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

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More About GURPS

The Basics

GURPS is the "Generic Universal RolePlaying System." It starts with simple rules and builds up to as much optional detail as you like. It's designed to accommodate any background: realistic or larger-than-life; past, present, or future. The possibilities are endless!

The GURPS Basic Set contains the complete core rules for character creation and advancement, task resolution, mental and physical feats, combat, injury, hazards, and NPC reactions. It includes basic magic and psionics systems, and starter lists of personal equipment, creatures, and vehicles. It also offers a plethora of practical advice on designing settings – their laws, governments, technologies, economics, and more – and running campaigns there. And it offers a sample campaign frame, Infinite Worlds, that can accommodate adventures set against a wide variety of backdrops.

In GURPS, characters are built on points. You can create any hero you can imagine by selecting attributes, advantages, disadvantages, skills, and other traits. The GM chooses the power level by specifying the players' point budget, and then GURPS delivers the goods – it supports everything from "ordinary folks" to "gods." You can make character generation even simpler by using GURPS Character Assistant, the official character-creation program.

Almost everything else in the game – from swinging a sword to firing a laser rifle to negotiating a good price from a merchant – boils down to a 3d6 "success roll." While there are lots of rules, they're all variations on the same theme. GURPS is easy to learn!

Where To Start?

You can download a fully functional subset of the core GURPS rules for free right now! GURPS Lite is a printable, 32-page PDF containing all you need to get started. While you're at it, get a glimpse of what the full game has to offer by checking out some of the other freebies available from our online store, e23.

If you like what you see, the next step is the GURPS Basic Set. This is a complete game and you don't need anything else, but there's plenty of support if you want it . . . GURPS is truly a system, and its real power is its ever-growing library of PDFs and printed books. This index contains links to everything released for every edition of the game, but we recommend starting small: pick up a supplement for a favorite genre (such as space or fantasy), ask our vibrant online community to help you choose, or peruse these highlights of the current (fourth) edition . . .


Sourcebooks provide additional options, rules, statistics, and ready-to-use items and creatures for gamers interested in extra detail. Examples include:

  • Guides to character abilities. Pick from the hundreds of spells in Magic, go with the freeform magic of Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, choose holy gifts from Powers: Divine Favor, gain psychic abilities from Psionic Powers, or shop for genetic modifications and implants in Bio-Tech. In a straight-up fight, try combat moves from Gun Fu, Tactical Shooting, and the Martial Arts series. And when old traits lose their luster, see the Power-Ups series for collections of new ones.
  • Technology catalogs. Some of these stick to the realistic, particularly the Low-Tech series with its meticulously researched pre-industrial gear, and the High-Tech series for newer hardware. Others are speculative – Ultra-Tech and the Spaceships series suit futuristic campaigns, while the even wilder Fantasy-Tech 1: The Edge of Reality and Psi-Tech aim to please gamers who can't decide between the supernatural and the technological. If you're in a hurry, the Loadouts series picks out ready-to-use equipment sets. And unlike real-world tech, the GURPS kind comes with everything you need to understand how it works.
  • Collections of creatures. Take a look at the horror monsters of the Creatures of the Night series, the great wyrms of Dragons, the dungeon denizens of Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 1, and the mindless menaces of Zombies.
  • Rules expansions. The most sweeping examples are Powers, which covers designing innate superhuman gifts of every kind, and Thaumatology, which shows how to create entire magic systems. Other supplements tackle more modest needs: City Stats illustrates how to write up cities in detail, Mass Combat handles big battles, and Social Engineering deals with complex social interactions. There's even ultra-specific stuff, such as Underground Adventures for subterranean exploration.
  • Campaign building blocks. When you want to build your own campaign world, prefabricated elements can speed things up. Check out the interesting places of the Locations series, the adventure seeds of supplements such as Alphabet Arcane and MacGuffin Alphabet, and complete adventures like Big Lizzie and Lair of the Fat Man.


Worldbooks describe campaign backgrounds; they supply descriptions, concrete rules, and loads of advice. These can take many forms, too:

  • Genre books. This is where to start when you want to explore the themes and conventions of popular fictional genres in depth, adding appropriate abilities, options, and rules. The titles say it all: Fantasy, Horror, Mysteries, Space, Supers, etc.
  • Quick-start series. Keep things simple by learning what existing traits, gear, and rules are truly necessary to run a game in a specific subgenre . . . and what bits you can safely ignore. Dungeon Fantasy covers classic hack 'n' slash fantasy, Action is for action stories set in the modern world, and Monster Hunters tackles really high-powered modern-day heroes facing off against the supernatural.
  • Original campaign backgrounds. Let us do the work of world-design for you! Our settings provide history, geography, abilities, equipment, and everything else you need to get started in fantasy (whether you prefer the classic dwarves-elves-orcs fare of Banestorm or the magic-and-flintlocks approach of Thaumatology: Alchemical Baroque), sci-fi (from the pulp optimism of Tales of the Solar Patrol, through the realistic futurism of Transhuman Space, to the bleak apocalypse of Reign of Steel), or parallel realities (the Infinite Worlds series).
  • Licensed adaptations. The Discworld Roleplaying Game and the Vorkosigan Saga Sourcebook and Roleplaying Game bring popular fictional works to your gaming table, while Traveller: Interstellar Wars adapts the first-ever space RPG.
  • Historical backdrops. These support campaigns set right here on Earth. Examples include Crusades, SEALs in Vietnam, and the entire Hot Spots series.


There has been an official magazine for GURPS since before the First Edition even existed, and timely ongoing support has been released continuously since 1986. The most recent incarnation is Pyramid, the monthly PDF magazine for roleplayers. Each month is devoted to a new topic, including cyberpunk, weird science, and conspiracies.


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