Roleplayer #2, June 1986

Combat Rules in the Basic Set

by Steve Jackson

The original plan for the GURPS boxed release was to make it the complete RPG. It would include all the rules necessary for roleplaying – slanted heavily toward fantasy – plus enough "universal" material to let people start work on other types of worlds, if they were impatient.

But the feedback questionnaires from Man to Man showed that a lot of MTM buyers didn't like that idea. They wanted a "basic set" without anything from MTM – so they wouldn't have to "buy the same rules twice." Some writers were very polite about pointing this out. Some weren't so polite.

Anyway, this gave me most furiously to think. And after a lot of thinking, and consultation with the rest of the staff and with the local gamers, I came up with the following points:

In Favor of Omitting "Old" Material Entirely

(1) It will satisfy the people who are complaining now, and anybody who bothers to write us a letter is somebody we want to please.
(2) It will reduce the amount of work I have to do for the Basic Set.
(3) It will make the Basic Set cheaper.

In Favor of Repeating Only A Few Basic Rules

(1) It would satisfy the people who are complaining now.
(2) It would make it possible – maybe – to play the game without MTM.

The problem with this is that it might please nobody. And once you start including combat, where do you stop?

In Favor of Leaving Everything In

(1) It would make the set essentially complete in one box. If we left a lot out, new buyers would have to get MTM before they could play, and that would cause problems and bad feelings.
(2) It would allow a coherent index and table of contents that covered the whole game.
(3) It would allow the material to be reorganized for easy reading – combat skills with other skills, combat advantages with other advantages, no repetition in character creation, etc.

In Favor of Doing Two Editions – One Each Way

(1) It would give something for everybody.

Now, thinking it through:

If the "old" material is omitted entirely, the Basic Set will be crippled and disorganized, compared to what it should be. It might be possible to include some of the MTM material – but where would I draw the line? Character creation? Injuries and fatigue? Basic combat? At least half of the material in MTM is absolutely vital to a roleplaying system!

Several writers have suggested we release two different editions. Unfortunately, this combines the biggest problem of omitting combat entirely (disorganization of the final product) with the logistical nightmare of producing two separate packages. That one's right out.

So we come back to the original plan: The Basic Set will include complete character creation and combat rules – actually more of this material than MTM includes. Some parts will be completely rewritten and reorganized; others will seem almost identical. My biggest priority right now is to make the Basic Set the best, completest, most gameable package possible – and I really still think that's the way to do it.

But I do understand the position of the people who didn't want a repeat of the combat rules – especially if they are on a limited budget. So what we're going to do is this:

(1) The maps and scenarios included in the Basic Set will be different from those in MTM. Some of the Cardboard Heroes figures, if not all of them, will also be different.
(2) We will take $5 off the Basic Set price for any MTM owner. You can get this three ways:

First – you can order the Basic Set from SJ Games for $22.50 instead of the regular mail-order price of $27.50. You must cut out the stock number (1204) from the back cover of Man to Man and send it in with your order. This price covers postage and handling.

Second – we'll give you the same deal at our table at any convention, except that your cutout stock number gets you $5 off the suggested retail of $24.95, so you get the game for $19.95.

Third – if you buy the Basic Set somewhere else, send us the cut-out stock number from your MTM, and the completed questionnaire from your Basic Set, and we'll send you a $5 certificate. You can use this certificate on any direct mail order, or at a convention; it is good on any GURPS product order of $10 or more.

All these offers will expire Dec. 31, 1986.

I think this solution gives the best possible Basic Set, and is still more than fair to everyone who bought MTM. It means that MTM cost you $4.95. Seems to me that $4.95 was a bargain for maps, scenarios, figures, and a whole year's advance look at GURPS. I hope you feel that way too!

(Back to Roleplayer #2 Table of Contents)

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