September 23, 2014: GURPS Fourth Turns 10 With . . . Matt Riggsby
I've often contended that GURPS Fourth Edition is giving us the finest GURPS material ever, and not just because I'm getting royalties. GURPS has long been my go-to system for ease and flexibility, but Fourth Edition is notable for an editorial direction which looks past the specific needs of any rule and into general cases.
That can make GURPS hard to write for, if you're someone who likes hacking rules. Half of the time when I consider making a new rule, I find it has already been written (usually in GURPS Action 2). For example, I didn't have to come up with architecture rules for GURPS Locations: The Tower of Octavius because the Basic Set already had guidelines for wall DR and HP (though I certainly did come up with builder-centric architecture rules for GURPS Low-Tech Companion 3: Daily Life and Economics).
But extra care in development makes GURPS easy to use. The genius of GURPS City Stats was to present cities as a bundle of traits relevant to visitors and antagonists, meshing with existing rules like GURPS Mass Combat. This made it simple to incorporate stats into GURPS Hot Spots: Constantinople, 527-1204 A.D. in a few convenient boxes.
And somehow the cautious approach makes it possible to accommodate the grimly realistic and the gleefully over-the-top. GURPS Fourth Edition is a game which can feature both elaborate rules for preindustrial farming (in Low-Tech Companion 3, made more detailed in "At Play In The Fields" in Pyramid #3/33, and more detailed still in "Lord of the Manor" in Pyramid #3/52) and the Swiss Army polearms and mystical gazebos of GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 8: Treasure Tables. Fourth Edition's far-sighted approach keeps it my Swiss Army polearm of choice.
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