@Sandra ....I mean if someone wanted to run a game of Transhuman Space or Discworld i might* be interested.

*i would be


The first GURPS book I ever got was GURPS Discworld, the first edition, the one with GURPS Lite in the back that said it was a complete game (it wasn’t—it didn’t work w/o the full game).

The first crack in the GURPS fandom armor for me then was reading a GURPS Discword adventure in Pyramid or wherever and seeing that it double statted for WaRP. Which just looked like a way better game.

@Sandra @Capheind GURPS has flaws, but the biggest isn't so much the game, it's that everything is front loaded. You have to understand the entire, large game in order to start the game (well).

I like to use Fate as being somewhere on the opposite end of the spectrum. You start with minimal understanding and... discover that there's no game to discover, you have to build it yourself.

I think ideal games would be somewhere in the middle.

@jens @Capheind

I really, really want to get back into Fate now that Fate Condensed is out. I want a fresh canvas for my house rules and hacks now that I’ve taken my souped up version of D&D so far (#2097e). Not saying Fate is good out of the box but it’s really the game I wanna start working on.

But looks like next campaign is gonna be based on BitD. Maybe. If I can get my proverbial in gear and start working on that.

@Sandra @Capheind can't really argue with that. It just turns out that whenever I start on a game engine, I end up in GURPSish areas. I mean, not exactly, but close enough.

@jens @Capheind

The basic BRP/GURPS/Fudge abilities+skills+advantages engine is what I grew up with but that I really soured on over the years, because it uses the same mechanic for things that really should be different.

Talking, interacting, looking at things, opening chests, exploring, resource management and logistics… that shouldn’t be skill roll based. Dice can be involved but the dice should be on the side of the “world” not the char—i.e. “OK, that’s gonna take half an hour”→which has impact on random encounters etc.

@Sandra @Capheind I get that point, but I also disagree somewhat.

It's the same logic as D&D's combat rolls: it's not that you *swing wild* on a missed roll, it's that your thrust and parry with the opponent didn't land a solid enough blow to matter (unlike GURPS attacks).

Similarly, the skill in searching a chest isn't that someone can't do it, it's that they may not find something that's there.

But yes, GURPS is inconsistent here - like most systems.

@Sandra @Capheind but of course your view isn't wrong because of what I just wrote. I just think a bit of skill is realistic here.

So, let me ramble on in two directions here...

@Sandra @Capheind ... the first is really a question of the guiding dimension you're currently on.

Ok, so assume games are multidimensional things. In order to keep any kind of order to the actions of the players, you have to pick a dimension that is guiding all the others. In combat, that is usually time.

Varying movement speeds between characters is another way of saying that the space dimension is subordinate to time.


@Sandra @Capheind that is, you don't change the time intervals (rounds), but you adjust how far a character can move in that fixed time slot. Same with the limit on actions.

Because combat needs to be tightly synchronised, that's a good choice here.

But that doesn't mean that it's a good choice when synchronisation is not so necessary. As you say, searching is going to be successful eventually, so really you should determine how long it takes.

@Sandra @Capheind GURPSes ability focus basically never loses that time dimension as being guiding, which translates into degrees of success rather than amount of time as a result. It's perfectly appropriate for in-combat searches!

Other systems are more explicit in saying rolls are only necessary in tense situations, which is another way of saying that events need to be synchronised at the moment.

I think it would be more meaningful to have a degree of...

@Sandra @Capheind ... outcome and apply it either to degrees of success when time is a fixed amount, or degree of time spent when time constraints are more fluid.

But that doesn't really change anything about the abilities being the basis of the roll.

This is interesting stuff—maybe I quote it on the blog?

@jens @Capheind

I do use a time-based data-structure for searching, the ten minute exploration turn from older editions of D&D (including B/X):


But which of the walls is trapped, or which of the chests hold the key, or w/e is determined world-side not char-side.

Clinton’s classic experiment “Donjon” shows what happens when the world is all generated from char-side stats. Basically it’s a return to the old no-myth vs blorb discussions on Forge and S-G—char-side originated world-building makes a precommitted explorable world more difficult to prep and execute; the benefit is that you need less prep because so much of the world building is generated by the characters.

For example D&D 4e or PF2e (if you aren’t using the bounded accuracy mod in the Gamemastery Guide) where you can improvise a heist or whatever because, since the world scales so strictly with the characters that the opposition is essentially given. You meet a barkeep or a goblin or a minotaur or whatever? Gonna be matched to your level. That’s an example of char-side originated world building right there. Quite unblorby. In #blorb, the world and its entities are first class data-structures.

@Sandra @Capheind yes you may.

And no, you're right, not everything is char side - I may have misunderstood what precisely you were bothered with. Your three tiers of truth are a very good point for where to strike that balance.

@Sandra @Capheind The second thing is what I call the pivot of the game, i.e. what the entire mechanics revolve around.

In D&D it's classes. In GURPS it's abilities or skills. In other games it's equipment.

It's the fundamental choice you can make as a player to influence how the game is played.

