Creating a GURPS Character – Modern, Part 1

Greetings, GURPS-ophiles, both far and wide! Thanks for including Game Geekery in your reading this fine GURPSDay.

Before I even get to today’s post, I want to let you know that the Shane Plays radio show and podcast posted a video this morning. It’s an actual play and GURPS tutorial of the old “All In a Night’s Work” solo adventure updated for 4E, GMed by MIB Tony Dutra with the occasional two cents thrown in by me. This is a companion video to last year’s “How to Create a GURPS Character” video — I’d like to start posting some videos of my own, so check them both out and let us know what you think!

As for today’s Game Geekery post, one of the most common questions from those New to GURPS is “How do I make a character?”, so I thought today I would start to create a character from scratch with some annotations and explanation. As with everything, this is just the way I create a character, but hopefully it will be of some use as an example of character creation in GURPS.

Note that this is a “full,” standard GURPS character. If you’re looking for my “Quick-Start”/”Seven-Minute GURPS Character” material, that’s over here.

It would be nice to cover a variety of genres in future posts, but for today let’s start with a modern-day character. The game is going to center on a group of PCs who are members of a criminal crew — criminals like “scoundrels and rogues living on the fringes,” not “hardcore drug dealers and killers.” After some discussion among the other (hypothetical) players, it’s decided that they will make “Muscle” and “Burglar” types, while I will make a “Face” kind of PC.

The GM is starting the game with 150-point characters, a -25 Disadvantage limit, and no Exotic or Supernatural traits — it’s set in the real world of 2017, so no magic or Area 51 aliens. All page references given are to the “Characters” book.

Thinking about my character, I’m picturing someone clever and quick on his feet, not adverse to defending himself but it isn’t exactly his specialty. He does have a penchant for boosting sports cars, though, if I find I have enough Character Points (CP) to cover it.

Normally, I would use the GCA program to create a character, but for illustration purposes I’m just going to fill in a copy of the Form-Fillable PDF Character Sheet. First, I simply fill in some of the details at the top of the sheet: Name (Frederick Price), Player (Mook), Size Modifier (0, normal human-sized), Age (26), Native Language (English), and Tech Level (TL8, modern day).






Note that I’ve left Height, WeightAppearanceStatus, and Reputation blank for now, as they may be affected by traits not yet chosen.

Using the guide on p. 14, I then choose the following Basic Attributes to represent a character I’m envisioning as pretty clever and agile, but otherwise mostly average:

  • Strength, 11, slightly above average
  • Dexterity 12, above average
  • Intelligence, 13, well above average
  • Health, 10, average.

Total cost is 110 CP, leaving me 40 CP.

Next, I fill in a bunch of Secondary Characteristics (Thrust and Swing damage, Basic Lift, Hit Points, Will, Perception, Fatigue Points, Basic Speed, Basic Move) and Build (Height, Weight, and Size Modifier). All of these are covered on pp. 15-20, and cost 0 CP (since I’m not adjusting anything from their derived defaults).

Finally, I decide to spend 4 CP to make Frederick’s Appearance Attractive, as that will give him a small bonus to Reaction rolls. I now have 36 CP left.






Next step is Disadvantages. Personally, I tend to only take a few, but you can take as many as your game’s Disadvantage point limit allows (-25, in this case). The GM has told us that all PCs will have “Sense of Duty (The Crew)” for -5 CP, without counting against the Disadvantage limit of -25. So, I read through the list of Disadvantages on pp. 299-300 — all of them, though I skip anything Exotic or Supernatural.

The Trait Lists on pp. 297-306 are an awesome way to put together characters, but to get the most out of them you need to be familiar enough with the various traits to have at least a basic idea of what they entail… and the only way to do that is to either read through the descriptions a lot, or make a bajillion characters (both of which I find fun, but may be time consuming).

Disadvantage possibilities that seem worth considering for Frederick are AlcoholismBad TemperCallousDebtEnemiesFlashbacksGreedImpulsivenessLow Pain ThresholdNightmares, and Overconfidence.

Musing over the temporary list, I eventually weed out all the following:

  • Alcoholism, feels a little too intrusive into the PC’s everyday life
  • Bad Temper and Callous, I don’t want him to be a thug, but a charmer
  • Debt and Enemies, I don’t want him “beholden” too much to external forces
  • Flashbacks and Nightmares, too dark for a “light” character
  • Greed, actually fits really well, but can cause a lot of inter-party problems
  • Low Pain Threshold, even though he’s not primarily a combatant, he needs to be able to hold his own

The two that I choose to keep are Impulsiveness (-10) and Overconfidence (-5), both with a self-control number of 12 (a frequent combo for me). Frederick finds it hard to sit still for long, and is supremely confident in his abilities to handle any troubles that arise. I also factor in five Quirks at -1 CP each, though I usually don’t define them until I’ve had a chance to play the character once or twice.

This gives me a total of an extra 25 CP to spend (-5 for Sense of Duty, -10 for Impulsiveness, -5 for Overconfidence, and -5 for five Quirks). My remaining CP are 61.

Now to my second-favorite part of PC creation, Advantages. The process is the same — I read through the list on pp. 297-298 for ones that might fit the character, again skipping anything Exotic or Supernatural — but I want to save 25-30 CP for skills, so I only choose a few possibilities: Ambidexterity, CharismaCombat ReflexesExtra Mouth (kidding! Just making sure you’re paying attention), FitHigh Pain ThresholdLuckPhotographic Memory, and Voice.

Then I weed out the following:

  • Ambidexterity and Fit, would be nice, but not critical
  • High Pain Threshold, hard to justify for a non-combatant, plus 10 CP is a lot
  • Luck, incredibly useful, but too expensive; probably the first purchase I’ll make with earned CP once the game starts
  • Photographic Memory, a useful luxury, but too expensive right now

And spend points on:

  • Charisma 2 (10 CP) and Voice (10 CP), both give reaction bonuses, perfect for a Face
  • Combat Reflexes (15 CP), expensive but almost mandatory for a character with low active defenses like Frederick

Frederick is charismatic, with a commanding voice, and used to violent situations due to a life of crime.








Total cost is 35 CP from my remaining 61, leaving 26 CP for my favorite part of character creation…


Generally what I do at this point is go through the Skills list on pp. 301-304 — you guessed it, all of them! — and make a list of every skill I’d like the character to have (including the “everyman” skills suggested by Kromm on pp. 21-22 of “How to Be a GURPS GM”). Then, if I still have unspent CP, I go back through the list and put extra points into the skills I think are most character defining.

Next week in Part 2, I’ll finish off Frederick with a Skill list, a few Possessions, and any final touches he might need. See you then!


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  1. Haha! You got me confused/panicked for a split second with that Extra Mouth. 😀

    As usual, superb article showing your thought process and closing quite a few gaps on my incipient GURPS knowledge. Much appreciated!

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  1. GURPS Day Summary Mar 17– Mar 23, 2017 – Gaming Ballistic
  2. Creating a GURPS Character – Modern, Part 2 – Game Geekery
  3. GURPS Day Summary Mar 24– Mar 30, 2017 – Gaming Ballistic
  4. Overview of 2017 – Game Geekery

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