I’ve already commented on my hang-ups regarding GURPS. I do actually like the system, though. I like its ability to jump-start to almost any campaign setting or existing game imaginable. It’s always had flaws. No system is perfect, but GURPS comes about as close for a detail-oriented gamer as it gets.

The first time I ever played GURPS, I played as a villain in my friend’s Supers campaign. Chick, the GM, thought a pre-made villain would be a way to introduce a stubborn bastard like myself into a game for which I had hitherto refused to make a character. Through the steely eyes of a 20’s era hitman gangster turned-metal-man, I was allowed to take a series of shots at my friends who were playing a variety of classic supers.

There was perhaps no better way to introduce me to the system. In fact, I liked it so much I made my first Super, a skill monger named Backfire. Of course, he was an assassin-type turned good guy, because let’s face it there are few better ways to blow off steam than killing things in a game. 🙂

Our first group of Supers were all killers come to think of it. We typified the bash it with a stick mentality. Much to the frustration of our GM, we would barrel through most of his problems with brute force and then eliminate his well-crafted villains with extreme prejudice. Given a long-term campaign, which it was, we eventually had some near world-destroying entities coming to call every week as it seemed that was about all that could take us. This led to the eventual creation of a second generation of Supers, many geared towards less damaging powers and abilities.

Just yesterday I was recollecting to someone quite dear to me a perfect example of this. I created a small stable of heroes for this bold experiment, but first out of the gate was Dr. Otto, a super-intelligent gorilla. His sole method of fighting was, well, “gorilla-style” for lack of a better term. He was a scientist and a bit of an egg head, you see, and he didn’t like or know much how to fight, so when forced he fought like a gorilla…because he was one. I recall his first “field” mission was with an electronics/gizmo gearhead type and they were both confronted with a locked door to a suburban house. We in character spent several minutes debating on how best to enter the house (Disabling potential alarms, looking for key rocks, etc.) before actually gaining entry. Chick had this look of bemused fascination on his face as he watched us do this where our old characters would’ve just busted in the door.

Again I will always think on that as one of my favorite settings. GURPS Fantasy comes in pretty much in a tie, though. Chick again was our GM and he used the standard “Yrth” setting provided in the Fantasy and eventually Banestorm books put out by SJG.

We started out as a simple enough group. We consisted of a Reptile former gladiator (me), a swashbuckling swordsman, a ranger and a battlemage. For flavor we acquired a goblin thief to handle those duties. As an aside and oddly from my point of view, I’ve never known someone who liked to play a thief. We’ve never had a PC thief in any group of which I’ve been apart.

Our merry little band advanced from being simple mercenaries for hire to fighting in a war of survival for Caithness, one of the larger, but newer nations and then “dieing” only to be brought back to finish the war we’d started some years previous. From there we parlayed our war fortune into a piracy outfit centered around the Brig Hellshark, at least I think she was a brig. The same problem occurred as before. As our adventuring increased (it was a multi-year campaign in real time), our power increased and as our power increased our opponents became more and more ridiculous in power themselves.

The campaign lost much of its interest as our GM was unable to keep providing challenging scenarios, and like the Supers campaign ultimately folded with a whimper instead of a bang.

Both the Supers and Fantasy settings, very different in most aspects, sold me on a system I had boycotted for years. I began to truly appreciate just how flexible GURPS really was and applied elements of it to several games afterward that I myself ran. Most notable among those was my Traveller campaigns. I kept modifying the Traveller campaigns I ran, never content with the rules systems that were available. CT and MegaTrav’s settings had great character-building “Career path” systems, but everything else was very clunky. For combat, nothing matched GURPS’ level of detail and my players loved detail when it came to killing. So did I, I must confess. Not many games were out that would let you target an eye, finger or jugular with equal simplicity. I don’t know that that has changed. I began adding the GURPS elements to provide that level of detail and to keep my players happy; the ultimate goal of any GM.

For a system I had so stubbornly avoided, it was playing in it that ultimately broke through my curmudgeonly shell and let me finally realize its true potential. It reminded me that with much in the way of RPG’s, we really should give new ones a chance before writing them off altogether. Is that realistic? Our biases and personal idiosyncrasies tell me that in practice it is not, but small examples like this prove that it works.

If anyone has similar stories or favorite campaigns that come out of one GURPS book or another, and the beauty of that system is many excellent world and subject books exist, I’d like to hear about it. Write in the comments section if you feel so inclined to share.