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4th Edition

The oldest/most successful generic RPG system

Publisher Description

Welcome to the Generic Universal RolePlaying System!

With GURPS, you can be anyone you want – an elf hero fighting for the forces of good, a shadowy femme fatale on a deep-cover mission, a futuristic swashbuckler carving up foes with a force sword in his hand and a beautiful woman by his side . . . or literally anything else! Thanks to its flexibility, quality writing, and ease of use, GURPS has been the premiere universal roleplaying game for over three decades!


GURPS: Generic Universal Role-Playing System [ edit ]

As its name suggests, GURPS is another generic system, and one which can truly handle almost any RPG genre.  Started by Steve Jackson Games back in 1986, GURPS is by far the most well-established of any of the systems here, having started, and it remains a popular system even today, now in its 4th edition.

Characters in GURPS are created using a point system.  An average person has 25 points, a typical adventurer has 100, and a cinematic hero like Indiana Jones might have 200 or more points.  By spending points characters can acquire better stats, skills, and specific advantages, and they can also gain disadvantages to gain extra pints.  These points also serve as the "experience points" of the system.

Somewhat Cinematic Rules, but Not as Pulpy [ edit ]

In GURPS players succeed at actions by reaching a certain difficulty number, which is based on their skill.  To reach that number they roll 3d6, which has a very nice stabilizing effect: far more 10s and 11s are rolled than 3s or 18s (vs. a d20 system, where both extreme and middle numbers all have similar chances).

Much of the rest of the GURPS rules are similarly well-designed. For instance, many systems (eg. Dungeons and Dragons) use square grids, which then allow characters to move faster diagonally than orthogonally.  GURPS instead uses hexmaps, which don't have this issue.

At the same time though, as great as GURPS rules are  in general, they don't have quite the same "pulpy" feel that the Savage Worlds rules have.  For instance, in GURPS combat every attack involves three rolls: an attack roll, a defense roll, and a damage roll.  This makes combat in GURPS, while more realistic, a bit slower than systems like Dungeons and Dragons or Savage Worlds, which only have attack and damage rolls.

Also, instead of using a square grid, GURPS utilizes a hex map, which solves the problem of diagonal movement being unequal (but may be unfamiliar to groups used to D&D-style square grids).

Great Generic System, But Not the Most Cinematic [ edit ]

Ultimately GURPS is a really great system, which you can use for nearly any genre of RPG you could possibly want to play ... including a campaign in the world of Indiana Jones.  If you're already a GURPS fan, or if you're looking for a powerful and long-loved system that you can use for other campaigns also, GURPS is an excellent choice.

However, if you're not already familiar with the system, and specifically looking to start an Indiana Jones campaign, the rules of Savage Worlds or Hollow Earth Expedition are likely going to feel closer to the over-the-top cinematic thrills of the Indiana Jones franchise.  Thus, those systems will likely fit your campaign better than GURPS ... unless you want it to have a more realistic ruleset.