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Hey Folks,

 

Just was reading through a bit of the GURPS Fourth Edition. I'm not familiar with it at all. In the first few parts, it appears to be an exact copy of HERO. I was hoping someone with more familiarity could describe exactly how its different mechanically, and philosophically, from HERO, so I don't have to read through its larger-even-than-HERO rulebooks.

 

Thanks!

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GURPS was influenced by Champions, and both are point-based for character creation. GURPS leans more toward skills-based role-playing, while Champions/HERO was (originally) set up more towards powers. 4e GURPS was designed to fix certain issues with higher power levels, especially with the Supers genre, where the 3e implementation had major issues. Basic combat in GURPS can be extremely lethal, especially with games that use High Tech weapons.

 

 

My personal experience with GURPS 4e is extremely limited, as I really wasn't interested in buying a bunch of core books again for a game that I rarely play. My 3e GURPS materials are used more as sourcebooks for other games, and the general settings and information can be translated to other systems (like HERO) with just a little bit of work. GURPS 3e sourcebooks provided a fix for new gaming materials back in the dark days before DOJ bought Hero Games, and their implementation of Traveller was easily usable with CT rules. 

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I don't know if GURPS 4e retains this feature, but 3e had damage in game terms scale linearly with energy in real-world terms. Perfectly reasonable from a pure math and simulationist perspective . . . but it leads to two problems. The first is that die codes get so big that you can't physically roll for them; I seem to recall that a nuclear bomb did something like three million d6 of damage. The second, and actually worse, of the problems is how damage, scaled in such a fashion, interacts with defense values. Outside of a swords-to-small-arms kind of range, it's easy to wind up with a very narrow window between "attacks bounce off harmlessly" and "closed-casket funeral". In fact, with a sci-fi setting, you could get that effect from one shot to the next with the same weapon and target. As defense numbers and damage die codes go up, human hit points become a proportionally smaller piece of the total, and variation between rolls of the dice can easily take you from "under your defense value" to "exceeds your defense value by more than twice your hitpoints".

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Both systems are points-based, but ability costs follow very different design philosophies in the two systems.

 

Abilities in the Hero System are largely priced according to how useful they are in combat, which is a reasonable basis when you're talking about superhero roleplaying where the big fight with the villains is its raison d'etre. Skills are rarely invoked during combat, and so they all tend to have a relatively uniform, low cost structure.

 

Abilities in GURPS, on the other hand, are priced according to how hard they would be to acquire the real world. That's why skills in GURPS are priced according to their "difficulty rating" (i.e., difficulty to learn in the real world). The implication being that because something is hard to learn (e.g., neurosurgery), it should cost your character more even if it wouldn't enter play frequently or be terribly useful in the game.

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GURPS was, originally, intended to be Generic and Universal. In other words, game mechanics did not need genre specific modifications. Hero manages genres by varying the build mechanics while execution mechanics are (mostly) the same. GURPS retains the same build and execution mechanics, expecting the genre to be imposed by the GM and players.

My experience with GURPS is that while you can use it for almost any genre, it doesn't do ANY genre as well as the gaming system that would be it's competition within that genre, but that's JUST my experience.

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I've been thinking about running this GURPS WWII campaign for years and just thought I'd post it here to see what people thought of it.

 

All the King's Men

The War in North Africa

a GURPS World War Two campaign

 

 

Premise: All the King's Men will consist of three intertwined campaigns set during the Desert War in North Africa during World War Two. One campaign will focus on the war on land, one in the air, and the third at sea. The campaign style will be a mix of the "Gritty Heroes" and the "Dashing, Daring, Do" styles of play.

 

This will be a long term campaign lasting through nearly half of the war. The Desert War began in September of 1940 and didn't finally wrap up until May of 1943, 32 months later.

 

The land campaign will see the PCs start as the seasoned soldiers of the 16th British Infantry Brigade, having fought in the early skirmishes against the Italians in June, July, and August. By the end you'll be elite troops with either Major Ralph Bagnold's Long Range Desert Group or Lieutenant-Colonel David Sterling's Special Air Service.

