Friday, August 2, 2019

Review - GURPS Template Toolkit 2: Races

I've been looking forward to this book since it was announced and here is my review.
The book is designed primarily to help a GM design a new race or model one from another source. You can purchase it here or check out all of the authors work on W23 here

Publication History

This is the first edition of GURPS Template Toolkit 2: Races. Many existing GURPS supplements have racial templates for various sorts of beings; e.g., biologically created or modified species in GURPS Bio-Tech, fantastic races in GURPS Fantasy, monsters in GURPS Horror and GURPS
Zombies, and robots in GURPS Ultra-Tech. This book borrows from them all – but puts all those borrowings into a comprehensive framework, with a lot of new material.
Racial traits in this work come from the GURPS Basic Set; from GURPS Powers; and from GURPS Power-Ups 2: Perks and GURPS Power-Ups 6: Quirks. Traits from other supplements, along with a few new traits, appear in Appendix A.
I chose to borrow that from the book itself as I feel it describes things better than I would.

Chapter 1: Racial Templates and Meta-Traits 

8 pages
Explains the basics about templates and races and gives working definitions. If your an experienced world builder the first section may seem like a rehash but I recommend reading it anyway. The next section is a bit more crunchy in identifying specific traits for various races. It includes several new meta-traits and a hit location table for different forms. Its followed by a list of relevant Features, including several for vehicles and robots or computers as Allies.

Chapter 2: Basic Parameters

8 pages
Leads off with a size and weight table along with HP and ST based on size and different values for various Injury Tolerance types such as Unliving and Homogeneous and Diffuse. I love that table, it saves a lot of math and thus time when figuring out appropriate values for your new race.  Its followed up by some explanations and math, including alternate methods, including a discussion on swarms. The Scale section is probably worth two dollars all by itself.
Habitats is next, at first glance it looks similar to whats in GURPS Space but the differences are significant and include a lot of really weird atmosphere types and the traits needed to survive in them.  This is especially true in the remaining sections of the chapter and widens the GMs options, especially useful for Aliens settings. Though the Body of Energy is also useful for some Supers campaigns.

Chapter 3: Choosing Traits

13 pages
This chapter gets into the actual design of your new race. It starts off with the concept and different approaches then moves into traits. Physical traits covers a lot of ground and gives solid guidance, more useful than expected. The Mental traits section includes material from GURPS Space (mostly the tables) but is set up not as a random generator system but a choose your level and trait. Social Traits is pretty short, which works for me.

Chapter 4: Races in Play

6 pages
Most of the crunchy stuff was covered in earlier chapters so this is more a chapter on advice. An interesting bit is how much space is devoted to transformations which I suspect will displease some but be an eye-opener for others.

Appendix A and B

7 pages
Appendix A is a list of traits, it includes several new modifiers (some from other books, including Itch which I thought was in GURPS Basic but nope) so this is a useful consolidation that does not take up too much space. Also the new material is nice, Good Grip and Signals are new advantages I think many will like.  Though I wish Good Grip had a bit more detail. Perks and the rest are good also.
Appendix B gives us some worked examples, including a Biplane, an electrical based amphibian, a demon, prosthetic (robot) body, and a raven.


I liked the book a lot. Its dense as is most of Bill's work but the subject lent to more organization and it will be an easier reference work than some of his books (I'm looking at you Supers).
CH01 and CH02 are valuable primarily as consolidating and reworking material from multiple books in one place. The rest adds other things.
Several modifiers, good ideas for vehicles as Allies, Signaling, Good Grip (suckers and such). etc.

One minor quibble is that I wished certain books had been given a call out so people might check them out. Note the first two are my articles so I may be biased..
Animal Combat Styles, Pyramid #3/111 gives martial arts styles for animals. Good for animal allies and some of its new techniques could be used for races created with this book.
An Alien Way of Thinking, Pyramid #3/110 gives ideas for how races with different properties (especially senses) might think.
Animating Your Life, Pyramid #3/101 A good treatment of Toons for GURPS, really should have had a call out in the Animating box.
Unfortunately I dont think the author read any of these Pyramids, its hard to have everything after all.

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