Saturday, November 21, 2015

Templates vs. Free Build

Like I said in my last post I'm in the middle of writing a setting book for my gaming group to play GURPS from. I'm going to be including all the basic stuff (attributes, characteristics, advantages and disadvantages, etc) though in a much shorter format than is actually in the Basic Set and the other books I decide to take stuff from. This is partially because I only own one set of the books and I'm not going to make my players buy a game that they aren't sure about, and partially because the last time I tried to run GURPS I set the stack of books down and no matter how much I said "Don't worry, we aren't using much from any of these for actual play," they couldn't get over just how many books are available. So I figure if I can link them a pdf or word document with bare bones write ups and page references to the actual books they may be able to swallow it a bit better.

This leads me to my first conundrum though. Whether I should provide them all with templates from Dungeon Fantasy and make them stick to those templates, or if I should have the players do free build their characters with my help. Both have pros and cons though, and I'm going to list them out for my own benefit at least.


  • Easier character building
  • More independence when building characters
  • Niche protection
  • Easier identification of character types; frex: "Oh you're a wizard and I'm a thief, we need a healer and a fighter then..."
  • DF doesn't allow for much in the way of social skills, advantages, or disadvantages and since I want an almost completely open sandbox that may cause some issues
  • Power level might be too high for the kind of game I want to run and using the low point total 
  • Could induce not just niche protection but the idea that you have to stay inside your role 100%, which isn't what I want. (One of the reasons I want to run with GURPS is I want my mage's player to decide it's bullshit that he can't use a sword and spend the points to learn how, or the fighter to do the same thing but the other way around.)
  • Allowing for non human PCs is trickier. Not impossible though, obviously.

Free Build
  • More freedom in character building
  • Gives me a bit more room to define the power level as far as how many points I give the players to use
  • "Cross classing" will almost definitely be a thing, who doesn't want to be a good fighter that casts spells, can sneak, and track, etc.
  • Allowing for non human PCs is much easier.
  • Easier to introduce social skills, advantages, and disadvantages; they're there from the beginning!
  • No "class" templates means more hand holding on my part and more likely that my players (all new to GURPS) will build underpowered or "useless" characters. It also means much more time spent making the characters as everyone reads over all the skills, advantages, and disadvantages and agonizes over their decisions.
  • The almost certainty of "cross class" characters might also mean that PCs end up stepping on each other's toes a lot.
  • They may also end up with a fairly glaring hole in their capabilities, hopefully I'll be able to spot it before play started but there's no guarantee
So there we go. I'd like to run a good game for these guys and one of the biggest things I want out of GURPS (and why I want to run with this system instead of ACKS like I'd originally planned) is I want the flexibility and openness of the system and I'm afraid I won't get that if I run straight Dungeon Fantasy despite the fact that that would probably be the easiest option. Especially since all my players are brand new to the system. I'll have to think on this more and discuss it with my group a bit.