GURPS · How We Play

My Letter to my Players

Last time, I outlined the four sort-of principles I’ve been operating with while setting up my new game.

I thought perhaps I’d copy here the exact words I sent to my new players, just so you can track how the theory has made its way into practice so far.   Some context: some of these players I hardly know, and they hardly know each other (though they’re all very decent people, it seems to me!)  Most are new or new-ish to GURPS, and one has never done tabletop roleplaying before, though he certainly understands what it is.

My Initial Email to Players (lightly edited to protect the guilty parties)

It appears we now have a decent-sized test-group for roleplaying.  Cheers for that!  So it’s now time to make some arrangements.  First, I’ll recap the plan.  Then I’ll ask you all for three pieces of information – the first two regarding scheduling, the third regarding what kind of character you’d like to play.

The Plan

We’re going to run 3 roleplaying sessions.  After that, we’ll stop and re-assess.  If they prove less than fun, or if they just prove impossible to schedule, then those are the only three we’ll run.  But if we’re all having fun, and want to continue, then we’ll try to make it a regular (ideally weekly) game.  That might involve continuing the same campaign, or it might involve starting something new – whatever seems most fun to us.

Because we’re really testing the logistics, the viability of the group, etc, rather than going all-in for a detailed campaign, we’re going to start by playing something pretty cheap-and-cheerful: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy.  Basically, this just means we’re doing a standard D&D/CRPG-style “Dungeon crawl”, using a streamlined version of GURPS.  The advantage of this is that we’ll be working in an instantly recognizable genre, with a system that’s easy to pick up.  Also, I have a lot of fun material just sitting around that I can thrown into play with minimal effort on my part, so that’s certainly a draw.

Scheduling

We’re all busy people with lives, extremely time-consuming jobs, and so on, so this is obviously going to be the biggest hurdle.  But here goes…

In an ideal world, we’d be able to establish a time, right from the outset, that would work, in principle, for a weekly game going forwards (if it should come to that).  That way, our test of the logistics would really be a test of the logistics, if you get me.  

Failing that, though, any time that we can all get together would be a real victory.  That being the case, I think it might be best to ask everyone for two pieces of info:

1) What times during the week might work, in principle, for a weekly game, should it come to that?   If we can find a good time in common, then test the logistics during our 3 test sessions, then things are going brilliantly.

2) Failing that, are there any times that might work for a first session (only) just during this coming week? 

Characters

GURPS has a hugely sophisticated character creation system, that allows you to make pretty much any kind of character you like, from toasters to toastmasters.  But for this test game, I think perhaps we ought to keep it really simple by using the streamlined character creation process in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy.  This means you all begin by selecting a very traditional schlock fantasy archetype.  Then you use a simplified method to create a character, picking various things from a small menu (a “template” in GURPS parlance).  Or if you don’t want to do any of that, just pick an archetype and I can easily whip up a character for you.

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy provides for many, many different archetypes, but for simplicity I’ve edited the list down to the following:

  • Artificer
  • Assassin
  • Barbarian
  • Bard
  • Cleric
  • Evil Cleric
  • Holy Warrior (i.e. a “Paladin”)
  • Innkeeper (if you must!) 
  • Knight (i.e. any dedicated  warrior or D&D “fighter” – not necessarily a chivalric type)
  • Martial Artist
  • Scholar
  • Scout (i.e. an expert archer and/or tracker)
  • Sorcerer
  • Swashbuckler
  • Thief
  • Unholy Warrior (i.e. an evil “paladin”)
  • Wizard

There’s also a standard menu of fantasy “races” to choose from, but let’s leave that aside for now…

That’s it.  As you may be able to tell, I’m very excited about this – even if it only runs for 3 sessions, then it ought to be worthwhile, simply as an experiment.  And honestly I’ll be impressed if we can just schedule the thing.

Looking forward to descending into the monster- and cliche-infested corridors of the dungeon with you…

That’s what I sent my new players a week ago – and, as luck would have it (rather unbelievably, actually, given our schedules!) it turned out that we were able to find a time that would work for all of us, in principle, on a weekly basis, most weeks.

Maybe it will work out as a longer-term thing, and maybe it won’t – but it ought to be an interesting experiment, in any case.

Dear reader, keep your fingers crossed for us!  Naturally I’ll keep you posted on further developments.

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