PCs Old and New – The Biker Crew

Happy GURPSday, all! Today I dive, shockingly, into the elegant simplicity of our favorite RPG.

A couple of weekends ago, I found myself having to whip up a quick one-shot for some friends with very little time to prepare. It seemed the easiest thing to do would be to pick a convention game I had already GMed and just use that, but there was a little snag — the three of them wanted to play the “Hell on Wheels” adventure, but the PCs I made for that game weren’t intended for complete GURPS newbies. So, I grabbed three of the original characters, adapted them to a much, much simpler character sheet, and off we went!

Now that the game is done, it occurred to me that others might find it useful to compare two versions of the same PCs, one I use for newcomers, the other for the more experienced.

PCs Old and New | Downloads: 472 | Size: 413.1 KB

Broadly, the ‘new’ PCs are just streamlined versions of the original ones — much easier to read and find info, but at the cost of losing some finer detail. Specifically…

    • All point costs were removed. They’re only needed during creation and ongoing games, and this was neither
    • Attributes are described in plain words as well as numeric values
    • Parry, Block, and Dodge have been averaged out to a single Defend score
    • Minor: Removed the DR 1 the original PCs had from wearing leather
    • The only listed attack stats are “Damage” (How much injury do I inflict?) and “Roll” (What do I need to roll to hit?)
    • Advantages and Disadvantages have been cut down and are listed together, in plain words only
    • The number of skills went way down, focusing mostly on things each character is particularly renowned for. Some skills were combined or annotated to save space (for example, “Guns (Pistol)-16, Guns (Rifle)-14, Guns (Shotgun)-14, Guns (SMG)-14” became “Pistol 16 (other guns at 14)”)

The effect on gameplay of all this streamlining and simplification was pretty much what I expected — that is, hardly any effect at all. In fact, the most noticeable difference was how much faster the game ran and how less abrupt the shift between “combat time” and “regular time” was. I feel like there’s nothing on the more detailed, original character sheets that couldn’t simply be extrapolated from what’s on the simpler sheets.

Ultimately, though, my point isn’t that either of these versions or play styles is better than the other. It’s that one of the reasons I love GURPS and have devoted so much of my gaming life to it is because it can easily handle both versions and everything in between!


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1 Comment

  1. Thank you Mook.

    I love exploring ways to simplify the game. GURPS is very interesting with all its detail, but when it comes time to play/GM, its hard to focus on the essentials. The detail can tend to fractal where one item keeps branching.

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