GCA Tutorial - Part One: Getting Started with GURPS Character Assistant
Help Contents | Tutorial Contents

The first thing you’ll see when you start up GCA is a pair of windows: the Logging Window and the Splash Screen.

The Splash Screen welcomes you to the program, and links to some useful websites. It looks like this:

The Logging Window tells you what GCA is doing during loading, and will give you messages from the program from time to time. It looks like this:

You may see messages about program status, or even problems GCA has encountered.

Once GCA has finished loading the default data file for GURPS Fourth Edition, the main GCA window will appear, and a new character will be created automatically. Once GCA begins, a Campaign Settings window will pop up for you to fill in for the new character. The main window with Campaign Settings dialog box will look like this:

After you type in the appropriate values, click OK to begin working on your character. If you make a mistake or need to change one of the settings later, you can make the change with the Campaign Settings dialog box from the View menu, as shown here:

Moving on, let’s look at the main window that you’ll be starting with once you’ve clicked OK in the Campaign Settings dialog. This is the Quick View window, and it looks like this:

We’ve reduced the magnification a bit to make more of it visible – you can do the same by clicking one of the magnification buttons near the top left of the display area. (The 75%, 100%, 150%, and 200% buttons are for changing the zoom factor of the display.)

The Quick View window is a handy way to look at a character sheet. You can drag the page around by grabbing a blank area with your mouse and dragging it, or by using the arrow keys. You can also zoom in or out by double-clicking a blank area with the left or right mouse buttons, respectively.

The character sheet is full of boxes and buttons. The boxes contain fields, most of which you can edit directly. If the text in a box is red, you can click on that box to edit it. The attributes and secondary characteristics are also in red, as is the name of the character. The only box on this page you can’t edit is Reaction Modifiers.

Click on some of the boxes, and enter some values. If you click on an attribute box, you’ll see GCA calculate the point cost for the score you enter. If you enter a score that’s not legal, GCA will adjust it to a score that is allowed.

Now, try clicking on the Advantages button, to open the Advantages dialog screen. That looks like this:

All the advantages available are listed on the left side, and all the advantages you’ve taken already will appear on the right side. Since we just started, there aren’t any advantages to list yet. If you want to look at a smaller listing of traits, you can use the drop-down list at the top to select limited categories of items. This will limit what is displayed in both columns, so remember to set it back to “All categories” to see everything your character has.

In the middle are buttons to let you add traits from the Available column to your character, or remove them from your character and return them to the list of available traits.

Notice the icon that looks like a wrench next to the Affliction advantage. That wrench tells you that GCA will require some sort of input from you before you’ll be able to finish taking that item.

Let’s add Affliction to our character, and see what happens. You can click on Affliction, and then click the Add button to add it to your character, or you can simply double-click on Affliction. When you do, you’ll see a dialog that looks like this:

This is an input box, which you’ll see with a number of advantages and disadvantages in GCA when you need to specify details for your character. In this case, you need to specify the nature of the character’s Affliction. If you click the Cancel button, or click OK without entering anything, the Affliction will not be added to your character.

Enter something for the nature of the Affliction – such as Blindness – into the text area, and click OK. Your character now has the ability to afflict others with blindness!

Now the newly added Affliction is on the list of character advantages, which looks like this:

While you have Affliction selected, look down at the bottom right area of the window, next to the Edit button. See that button that looks like an up arrow above a down arrow? That’s an up/down button. This button lets you adjust the level of the currently selected trait. If you click the up arrow, you can increase the level of the trait, and if you click the down arrow, you can decrease the level. Try clicking a few times; that’s how you’ll change the levels of most traits that you work with in GCA.

You can change the level of any trait with multiple levels by using the up/down buttons. See the green icon next to the Affliction on the Character list? The staircase icon means that Affliction has multiple levels. When you see this icon, you’ll know it has multiple levels. Frequently the number of levels is limited, however; when the level stops responding to the up/down button, that’s usually why.

If you look carefully, you can see some additional information on the disadvantage name that has been cut off. You can resize the window to make more room, but items that have Modifiers (Enhancements or Limitations) will have so much information there’s just not going to be enough room. If you click on the Edit button, however, you can see all the information on a trait in its own dialog box. (You can also double-click on the trait in the Character listing to open it in the Edit window.)

