New to GURPS – Welcome!

Welcome to the first post of my “New to GURPS” series. GURPS is a fantastically broad and simple tabletop RPG, one that can be used for all sorts of games while always maintaining the same elegant core. Spartan warriors, powerful wizards, anthropomorphic squirrels, high-flying superheroes, CIA agents, giant robot pilots, starship captains, alien hunters, and whatever else you want to play… GURPS can do it!

It can, if you want, be the last RPG you ever have to learn.

I assume you have found this page either because you have joined a GURPS game but have never played it before, or because you have heard of it and want to see what the fuss is about. My goal here is to provide a simple and easy-to-follow trail to learning about the system without assuming any prior knowledge on your part.* I want you to enjoy the game as much as I have for so many years, and understand that it isn’t any more complex than you want it to be or too hard to learn — it’s just fun.

This is not, by any means, the one true way of approaching GURPS. Everyone has their own experiences, their own way of looking at things and learning. I’m simply sharing one way of many, a way that makes sense to me and hopefully resonates with at least some of those who are GURPS-curious.

The only thing you need to start is a free copy of GURPS Lite (just click “Add To Crate,” then “Check Out,” to download the PDF. You will be prompted for an email address). This is an introduction to the system provided by Steve Jackson Games, at absolutely no cost, that distills the basic system into an even more basic 32 pages. Everything in GURPS Lite is 100% compatible with the GURPS Basic Set, so it is the perfect introduction and learning tool. Either read it through now, or just skim and keep it handy.


Once you have a copy of GURPS Lite… jump on in!

The basic posts have been completed! In the coming weeks, we’ll move beyond GURPS Lite to the actual core books, Characters and Campaigns, and expand even further on the above, adding in more optional rules, modifiers, special cases, etc.:

  • 17 – Advanced Character: Creating a full-sheet character using the bulk of optional rules.
  • 18 – Advanced Spells
  • 19 – Advanced Skills/Skill Contests
  • 20 – Advanced Melee Combat
  • 21 – Advanced Ranged Combat
  • 22 – Advanced Scene

* These posts are primarily aimed at players new to the game. If you are a GM new to GURPS, I already wrote a book just for you called, “How to Be a GURPS GM“!

If you enjoyed this post and others like it, might you consider supporting the Game Geekery Patreon?


GURPS is a registered trademark of Steve Jackson Games. All rights are reserved by SJ Games. This material is used here in accordance with the SJ Games online policy.


  1. Believe it or not, I’ve said that your text should be included in an updated GURPS Lite. And now you’re doing it for free. 🙂

  2. I just found your combat examples, and you are my hero for the day! Thank you.

    I’m a long-time RPG’er with other systems, but I’m tired of the imbalance that d20 gives, and have been interested to try out Gurps. Although the mechanics seem simple when reading, I wasn’t quite sure how it all works in practice without having examples like this (or creating characters and playtesting – but then there is still doubt as to whether I missed anything).

    Anyway – this is exactly what I needed. Thank you.

    • Awesome, kirel, I hope you end up enjoying GURPS 🙂 You are exactly the audience in mind for most of what I post, I hope you find a lot of helpful info here!

  3. Allo allo, Mook.

    Are you working on the “Advanced” character example? I am curious to see what you can cook up with that grey stew of yours 8-).

    • Hiya, Ezram! The “Advanced” section of the series is still alive, but waaay on the back burner. I feel like the audience for basic intro and casual GURPS material benefits more than that for the really complicated stuff, particularly since those folks are already well-versed in the complicated stuff.

      I do have a couple of examples that I tinker with from time to time, with really obscure things like hand grips and the like, so it’s always possible!

  4. Hi,
    I’ve recently come across your “New to GURPS” series and love it. So, thanks!

    Am I correct to assume, at this point, I shouldn’t hold my breath for the advanced posts?

    • Hi Toby, thanks! Glad they helped.

      I do hate to say “never,” but… the problem I ran into is, I can do the very basic, and I can do the sort of ‘default’ middle ground, but in my own games I don’t actually use a lot of “advanced” stuff so it feels like other GURPS blogs could probably do it better (and very well may already have).

      Curious, were there any specific topics you hoped something like that would cover?

  5. Hi Mook.

    Just finished this ‘course’ if you will and it’s very handy as a newcomer to GURPS. From reading your replies it seems the Advanced Section would not really be necessary for 90% of GURPS players. Is this the case? And if no, what sort of material should I read up on to cover the advanced stuff myself? Is the Basic Set enough or is it mostly expansions that get ‘advanced’?

  6. Sorry, Butthole Stephens! I really thought I had replied to this, but I’ve been away from a computer for a couple of weeks.

    I eventually put the Advanced section way on the back-burner because in my own games I very much use the Basic through Intermediate rules/style. I do *occasionally* run games with even more complexity, but I felt like there are a lot of GMs who routinely run their games that way and probably have better practical advice vs. my theoretical.

    I consider Advanced GURPS things like Movement Points and Facing (pp. 386-387), Opportunity Fire/Pop-Up Attacks (p. 390), Changing Posture in Armor (p. 395), Bleeding and Accumulated Wounds (p. 420), etc. Outside of Basic Set, things from Martial Arts like Grip Changes (pp. 111-112), Committed and Defensive Attacks (pp. 99-100) and more, plus probably anything in Tactical Shooting.

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