Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sister Systems: Gurps Ultra-Lite

Before I discovered Risus I was almost exclusively a Gurps GM. Before marriage (and certainly before kids) I actually had time and energy to exhaustively prepare for sessions. I remember creating massive spreadsheets of NPC stats - recording advantages, disadvantages, and skills to a crazy level of detail. It didn't bother me at the time. It was fun and I had enough free time that it didn't seem to interfere with my other interests.

Those days are long gone. I still like Gurps, but running it the way I that I used to run it just isn't going to fly anymore. Even if I had the time and energy, I've long since burned out on over-preparing like that. Years ago, I investigated various rules-lite systems to help simplify my prep work and I developed an NPC short-hand based first on Castle Falkenstein, then Fudge, and eventually Risus. You can guess from the focus of this blog that Risus has become my primary NPC-definition tool for running Gurps. But it's not my only tool.

At some point last year, Steve Jackson Games released a free micro-lite version of Gurps called Gurps Ultra-Lite. Even lighter that Gurps Lite, it distilled the essence of Gurps down a single Pocket Mod (a sheet of paper folded into an 8-page booklet). It was in fact responsible for my current infatuation with Pocket Mods, but that'll have to be the subject of a future post.

Gurps Ultra-Lite details a combat mechanic that resembles standard Gurps but is different enough that I'd hesitate to use it in play. Its method of defining characters, however, is pure awesome. In a nutshell, you define Strength (ST), Dexterity (DX), Intelligence (IQ), and Health (HT) as well as a few skills with only a handful "levels". These "levels" cover a whole lot of ability. One level of Strength, for example, gives you "Average" (Gurps ST=10) while two levels makes you "Strong" (Gurps ST=14). For skills, each level gives you a bonus of +4 off a governing attribute (starting from a default of -6). Wealth and Charisma are the only two "Advantages" that are defined, though it would be easy enough to add more.

It's the method of handling skills that I really like, however. No surprise, really, since each "skill" more closely resembles a Risus cliche than an actual Gurps skill. They are like "Bang!" skills on steroids. Not only does a skill like "Knight" encompass things like fighting, riding, and heraldry. It also includes the knight's weapons, horse, and armor. This is just like Tools of the Trade in Risus. A higher skill level also assumes that you have better equipment and Wealth can increase this equipment bonus.

Gurps Ultra-Lite characters can easily be plugged into an existing Gurps games with minimal difficulty. I often use the Ultra-Lite equipment rules to estimate stats for weapons and armor rather than looking up the real values in play. Ultra-Lite "levels" more closely map to Risus cliche levels, which makes it a snap to translate a Ninja (4) from Risus into a workable Gurps character in no time.

1 comment:

Nero said...

We made a boiled down version of GURPS ages ago after a a mind numbingly complex Special Ops/Martial Arts game.

GURPS resources are fantastic; but I've left the system behind.