if exploited by the GM, is great for building fun RP. For example, we were required to buy 15% of our starting points in disadvantages. I ended up as a blaster wizard with some healing that was utterly convinced that flies were Satan's servants, thanks to various delusions, insanities, compulsions, and phobias. It was the most fun in a game I'd had in a long time.


Converserly, Aaron S's GURPS build where he rolled every possible psychosis around the concept of "green spotted dog" stands out as a character that is still memorable for it's disruptiveness 17+ years later. I realize the MC shoulda killed that before it hit the table, but the system sure as hell shouldn't encourage that sort of thing.
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TheWorid
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

CraigM wrote:

I agree, and have a whole shelf-full of GURPS source books. I'm more wondering about the rules themselves for GURPS vs. D20. What do you find disagreeable about the rules?


I didn't meant to imply that I find the rules entirely disagreeable. There are a number of major problems, though. Skills are priced by difficulty of gaining them, not usefulness, many of the various rules found in supplements inflate the complexity of the game greatly (although the core rules are actually fairly easy, and you only use rules from relevant books, not all of them at once), and it has the inherent problem of point-buy systems of being easily breakable.

And Frank, just stop. You haven't read the book, and you're using "no one plays it" as your point of evidence. I know you don't like generic systems, and I understand and pretty much agree, but for all its flaws GURPS still has a lots of things going for it if you can stomach a lot of math.
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Archmage
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Honestly, it's hard to analyze the value of GURPS as a system in abstract. You can theoretically use the Core book to play...whatever, but that's not really going to work. You don't have enough material. What you really need is Core + Character Compendium + some setting-specific material. It's a toolkit of rules to create a game and not a game that comes packed in a single box.

So you could play a fantasy game with Core + Compendium + GURPS Magic + GURPS Fantasy Bestiary (or even convert D&D monsters to GURPS if you want to do the work). Or you could pick up GURPS Hi-Tech and maybe GURPS Space and whatever else and that would give you the material for something else. It has no flavor beyond what you assign (the rules are "generic"), though you can derive some from setting worldbooks.

As the GM, you must go through the setting/equipment/character option books before you tell your players what kind of PCs to create and you must make a list of things that are or are not allowed so that people don't come to your GURPS Cyberpunk game with magicians wielding phase disruptor rifles. This isn't quite as much work as it sounds, since you basically just outline a genre and tech level (TL) for gear and make it clear that you don't want anyone playing three-headed lizard people with echolocation and plane shift at will. Keep in mind that things are generic and be willing to reflavor shit like superhero eye lasers as eldritch blasts or whatever.

I've used GURPS for fantasy and found it was...okay, but it's definitely not D&D, nor does it play anything like D&D. It was workable for a mecha game (though I designed my own mech system where they were bought with points instead of using the GURPS Mecha supplement), but high-tech weapons are either instantly lethal (versus unarmored targets) or useless unless you aim for unprotected/lightly-armored parts of your adversaries.

Edit: Oh, and the skill system is inane. I can't disagree with that.
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CraigM
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Archmage wrote:
Edit: Oh, and the skill system is inane. I can't disagree with that.


How so? I'm very interested in what folks find mechanically unsettling about GURPS.

Thanks!
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TheFlatline
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Yeah that's a spot-on assessment of GURPS. It's a toolkit. It even says it's a toolkit.

Probably the most developed "setting" is GURPS Traveller. SJ has/had a serious hard-on for Traveller and released a lot of supplements. So many that in a Mongoose Traveller game I played in I handed off GURPS Traveller to the new guy because 80% of the book is an encyclopedia of Traveller knowledge that gives you a better outline of the system than the core MT book did.
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