Roleplayer
Roleplayer #12, December 1988

GURPS 3rd Edition – Bigger and Better

by Steve Jackson

At last, GURPS Basic Set (Third Edition) is on the shelves. It represents a complete reworking and re-editing of the system; we took into account the comments on the thousands of feedback questionnaires we've received since the game's first release, and did our best to make everyone happy. (And if you're one of the people who returned a questionnaire, we thank you very much, and we hope you got what you wanted in the new edition.)

The most obvious difference is in the physical format. No box! Instead, it's a single 256-page perfect-bound book, shrink-wrapped along with a 16-page booklet that the user takes apart to get the maps, Instant Characters sheet, etc. The striking new cover is by Michael Presley.

But the price is lower! This savings comes mainly from dropping the box; boxes are expensive. That let us reduce the price to $19.95. This is not wholly altruistic, of course. We expect this bigger, less-expensive edition to make the GURPS system even more popular.

New Sections

This edition includes everything from the second edition, and a great deal more. Our feedback indicated that buyers wanted to see a wider variety of material in order to make the set truly "generic." Your wish is our command . . .

First and foremost, the "medieval" bias of the earlier editions has been erased. This edition adds much more material on modern and futuristic weapons and skills.

The other really significant omission from earlier editions was, of course, magic. The original GURPS plan called for magic to be in the Basic Set, but we couldn't get it into the first two editions. The Third Edition gives complete magic rules, and a list of over 100 spells. That is not the whole spell list from GURPS Fantasy, but it's a carefully chosen subset – enough to get any fantasy campaign off the ground. (The original GURPS Fantasy worldbook is now out of print, but an expanded and updated GURPS Magic will be at the printer by the time you read this.)

Another Third Edition addition is psionics. Those who have GURPS Horror have seen the psi rules. Portions are also in GURPS Humanx and Horseclans. We decided that anything that had to be reprinted that often was basic information – so it's now in the Basic Set.

Other new chapters include Mounted and Vehicle Combat and Flight. Not a complete chapter, but important, were the Fright Check rules from GURPS Horror – here, again, we thought it was "generic" enough to include in the Basic Set. We've also drastically reorganized and upgraded the sections on game-mastering and on writing your own adventures.

And, of course, there are several new advantages and disadvantages. Some you've seen in worldbooks or Roleplayer – others are brand new.

Rule Changes

There are lots of small changes and clarifications here and there. The only really major change is in the ranged-combat system. This was completely revised for a more flexible and realistic representation of all kinds of weapons, right up to TL12 beam guns. On p.5 of this Roleplayer, we give the weapons from GURPS Horror in the new game terms.

We also added the concept of the "Will roll." This is a new term, but not really a new rule; we just introduced the term Will roll so we could quit saying "Roll IQ, plus or minus Strong or Weak Will . . ."

GURPS Update

We are planning a special release in January, for those of you who have the first or second edition and don't intend to purchase the new one. Of course, we hope that everyone will want their very own copy of the Third Edition . . . but we're not going to make you buy it. Instead, we're collecting the significant changes and additions in a separate book. The GURPS Update should be 64 pages and retail at $4.95.

GURPS Players' Book

Also in January, we'll release the Players' Book. This is essentially a reprint of the character-creation information, plus the necessary weapon and equipment tables, from the Basic Set. It is specifically intended for use when characters are created, and for player reference during the game. If you're a GM, you may want to keep a copy for new players to refer to; if you're a player, this will let you get the rules you really need without buying the whole Basic Set. It will retail for $9.95.

(Back to Roleplayer #12 Table of Contents)


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