 

The air campaign will start you as young Pilot Officers flying the old Gloster Gladiator biplanes before you earn your way into Hurricanes and eventually Spitfires, with special missions in Beauforts, Blenheims, Beaufighters, and Mosquitoes. Control of the skies was constantly see-sawing back and forth through most of the war in the desert so you can expect to see plenty of action for this one.

 

The sea campaign will see the PCs initially aboard a scratch force of hastily armed speedboats and motor launches trying to interdict enemy supplies coming across the Med from Italy. Once they arrive from home, you'll transition into motor gun boats, and torpedo boats. It's possible that you could finish the campaign on one of the big fast German E-boats, but you'll have to capture and then refit one first.

 

 

For the land campaign you'll build your characters on the 50 point Rifleman template but you'll have 30 extra points to work with. Keep the ranks at 0 or 1 (private/lance corporal, corporal) Use those extra points to pick up needed skills from the LRDG or Commando templates. Most characters should be from England, but Welsh, Scottish or Irish would be okay as well.

 

For the air campaign you'll build your characters on the straight 60 point Fighter Pilot template. Everyone will start as rank/grade 3 Pilot Officers at no cost. Your characters could be from anywhere in the British Empire as long as you can come up with a plausible, or at least interesting, explanation of how they wound up in the RAF in North Africa. Please try to have an even mix of regulars and reservists.

 

For the sea campaign you'll build your characters on the 50 point Sailor template but with 15 extra points to reflect the fact that the Royal Navy is a seasoned force and even the reservists are well trained. You'll all be RNVR officers with the rank of Midshipman or Sub-Lieutenant, again at no cost. I am willing to allow one player to create a veteran Petty Officer built on an extra 30 points for a total of 95. But such a character would be in his early 40s at least and of course will never be the CO.

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One big thing:  GURPS is far more lethal.  As in, all dice are killing dice in Hero terms.  Plus, damage past your defenses...tends to get multiplied.  It's reflecting that the knife is more lethal than the fist.  Problem is...that aspect of damage doesn't increase the cost of an attack all that much, IIRC.  So imagine the amount of rDef you'd buy when you'll routinely face AP killing...and the AP doesn't really count from a Hero "damage DCs" notion.

 

And yeah, I think agents is the root of GURPS.  Saying it tries to model reality is a bit much, but that is its core design ethos.  Supers is utterly fantastic;  it looks at that line and sandblasts it away.  The most glaring:  GURPS Basic Lift is based on your Str score, squared.  Works out that if you want routine super-strength?  OWWWW.  Gonna cost.

 

Last:  it's much more complex than Hero.  I do very much like the GURPS skill system, but it's also an integral part of the combat system.  They're aiming for universal and semi-realistic...so there's a BOATLOAD of skills, and there's a ton of interactions.

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2 minutes ago, unclevlad said:

Works out that if you want routine super-strength?  OWWWW.  Gonna cost.

 

Yeah, that's why they added the super strength hack to the system for GURPS Supers. In general I've found that any time a genre demands the power scale go into the extremes (superheroes, space opera, anime, etc.) all kinds of out-of-band mechanics have to get tacked onto GURPS just to make it work. It is ugly and inelegant, to say the least. For all its claims of universality, GURPS really only works best when the genre being played is trying to preserve a degree of mundane reality, and isn't trying to get too "cinematic".

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I don't have Supers, but I agree completely with your analysis.  In software, there's an old adage.  Fast, good, cheap...you can have 2.  Never 3.  Here, it's flexibility, range, consistency/simplicity...you can maybe have 2, but never 3.

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On 12/9/2018 at 12:28 PM, GM Joe said:

While GURPS 4e is much better at, well, just about everything than GURPS 3e, it still struggles in some places where HERO soars (and vice versa).

 

Playable realism comes naturally to GURPS. The further you get from that, the harder the system struggles.

 

 

I basically agree with this. Personally, I found GURPS to be a system of diminishing returns, while I've always found the Hero System to be one of increasing returns. And that is a fractal statement.

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