September 11, 2013
A Look At The Fluff Of GURPS
Short answer; there is no fluff in GURPS. The Generic Universal Role-Playing System is exactly that, universal. It is made to incorporate the possibility of any sort of game that a Gamemaster might want to run. From the realistic to the fantastic, the modern to the ancient or the ultra-futuristic, the silly to the serious, and everything in between. As such, it is really hard to nail down any fluff the game might have, as it is all determined by the players and the Gamemaster, but there are some distinct advantages to this.
As I discussed when examining what it is like to run a game that takes place within the canon of Star Wars, when you have a distinct setting it can be very difficult for players and Gamemasters to push beyond its boundaries. This is true not only of games based on popular film, books, or television, but also games that just have a very strong cannon on their own. In Anima: Beyond Fantasy, Elizabetta Barbados is the child empress of the Holy Empire, and much of the political turmoil within the fractured Empire is due to her taking the throne. Now, if I wanted to, I could run a campaign where the last descendant of the first Emperor, Lucanor Giovanni, were to make a push for the throne, but in doing so I would completely unravel much of the cannon of Gaia. While it could be fun, the game would then become something that exists outside of Anima, just as if you run a game of Star Wars and manage to slay the Emperor and Darth Vader, and you name is not Luke Skywalker, then you are now gaming in something outside of Star Wars. GURPS does not run into this problem. Lacking that cannon, it allows the Gamemaster and players to create their own cannon. The world they exist in is there only for them, and so they can be the ones to incite major change within the world without feeling like they are breaking through some invisible wall they were not meant to.
GURPS characters also feel much more like people than characters in many other games. Advantages and Disadvantages, not to mention Quirks, help give these characters a sense of realism. In addition, the game can be incredibly deadly at times. They take a realistic approach to damage and dying, meaning that a character might get killed when stabbed with a knife no matter how tough they are. A knife is still a knife. This realistic feel adds a great deal to GURPS games, as it gives the players something they can understand, or even relate to (not that many of my players have been stabbed before, as far as I know) since, like them, their characters are people. They are individuals. Most importantly, they are more than just some numbers written down on a piece of paper. This is something many games try for, and GURPS seems able to pull off with ease.
GURPS is a great game, even lacking a great deal of fluff. It is an empty canvass waiting for the Gamemaster and the players to take their brushes to it and go to town.
Image Credit: Steve Jackson Games