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GURPS Playtest Debrief

I spent a lot of time this weekend playing GURPS and loving it. The rules have had a few revisions but more and more of it is pure GURPS and much less borrowed from other systems.

I am using a lot of Cinematic optional rules in this game, they are keeping my character alive, speeding play up and moving the story along. There are two blocks of cinematic rules in the basic set, there are the cinematic rules and the chainmail bikini rules. I am not using the chainmail bikini rules.

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There are no explicitly cinematic rules in High Tech, which is a pity. What you get instead is a cinematic note on just about every piece of equipment. I found that I was copying these onto my character and NPC sheets. I cannot incorporate them into the solo rules, although I would like to, because it would be copying too much of the book contents.

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What I have learned so far is that I need more GURPS books in my life. In particular, I want Martial Arts. Martial Arts is an important part of the modern world adventuring, and they are less lethal and dramatically final than gunfights.

Martial Arts also has cinematic rules. I don’t own the book but I grabbed the image here from the book preview on DriveThru.

I have been using Karate as a core skill all through this playtest. My game has been set in mostly urban/city settings, offices and the odd superyacht. The scope for blasting away with a 9mm Glock is limited and not in character. I am also finding that as I am earning Bonus points, I want to put them into my martial arts because it is my most used combat skill.

Do I need Martial Arts? The answer is probably not. The basic set gives me a whole range of moves I can use and these give me the advantage over untrained thugs. Do I want Martial Arts? I think this is part of the Role Players ‘I want it all”‘ syndrome.

Playing the game in a modern world means that there are only a limited number of books you may need. I have the advantage that I am going to sell my GURPS solo rules. Basic Set(s) + High Tech + Martial Arts will total less than $120. I have spent more than that on games I never got to play. With solo play, I know I am going to use the books. I am in the ridiculous situation of even knowing what pages I want to read. I have already been playing Bowie and Adams for more than 15hrs. That would work out at $8/hr and I have barely gotten started.

Cinematic vs Narrative Combat

You are almost certainly familiar with cinematic combat. If you aren’t then check out the Campaign book for Cinematic Combat and Cinematic Campaigns. Generally they are just a bit more heroic at the cost of being a little less realistic. My influences are Miami Vice, Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun, realism is not really a high priority here.

Narrative Combat is a way of reducing an entire combat down to just a couple of skill rolls. The gist of it is that for minor skirmishes, fights that are not supposed to take your character out, or exist to foreshadow a greater threat, or to wear down your resources, you can boil these fights down to a skill difficulty. How hard is it going to be to beat them? You then think in purely narrative terms, what are you going to do, how are you going to defeat them?

That description then tells you the skills being employed. You roll the skill test and the success or failure gives you the outcome of the first half of the fight. Two cycles of this is enough to resolve many combats. The best possibly depiction of narrative combat is the lobby scene in the original matrix movie.

That scene is easy to imagine, it is easy to identify the skills being used, but to play that out second by second would have taken hours. Reducing it down to descriptive play and just a few skill rolls keep the pace of the game going.

Narrative combat is described in more detail in the solo rules. I am a big fan of them, but then I wrote them so that is no surprise.

As things progress this week I will keep you informed of the progress. Today is a writing day, tonight is another evening of play and playtest.

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