In D&D, your class limits your choices. In some games you can unlock the ability to shoot when you equip a bow, etc.

@jens @Capheind

Right. But GURPS reintroduced classes when they embraced template-driven play.

@Sandra @Capheind What I mean when I say GURPSish is that often enough I prefer abilities as the pivot. That's all.

You can use other things to make the choices a bit more palatable.

Rolemaster uses classes which influence skill costs. Traveller uses the service terms as something that funnels these choices. And then there are templates, etc.

What I find fascinating and somewhat unwieldy in Fate is that the pivot is essentially group consensus.

@Sandra @Capheind That's very powerful, but is limited in that it works only when the group aims to reach consensus. Now YMMV, but I haven't found that to be always true for all groups, which is why I prefer something less disputable.

No point to this branch other than to get it out of my system 🤣

@jens @Capheind

What I mean when I say GURPSish is that often enough I prefer abilities as the pivot. That’s all.

Right♥, but that’s the one thing I like the least about GURPS. I find that the abilities become a lens, an interface in which the players interact with the world. I wanna search, I hit the “Search items” button, I wanna fight, I hit the “Shortsword” button, I wanna talk, I hit the “Fast-talk” button. I don’t want that.

I want a much more freeform and item-driven approach. Similar to what Knave later explored.

What I find fascinating and somewhat unwieldy in Fate is that the pivot is essentially group consensus.

That’s gonna be something I mod out of my own version obv. The 2097Fate I daydream about in my head is pretty different from how it’s sometimes been played in the past. I wanna lean into the FKR discussions.

@Sandra @Capheind Yes, this "lens" is what is sometimes called verbs, though that might come too much from computer game design. Verbs are the basic actions you have available for interacting with the world.

They're (almost) always there. Something like GURPS makes them very explicit.

Rolemaster is a bit better in that it lets you roll any skill, it just gives you a basic success rate when untrained (it's got issues there as well).

@Sandra @Capheind Classes are really just bundles of verbs that you have to decide between. It makes them easier to balance against each other for sure. It just also seems to introduce limits that may feel gamey but aren't very simulationistic.

@jens @Capheind

Right, but, with GURPS we get neither the gamey balance of classes nor the simulationistic fine granularity of freeform characters.

@jens @Capheind

So what I mean is…

In GURPS, you can use templates or you can build your on classes w/o templates.

Then you can use the premade skills/advantages or you can build your own.


Whereas in Fate you can just write down any text. Like “The second fastest gun in the west”—and that means something mechanically, that works.

@Sandra @Capheind @jens

Yeah, that's an obvious advantage of Fate. However actually coming up with good aspects, let alone use them mechanically seems to be a problem for many players ...

@Sandra @Capheind @jens

... From experience in my gaming group I gravitate towards rules systems, that demand very little rules knowledge from the players. If all they have to remember is to roll 3d6 under some target number, that's fine. Also the character sheet should be as simple as possible. On the other hand just about all of my players are into backstories, and signature gear, crafting, and some tend to get hung up on technical details. That's why I think GURPS wont be a bad fit.


right, and as to those pivotal skills, versus playing out scenes with regard to equipment, room features, conflicting NSCs or whatever: I like to think of skill checks as short cuts, one might want to use, but doesn't have to.

If you want to play out a social scene, go ahead. Convince me and I'll sure add a bonus to the reaction roll. And if you enjoy solving the puzzle trap yourself, all the better, let's play it out and forget about any skills for now ...

@Sandra @Capheind


Systems that have both skills and play (for example both “Roll Fast-Talk” and “What do you say to the guard?”) come in four varieties: Basically four models:

Skills IOR play required. You can use one or the other, your choice.
Skills AND play required. You need to look in the right place and roll high.
Skills required. Play can give flavor, or a bonus, but does not matter. You get advantage or +4 if you speak well.
Play required. Skills can give flavor but does not matter. You need leverage to try, but you can get an even better result if you then additionally roll high.

@Sandra but aren't these rather varying play styles? I can't remember any rules system, that e.g. allowed you only to roll dice if you played your role well.

I'd say, I even switch freely between thoes four variants even in a single game.

@wandererbill They are part of game design.

Many groups do their own game design at the table to fill in gaps in the printed design or to change things that are specified one way in the printed design but they want to the other way. That’s common in RPGs.

I make design decisions deliberately at every level—game selection, house rule writing, prepping, and at the table—albeit with mediocre success of course. It’s all a big experiment.

@jens @Capheind

Yeah, verbs. IF for the win—whered’ya think I snarfed the word “blorb” from? Fun fun fun.♥

But I don’t want the verb-driven interface. I want a way more freeform interface. Here, you have these items, you have this situation. Say what you want to do. I’m not a digital parser, there’s not gonna be a “Verb not found”, I’m a human, I can listen (and translate it to rules).

I want to make systems that makes you to focus on the weight of the sword in your hand, which rooms to explore, whom to save and whom to fight. When you interrogate a prisoner, what do you say exactly? When you try to disarm a trap, what do you do exactly?

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