If you are new to GURPS 4th Edition — a GM wanting to run it, a player joining a game of it, anyone curious about the system — this page is written specifically for you, to help you find the most useful posts here at Game Geekery and to get you up and running as quickly as possible.
I have posted a lot of material here aimed directly at GURPS newcomers, specifically, and at streamlining many of the sheets and rules as much as possible, generally. But things are a bit spread out and might be daunting for newcomers to find, defeating the purpose. With the Dungeon Fantasy RPG being released soon, there has been a lot of discussion about ways to welcome new players to the wonderfully wild world of GURPS and get them up and running with a game as quickly as possible. This guide, GURPS: Grab and GO, is my contribution to that effort — a landing page for anyone looking to learn more about GURPS that puts some of my best goodies all in one place.
The first thing you will need if you want to play GURPS is, of course, the rules. The 4th Edition Basic Set includes two volumes: Characters, with everything you need to create and play a character, and Campaigns, with everything you need to create and GM adventures. These are available both in print (direct from Steve Jackson Games, your local gaming store, Amazon, etc.) and in PDF.
If you’re looking for a free introduction instead, GURPS Lite is a solid peek at the basics. Naturally, a 32 page PDF can’t possibly replace the 550-ish pages of the full Basic Set, but it does show off the core rules and how they interact. Most of the materials I link below from Game Geekery should still make sense whether you’re using Lite or the Basic Set.
GURPS is absolutely not some mysterious, impossible to navigate tome of arcane rules. It is entirely possible to learn the game yourself simply by reading the books — I did it, so have thousands of others, so have gamers since the Before Times when our tribe was small and still emerging. If you would like a little help, though, I recommend:
If you want to play GURPS, really all you need to do is find a group, face-to-face or online, and hop on in. Most of the links and sheets that follow are for GMS who want to run GURPS, or players who prefer to know as much as they can about the rules before they start a new system.
For the GM, a good screen can be a huge help. The official GURPS screen is very good, as are some of the fan-made ones online, but for Grab and Go I wanted something that crammed in as much info as humanly possible while remaining easy to read at a decent font size (my days of 8-point or even 10-point fonts being comfortable to read are past). If you’re not yet familiar with the rules, a lot of it won’t make sense… but if you are, it should be possible to GM an entire game night or two without having to stop and look up a single thing at the table. It is four pages of densely-packed GURPS-y goodness.
If you’re already feeling solid with the unmodified rules, this series explores a variety of ways to streamline things (particularly combat) during play.
Armed with the rules and a handy screen, the group is going to need some PCs. I’ll mention once more that there is no reason everyone can’t just sit down together and design some full-on GURPS characters with the rules. But this post is all about Grab and Go, getting started quickly, so let’s look at a couple of alternatives.
If the GM feels comfortable enough with the rules, each player can simply fill in the questions on the above PDF and the GM can use that information to create the PCs on the players’ behalf. I’ve heard from many groups that do this for their first game so they can just get started, then afterwards the players make their own as usual.
There is also a series I call “Quick-Start Character Creation.”
As you might expect from the title, this system outlines a way of basically “whipping up” GURPS characters in just a few minutes. They will not have the full depth of a PC you spent an hour or more creating, naturally, but they will be completely GURPS “legal” and use no special rules. After that first game, when you have more time, you can use the normal character creation rules to expand them… or, if they’re sufficient for the game you’re playing and everyone’s enjoying themselves, just keep on playing!
Here are the Character Sheets (they include the character creation rules on the sheet).
And here are a number of example, ready-to-use characters.
New GURPS players may find it helpful to have copies of:
All that’s left now is to get out there and actually play!
If you’re looking for pre-made adventures instead of creating your own, I have a few resources for you.
These two are Quick-Play Adventures. They come with GM notes, pre-generated PCs, an area to explore, and suggestions for stories to present to the PCs.
These are one-shots that I GMed at local conventions. They may not be quite as “user friendly” as the two above, since they were written primarily for myself, but most contain more than enough notes, pre-gen characters, maps, bad guys, etc. to make a complete adventure. The links below go to the posts discussing the games, so you can get some context and background info — you’ll find links to download the actual materials there. See the Adventure Creation series for even more!
If you’ve made it this far, you should have some GURPS rules, a shiny GM screen, a bunch of ready-to-go PCs, and a few different adventures to unleash on them. Grab and Go! Get some players together, set a date and time, and chuck some dice. You may just find that GURPS is the system you’ve been looking for.
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