Steve Jackson Games GURPS – Generic Universal RolePlaying System

William S. Burroughs

Counterculture Figure

105: Riverworld
By: Blackjack [1092]
Date: 03:51 8/12/91

Here is a version of writer William S. Burroughs I used in a recent Riverworld campaign. For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Burroughs, suffice it to say that he has been a major figure in every counter culture movement since the Beats of the early 50's. His writings have influenced artists, poets, rock stars, and He even coined the term "Heavy Metal". My information for this character came from varied sources but mainly the book "Literary Outlaw, the life and times of William S. Burroughs" by Ted Morgan.

NAME:William S. Burroughs


ST/10 DX/11 IQ/16 HT/13


Literacy (-10), Common sense (-10), and Eidetic Memory II (-60)


Appearance: Unattractive (+5), Compulsive attraction to young boys (+5), Intolerance toward women (+5), Odious Personal Manner (+5)

Quirks (5):

Pessimist, Believes in magic, Coinsure of ghost stories, Is familiar with all western literature, Is fascinated with theorys of the after life.


Survival/Hills-16, Firearms-13, Cane(as weapon)-12, Writer-19, Knife-13, Knife Thrown-13, Judo-12, Occultism-16, Scrounging-16


"Le Hombre Invisible"- Over the years Mr.Burroughs has been practicing the art of blending into crowds. This seems to go beyond a normal shadowing or stealth skill and from all reports is actually more of a mental feat, almost psychic.To translate this to game terms I created two new skills: Read Aura and Blend Aura. Read Aura is self explanatory and is the same as his IQ: 16. Blend Aura is the ability to match ones Aura to those in a crowd of people thereby seeming familar to them and not worth noticing. This only works in crowds however and anyone who is familar with the character will recognize him immediately. Burroughs has Blend Aura-13.


In Riverworld Burroughs has the normal advantages of regrowth, Immunity to disease, Rapid Healing, and Unaging. He can also see Ethical Markings at the GM's discretion. Because of his association with Sigmund Freud, a primitive chemistry set, and a Grailslaver's experiment with slave control, Burroughs has the disadvantage of Addiction to Morphine. By the end of the campaign he had gained the skills:Swim-11, Crossbow-11, Armory TL0-17, Amoror TL3-16, Blacksmith TL3 -15, Leatherworking-17, Fishing-16, Sailing-17, Navigation:The River-14, Bard-19, Performance-16, and Esperanto-16.

Also by the end his equipment included: Personal Grail, "Free Grail", Riverdragon moccasins, Riverdragon Longcoat PD1/DR2, Telescope, Hornfish Swordcane: cane 1d/sword 1d-2, a metal knife: cut/thr. 1d-1, Crossbow: 1d-2, Amoror toolkit TL3 and a Leatherworking toolkit TL1.

As the campaign ended he was on Samuel Clemens' riverboat heading upstream and using (or abusing) his mental powers to rewrite plays to be done in the ships lounge. A waste of talent? yes, but now you see why the campaign ended.

How Riverworld deals with homosexuality and minors ("young boys" can be anything from age 5 to 17), but it seems to me he should have either Secret (if he's not open about it) or Social Stigma (if he is).

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