Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mixing two flavour that don't match? - GURPS Dungeon Fantasy

I have known about this line a while, since I read the Daily Illuminator, but I haven't investigated what it meant. Until now.

There's a line for GURPS called GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, and it's supposed to be a way to do dungeon crawling with GURPS. This sounds like everything but a match made in heaven. When I last made a character for GURPS, it took ages to shuffle points around and look through long lists of Advantages and Disadvantages. Can you really do a dungeon crawl that way? With traps? With puzzles and really dangerous monsters? With a real threat of a TPK?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that a dungeon crawl has to be a meatgrinder, but if I ran a game where the experience of making a character was that tiring, I'd be tempted to cuddle the players. That is what I think sounds like a recepie for a boring game. Maybe it's just me. Maybe it just works. Maybe.

It makes me wonder why crazy I am that am talking about Ars Magica, DragonQuest and Mythic Europe. Something odd in the water, maybe?


  1. In my old Champions games I once had a group of modern super heroes get temporarily transported to a classic fantasy world dungeon. That puts it into a sort of "spoof" catagory, and maybe it works like that. But I just don't find a dungeon grind using a sytem so heavily reliant on skills that appealing, especially in a campaign.

    D&D from the early days always suggested mixing other genres with the D&D character, like Sci Fi and Western and such, and I just never really did it. I liked my fantasy as D&D and Runequest, my Sci Fi/Supers as Hero System, and my horror Call of Cthulhu - and never did they meet.

    Well, OK, I mixed some Lovecraft into my D&D once or twice, but it was more dark ages Lovecraft.

  2. They match perfectly well both times I've ran GURPS DF campaigns. One was for a Keep on the Borderlands game and the other was for a Dark Sun campaign.

    It's violent, chock full of resources to make the GM's life easier (creatures, traps, magic items, etc.), very easy to modify to your style of game, and has great advice about how to fine-tune GURPS to provide an excellent dungeon crawl experience. DF 1 establishes the basics, along with character creation, while DF 2 goes over the nuts and bolts on how to make a dangerous environment. There are other DF books that are useful, but those two are probably the most important.

    As for your concern about character creation, the premade templates allow character creation to be a snap. What we found was that the premade templates had more than enough options provided in their design that no two warriors or priests were clones of each other. Furthermore, the templates are just really useful suggestions, so while you can discard most of it and shuffle points around and look through long lists of advantages and disads if you really want too, you have plenty of options at your fingertips by using the templates so you don't need to surf through the GURPS characters book for thirty minutes.

    My favorite character creation option in DF is replacing the skills on the template for bang skills, so that you'll just have Barbarian! skill, instead of needing to have to deal with seperate skills for each and every thing your character can do. I think it fits in brilliantly with games that emphasise niche protection (like old school fantasy), but yet still allows you to pick up some non-Barbarian skills for your character, such as ones involving sneaking in order to make your Barbarian more like Conan and less like Grontar the Frutang.

    Personally, I suggest checking out the DF series. It's my go-to supplement for GURPS fantasy gaming.

  3. Although I didn't keep up with it you can see a GURP Dungeon Crawl in action via my twitter account

    Right now we are going through B4 The Lost City with our characters.

    Is it a different dynamic sure. You are a lot more cautious at nearly all point levels (at least in a realistic style campaign) because you know you can die from a single blow. No very probable with good skill because your defense is high. But still the chance is there.

    Also as for the meatgrinder aspect of GURPS remember with the right set of templates making a GURPS character can be just as easy as say 1e AD&D. (probably never as easy as B/X or OD&D tho)

  4. I realized I had once again tried to be more subtle than the medium really can carry. Everyone seems to have taken it well, though. I wasn't as sceptical as I was trying to sound like. Very nice feedback!

    As far as I've understood GURPS DF have worked quite well, and even though I think it sounds like an odd match, it sounds like there are some cool innovations in there.

    But, I think I'd still prefer T&T or B/X, no doubts about it. :)


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