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

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2. Steve Jackson Games and GURPS

2.1 What is GURPS?

GURPS stands for Generic Universal Role Playing System. The game system is published by Steve Jackson Games. The core rules, contained in the two-book GURPS Basic Set, were originally written by Steve Jackson, and revised for the Fourth Edition by Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch and David Pulver. The first GURPS Basic Set was released in 1986. The current line editor is Dr. Kromm.

GURPS is a 3d6 skill-based system. It uses a point-based character creation system, and represents characters using four basic stats (Strength, Dexterity, IQ, and Health) along with advantages, disadvantages, perks, quirks and skills. GURPS is designed to allow roleplaying in any genre using the same game mechanics for all of them.

GURPS Basic Set Fourth Edition was published in 2004, and is a major update to the system, based on more than 10 years of experience with Third Edition. There are two core books:

2.2 Which GURPS books are available?

The SJ Games website includes a complete list of all GURPS products and their availability, as well as a list of new and planned future releases.

2.3 What is required to play GURPS?

The only books required to play GURPS are Basic Set: Characters for the Game Master and players, and Basic Set: Campaigns for the Game Master. This is truer than ever with Fourth Edition, as the core set includes not only the old Basic Set and both Compendiums, but also a good chunk of the old Psionics, Supers and Martial Arts books.

2.4 What about all my Third Edition books?

While the new edition is different, it's still GURPS. Many Third Edition books will be good to go for Fourth Edition play with a minimum of conversion – and a conversion guide is available here. Most of the information in the typical worldbook or sourcebook – the thorough historical research, the detailed setting descriptions, the roleplaying advice for both players and referees – is usable with any other game system. That's still true now that the "other game system" we're talking about is GURPS Fourth Edition.

Of course, the very "crunchy" rulebooks, such as the old Basic Set itself, the two Compendium volumes, and GURPS Vehicles, are outdated. There's no way around that; that's the point of a new edition. See this ludography for a more detailed list of Third Edition books that are easy to use with GURPS Fourth Edition – and still available!

2.5 Does Steve Jackson games publish a magazine for GURPS?

The SJ Games magazine, Pyramid, is devoted to roleplaying games, and most articles are either general purpose or related to GURPS. Issues of Pyramid are available from e23 in a downloadable PDF format, either individually or as part of a subscription.

Pyramid used to be a bimonthly paper magazine. The last issue published physically was #30, in May of 1998. After that, it made the transition to an all-Internet publication updated weekly, where it served up articles, reviews, and news for 10 years (and over 500 issues!). During that run, Pyramid was a general-purpose gaming magazine, although the majority of articles that were for a specific game system were for GURPS. Now, the articles are distributed as a monthly PDF via e23.

Information regarding Pyramid (including general information, writers' guidelines, and other links) may be found here.

Roleplayer was the SJ Games GURPS magazine. Issues were published approximately bimonthly and varied in length (most of the later issues were 32 pages). No advertising was included, except for Steve Jackson Games products – mostly GURPS. The last Roleplayer was issue #30.

Roleplayer material is now archived here.

2.6 Can submissions be made to Pyramid electronically?

Yes. You can find the writing guidelines here.

2.7 Where can I get GURPS errata, SJ Games catalogs, and other GURPS information?

GURPS errata may be obtained on the web here. You can download the current catalog here, or request a printed copy from customer service. General GURPS information can be found here.

2.8 Where can I submit errata?

If you think you've spotted an error in a GURPS book, you can submit it directly on the web with this form. Or, you can email the error directly to the errata co-ordinator. (NOTE: This is not the address for rules questions. They should go to the FAQ maintainer.)

2.9 Is there an official GURPS discussion forum?

Yes. The 'official' support site for GURPS is the Steve Jackson Games GURPS forum. This is the best place to get answers from official representatives from Steve Jackson Games, like Dr. Kromm.

2.10 Is there a GURPS electronic mailing list?

Yes, there is a GURPS mailing list. You can receive it on a by-message basis or in digest form. Go to the GURPSnet website to subscribe.

2.11 Are there any newsgroups dedicated to GURPS?

The GURPS newsgroup on the internet is

2.12 Where can I find fan-authored GURPS material?

There are several individual Web pages and FTP sites. A good list of fan sites can be found at the Unofficial GURPS Pages page.

2.13 My new GURPS book is falling apart! I just bought it!

Send your request to Warehouse 23, even if you bought it at another store, and even outside the U.S. Please do not e-mail other members of the SJ Games staff; they just have to forward it on to customer service anyway. You can also call to arrange a replacement: the toll-free number is 866-366 7323, extension 2. In the case of something out of print, we might not be able to replace it, but you should call to see what we can do to make things right.

2.14 Are these answers "official"?

Yes, inasmuch as most of the answers come from Sean Punch, a.k.a. Kromm or Dr. Kromm, the GURPS Line Editor. Still, this FAQ is not an official SJ Games house organ and SJ Games is not bound by anything set down in this FAQ.

Note that many of these answers were given prior to the publishing of certain new supplements, and the associated playtesting and/or revisions.

The current maintainer, Vicky 'Molokh' Kolenko, is not an employee of Steve Jackson Games, but he promises he will do his best.

2.15 What is GURPS Lite?

GURPS Lite is a slimmed-down, 32-page version of GURPS. It is designed primarily to help experienced players introduce new players to GURPS without the combined mass of the Basic Set and assorted worldbooks frightening them away. It is available for both Third and Fourth Edition, as free e23 downloads in PDF format.

You can also get a printed copy of GURPS Lite for freewith the GURPS GM's Screen.

2.16 What does Powered By GURPS mean?

A description can be found here.

2.17 What is e23?

Launched January 20th, 2005, e23 is a project from Steve Jackson Games to publish old, out-of-print material as well as new adventures, mini-sourcebooks, and other books with low market appeal. Many GURPS books and adventures are available there, some even for free.

For further information, go to the e23 webpage.

2.18 Can I use GURPS rules to build a computer game, online game, MOO/MUSH/MUCK/MUD/etc. ?

No . . . it's not legal to take the GURPS rules and base a game on them without formal permission. SJ Games is open to licensing inquiries from professional developers – contact – but, to preserve system integrity and protect the possibility of a professional computer implementation, the company does not grant permission for "homebrew" games or M*s to use the GURPS name and rules.

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