The window you’ll see is the Simple Edit window, which looks like this:

You can now see all pertinent information about the trait in question, and change many of the fields – even the Name. The Name Extension field is what appears in parentheses after the Name of the item in the listings. In this case, the extension is Blindness, which is the nature of our Affliction. Name extensions may cover a lot of different things, including specialties or other special cases.

If you look down the list of fields along the left side of the window, you see that GCA has all the bonuses that might be applied to this trait, any necessary prerequisites (called “needs”), what bonuses the trait may grant to other traits (called “gives”), and even the current Modifiers being applied.

Look at the Current Modifiers section of the window. We can see three different modifiers listed, but if you look at the right side of the display area, you see an active scroll bar. If you click on the scroll bar, you can scroll down and see that there are actually six modifiers, though only three are visible at one time.

All of the modifiers listed have a cost of +0, because Affliction works like a ranged attack. As a result, it has default values you need to know for making that attack, and those are included here for easy reference. They do not affect the cost of the Affliction as a whole.

You can change that, though. Click on the Modifiers button, to the right of the Current Modifiers display area. That will call up the Modifiers window, which looks like this:

This window looks just like the Advantages dialog screen from earlier, and works the same way. On the right are all the Modifiers currently attached to the trait (listed at the top of the window), and on the left are all the ones that are still available. Affliction has a wide variety of possible options, so be careful. Also, GCA does not prohibit you from taking conflicting or redundant modifiers. You could easily spend more points than necessary, or create an unplayable set of modifiers.

When you’re done, click the OK button to return to the Simple Edit window.

On the Simple Edit window there is a button above the Modifiers button called Full Edit Window. Click that to go to the more complex Edit Items window, which looks like this:

This has many of the same fields as the Simple Edit window, but more of them are changeable, including some that could radically change the trait. Only a few fields of reference material cannot be altered.

The “nameext” edit area will let you change the name extension for the item. For example, you could change your Affliction from Blindness to Paralysis. The “cost” field will let you change the cost of your Affliction. For example, if you want Afflictions to cost 20 points per level instead of 10, you could change the cost to 20/40 here, and your new Affliction would instantly be ready to go in your campaign.

Most GMs will not appreciate players changing the point costs of character traits behind their backs . . . but if you’re working with the approval of your Game Master, or trying out some house rules, or you are the Game Master, the ability to tweak the GURPS Fourth Edition character creation rules can come in very handy.

This window also has a Modifiers button, and an up/down button, so you can change the levels or modifiers for any trait from here as well.

Click OK to return to the Simple Edit window. Click OK again to return to the Advantages dialog. You’ve gone quite a way into the depths of GCA already!

Click OK in the Advantages dialog, and return to the Quick View.

Notice that the Advantage we added is now displayed here, in blue text, as shown below:

In the Quick View window, the Affliction trait text wraps across more than one line, so you can see all of its modifiers. The blue text means we can get an edit bar for that trait if we click on it.

Let’s click on the Affliction advantage text, and see the edit bar. It looks like this:

There is an up/down button here too, to change leveled traits. If you click the up or down buttons, the level and point cost will change.

The red X button allows you to delete the trait. Go ahead and click that now (don’t worry, GCA will ask if you mean it). GCA will pop up a dialog box asking for confirmation. Click No, and don’t delete it. On the right side of the bar is an edit button. That button will take you back to the Simple Edit window.

Clicking on a blank portion of the page will delete the edit bar; changes made to the trait will be saved.

Now you’ve covered the basics of using the Quick View window to manage your character. Try the other buttons in the Quick View window, and you’ll see the idea behind the dialog screens that pop up are the same, whether you’re working on advantages, quirks, skills, or anything else.

And be sure to try the buttons next to the Zoom buttons, to switch pages in the Quick View. All of the Spells and Equipment are available through buttons on page 2.

This document last updated May 23, 2005. Copyright © 2005 by Steve Jackson Games Incorporated. All rights reserved.
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