GURPS – Generic Universal RolePlaying System GURPS – Generic Universal RolePlaying System

GURPS Character Assistant Update FAQ – Cover

GURPS Character Assistant Update FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where can I get updates for GCA?


Q: Will updates for future books be free?

A: Absolutely. We already have a complete data file for GURPS Magic available, and incomplete files for GURPS Fantasy and GURPS Infinite Worlds. We plan to complete the files and make files for future books as time permits. They will be posted to the update page (see above) when they are ready.

Q: How come GCA doesn't have a trait or template creation wizard, or some other feature I think should have come with the program?

A: GCA was shipped as a fully functional character creation program, and it is that. There are plans to add trait and template creation wizards into the programs in future updates, but it was deemed more important to release the official GURPS character creation program than to include every feature we'd all like to see added.

Q: I just downloaded the update and all the spells from GURPS Magic (or all the templates from GURPS Fantasy, or . . . ) were not included.

A: First, check the update page again and make sure you downloaded and installed both the GCA 4 Patcher and the GCA 4 Data Update. Without the data update the new files for new books will not be installed.

Next you need to make a new Data Set which loads the new book information. To make a new Data Set, open GCA, use the menu to go to Tools -> Options -> Data Sets (tab) -> Browse (button). From the window that pops up you can create a data set with the new files included. Click OK, then Load Now to load the new files.

It is worth noting that Data Files within Data Sets are loaded in order, from top to bottom, replacing or adding to information from Data Files loaded earlier in the set. This means that you will almost always want to load the Basic Set file first, followed by any official book files you wish to use, followed by any official variant files you wish to use, followed by any unofficial or personal files.

Q: I see that some alternate character sheets are available. How can I use them with my characters?

A: First download and save the alternate character sheets to your GCA folder (default: C:\Program Files\GURPS Character Assistant 4). When downloading from a webpage make sure to Right Click on the link and select Save Link As . . . If you open the file in your browser and then attempt to save it the formatting may be damaged and GCA may not be able to properly read the file.

Next, within GCA you can either do a Print/Print Preview Using . . . command, which will allow you to select an alternate character sheet for the current print/print preview, or you can go to Tools -> Options -> Default Character Options and select a different default character sheet which will be used every time you do a Print/Print Preview.

Q: I did not know that alternate character sheets are available. Where can I get them?

A: Armin has posted several on his business website. These will also be made available with the official updates when they are posted: at

Thomas Edwards has also made several unofficial character sheet files, which you can obtain from His Phoenix sheet ( is especially popular.

Q: How come after I've e-mailed a data file, character file or character sheet file to someone it either won't load in GCA or is giving me errors when I attempt to load it?

A: GCA uses a plain text format for all of its saved files. This is to improve the usability of these files for the average person and make them editable with just about any text editing program. Unfortunately, because they are plain text many e-mail programs will mangle the files when you attempt to send them (autowrapping lines, removing spaces, etc). It is usually best to use a program like WinZip or WinRar to compress the files before you send them through e-mail.

Q: So you say the files GCA uses are plain text. What does it take to edit the files? What issues should I be aware of?

A: Any text editing program can open, edit, and save the files. Windows comes with Notepad and WordPad, which can be useful for most purposes. Be wary of using word processing suites, such as Microsoft Word, to edit these files. Word processors often have auto-formatting, auto-correction, and other features built into them that will insert non-standard characters or correct punctuation formatting that will be incompatible with GCA. If, for some reason, you do use a word processor make sure to turn off these auto- features.

Editing GCA Data Files (.gdf) will be discussed in further detail below; normally you will not want or need to edit GCA Character files (.gca4). GCA Character Sheet files (.gcs) are written in VBScript, so if you know how to program with VBScript you will be able to modify and write these. If not, you would need to learn (I'm told that VBScript is an extremely easy programming language to learn).

If you wish to modify the official files it is best to do so by saving them under a different name. The official files are prime candidates to be overwritten by future updates.

When saving a new file for the first time (or an existing file under a new name) you should always use the Save As command so you can specify the file extension – .gdf for Data Files or .gcs for Character Sheets. That is, you would specify the name to be something like My File.gdf

You also want to make sure to always save in plain text format (Text Document within WordPad). If you save in Word, Rich Text, or any other format besides plain text, GCA will not be able to read the file and will give you errors if you try.

Q: I've read the previous section. I think I'm ready to make my own data file. How do I start?

A: All data files have a basic structure to them. The best way to get a grip on the layout of data files is to open up one of the official files and look it over.

The first two lines *MUST* be:


*The version information above MUST be the first line of the data file

Following that the data files are divided into sections. Each section starts with the section header in brackets:




etc . . .

Most sections will be divided into sub-sections (such as skill categories or spell colleges). Each sub-section starts with the sub-section header in angle brackets:

<Mundane Mental>

<Combat Techniques>


etc . . .

Each individual item is formatted with a name followed by a cost (for advantages, disads, modifiers) or type (skills, spells) followed by one of many tags. Tags are specific information contained within parenthesis. Each of these must be separated by a comma. Example:

Absolute Timing, 2, page(B35), cat(Mundane, Mental)

Absolute Timing is the name of this advantage. It costs 2 points. The page number is held within the page() tag. The cat() tag is used to specify which categories this advantage will fall into. It might be found in a data file like this:


<Mundane Mental>

Absolute Timing, 2, page(B35), cat(Mundane, Mental)

It is often easier to format items within GCA so they take up multiple lines; this makes it much easier for the human eye to read and for you to pick out errors in a particular item. GCA uses two characters as a line wrapper, a regular comma or an underscore. A comma is used to line wrap after a closed tag(), an underscore is used as a line continuation of a single tag.

Q: Can I distribute the data files I create for GCA?

A: Yes. Fans are welcome to create GCA data files and to host online collections of data files, provided the provisions of our Online Policy are followed. We ask that no one post a template unless they are willing to have it hosted in others' collections, and we ask that those who host collections have the courtesy to credit the original creators. We will occasionally link to good collections, to help provide community support.

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