The first thing to know is that GURPS is a system or toolkit for building a campaign.
The second thing to understand is that GURPS is modular and designed from the ground up to be that way. You do not need or often want to use all the books in a given campaign so choose what is best for your goals. This modular approach makes it a great system for designing any kind of campaign the GM wants and letting players play a wide variety of characters. However the more options you use the more complexity you will have and at some point it will likely be too much.
So only use what you want and safely discard the rest for any particular game.
I wrote this blog primarily to help you with those choices.
At its core GURPS is a very easy game to play, roll 3d6 and if it is at or below your effective skill you succeed and if above that you failed.
Anything more than that i really just gravy and icing on the cake.
You can get very detailed or just 'roll and shout!' and let the GM just guess. You may even choose both styles for the same game based on how important the task is to the game.
In considering a game all these choices can be intimidating but lets break it down into digestible pieces.
Choose the genre or sub-genre.
Most game systems choose this for you as they are built around a specific genre or setting. Since GURPS is designed to support any genre you will have to decide this for yourself.
Choose realistic, cinematic or over the top.
- Some Genres: Comedy, Fantasy, Hardboiled detective, Hard Sci Fi, Martial Arts, Mystery, Pulp, Romance, Space Opera, Western
- Realistic:Most TV and Movie Westerns, Mash
- Cinematic: MacGyver, The A Team, Kung Fu the tv series, Street Supers.
- Over The Top: Wuxia movies, Dragon Ball series, Super heroes,
- GURPS Books suggestions by Genre offers specific suggestions by genre
- GURPS Settings lists most of the published settings. Use one, mine several for ideas to make your own setting or just see what has already been done.
Choose Your Style
A GM needs to decide and declare their gaming style so that the players know what to expect. Remember everyone is at the table to have fun and surprises better be pleasant rather than yank the rug out from under the players. This page lists some things that may help you. GURPS GM Tips
- GURPS Combat Material lists books focused on combat. All you really need is GURPS Basic set to handle combat in any setting or genre. However sometimes you want more depth and a martial arts game would benefit from the extra detail of say GURPS Martial Arts ot GURPS Technical Grappling, playing a realsitic military game would beenfit from GURPS Tactical Shooting and a game based on say John Wick would beneift from GURPS Gun Fu.
- GURPS Magic Systems support a variety of ways to do magic. You could play a modern day secret magic setting, fireball slinging wizards, subtle magic that may not even be real, or epic world changing magic. All can be done in GURPS and so there are a number of books that help you no matter what your goal is.
- GURPS Social Material: GURPS treats social interactions as simple role-playing with minimal game support (roll against a skill when in doubt) or detailed rules suitable for a social intrigue or political game between kings or politicians. Again its not can I do this in GURPS but what level of detail you want to get into..
- GURPS Monsters, NPCs and things that make life interesting!
- GURPS Equipment Books
- Just Roll 3d6 The Rules Light Shopping Guide is good advice on what books are most useful for certain games.