You know what I really love about GURPS and The Call of Cthulhu and similar games?

Characters can have *texture*.

When I've played FATE and FUDGE they were more broad strokes: you got a few points, BIG ONES, to define your character. And that elegance is COOL, don't get me wrong. You want someone able to sit down at a table, see a character sheet and know what someone is about? That was damn cool.

But in GURPS or Cthulhu one skill point is almost free. You get over a hundred of the things. So you want to detail that your character spent first year as a English Lit major before moving into Theoretical Astrophysics? You can do that. Have a hobby skiiing? You can do that.

Also: I love how over the long term the skills you have show the phases of the campaign. Like when we ALL took navigation due to our ranger taking a year off.

@Canageek On what axis do you mean "what they're all about?"

Because to me the most interesting parts of a character are the things that are untranslatable to a charsheet.

@Canageek Traits like "how do they deal with the disappointment of feeling left out of something?"

@starkatt See, that stuff is system agnostic for me, since as you said, you can't put that on a character sheet.

@Canageek :nod: just sayin', I could look at a sheet filled with like "has a dot in Navigation" and not feel like it conveyed significant things about a character, personally :)

@Canageek "Picked up some navigational skills while the Ranger is away" definitely, but that doesn't need to be mechanically expressed to be real and significant!"

@starkatt Oh that is true, like, to anyone else it means less, but when you know the history of the character, it helps to have that down, doubly so when a skill comes up years later.

Like, my character was a party animal before the campaign, so he had dancing as a skill, and that came up two years into the game when we showed up at our new allies town in the middle of their spring festival (The festival when they have enough supplies to stop eating winter cabbage) and was able to

@starkatt pick up the dances and join in. (Actually, this eventually led to everyone else in the party taking dance lessons as I recall)

@Canageek The fundamental difference here is that you find skill checks expressive and I don't.

@Canageek Like, my character danced last night!

And rather than rolling to impress, I just said "Ok, so the way she dances is confident and unashamed, but she has pretty much no experience so it's a bit flailing and chaotic." Because that was true to her nature and history :)

@starkatt Yeah, you probably also don't like skill success and failure becoming major parts of the story.

Like, the biggest example I can think of is when I blew a wild magic roll and teleported us to a demi-dimension. That is when we encountered time travel magic and discovered the list of magics that both the Sedhai and Ferion agree is SUPER banned due to the risk of ending the world (antimagic, teleportation, time travel).

Which has led into the final plot arc

@Canageek Oh, no, success and failure need to be significant, otherwise there's no point to rolling in the first place.

@starkatt That was my impression for a long time, but our DM has us roll a lot (including for a lot of stuff I'd handwave) and I've seen him turn a minor failure into three entertaining sessions while we fix the mistake in our logistics roll or something like that.

@starkatt It is a different style, and not one I'm sure I could pull off, but when it works it is really cool. That said, I HAVE seen it get tedious at times, but it is a cool experience to say the least.

@Canageek okay so here's an hopefully illuminating question about the way your campaign runs: which of these modalities of player intent vs character motivation is dominant?

b) "Your job as a player is to have your character pursue her goal, having her act with integrity to her personality as it develops, and play to find out what happens to her." alongside some f) " Your job as a player is to see your character into adventures and danger alongside the other players' characters, regardless of her goals. You can have her pursue her goals when they'll bring her along, and ignore them when they'd have her retreat into her seclusium to study instead."

@starkatt But then I tend to be a very reactive player, rather then active. I think the DM wanted us to be more directed in where the campaign went early on, but adapted when most of us where more focused on personal or abstract character goals.

(My character is focused on making our new society more egalitarian and without money then the 10th century feudalism they left behind for example)

"Also: I love how over the long term the skills you have show the phases of the campaign. Like when we ALL took navigation due to our ranger taking a year off."

For reference, Burning Wheel has that (and depending on how you track stuff a history of your goals and how you pressed for them)

@takeonrules @Canageek @kensanata yeah, Burning Wheel is a great game and an enlightening read. I bought it when I was in England some years ago, read through cover to cover ... and then sold it again. While I (hope I) can appreciate it, for what it is, and very much enjoy listening to @Judd and Sean playing it, I thought it was not the game for me. To specific in places, to many different cogwheels to keep lubricated ... well, to my taste. Enjoy your read, @kensanata

@Canageek It always annoys me that most people add to skills in increments of 5, like that just turns it into a d20 system dammit.

@Canageek I'll admit that some of the fun and frustration of GURPS was in building characters. Unfortunately there was way more frustration for me. Having to figure out how many points would be the equivalent of 2nd year Latin (note: not a real example) or how to model one of the two Wonder Twins in GURPS really started moving into "how many angels can fit on this pin and are we talking Seraphim or Cherubim?


I tried modeling the ghosts from Pac Man for a joke session with my wife. I tried to model one of the ghost monsters in one of the books (don't recall, doesn't matter). In the end it didn't matter because everything took entirely too long for me to figure it out.

I still think GURPS is great for folks who love tinkering but for me it's the equivalent of using a battleship with full ships complement to commute to work. Too much, and not nearly as flexible as I would like. 😁

@craigmaloney @Canageek Long ago I ran a videogame-world game with Champions 3E, worked perfectly fine. Pac-Man had a high-value normal attack with a special effect of teleporting defeated enemies to their home.

These days I'd probably use Cartoon Action Hour instead.

@mdhughes @craigmaloney Have you tried Chaosium's Basic Roleplay system? The one that powers Call of Cthulhu? I think it does a lot of the same good points but with half the work. Now, it is much less flexible, but it does one thing and does it well, which is human or near human characters who are skill based and fragile.

I'm actually slowly (one page every few years slowly) writing my own game based on the same ideas.

@mdhughes @craigmaloney But I found out that the creators of the new edition of The Call of Cthulhu had a lot of the same ideas I did, which kinda reduced the point. Other then I can do it in like, 10 pages and give it away for free.

@Canageek @mdhughes You might want to check out GORE, which hits some of those mechanical notes, or even Chaosium's own BRP OGL (not quite the same as an actual OGL, but they're trying).

That said, I adore BRP for its simplicity and that it powers some best-in-class settings like CoC, Glorantha, and Pendragon.

@craigmaloney @mdhughes Yeah, my version is based on me running Call of Cthulhu from memory over many years, and every time I would forget something I'd insert a D&D-ism to keep the game moving rather then look it up. So it really smooths over a lot of the actual rules.

Plus, I wanted a skill-based D&D replacement, and CoC based systems don't really do that since you are ALWAYS so fragile. So I want to see if I can make a d% skill system without that issue.

@Canageek @mdhughes MIght want to look into Bare Bones Fantasy to see if that scratches that itch.

@Canageek @craigmaloney I love BRP, and more importantly Stormbringer 1st Ed, and even the later Magic World. But Moon Design dba "Chaosium" is a shitty lawyer-driven company and I'll never give them a penny again, hope they eat gravel.

There's nice non-Chaosium d100 games like OpenQuest, Legend, and Mythras, though, and WHFRP and RM-replacements like Zweihänder.

Great games for doing gritty, detailed, human-scale games. But *terrible* for doing videogamey or high-fantasy worlds.

@mdhughes @craigmaloney I've not heard anything bad about them since Moondesign took over? The reverse in fact, hiring writers of colour to fix a lot of the older, racist stuff, updating a lot of old adventures to make more sense and be easier for newer players?

Given some of the stuff I heard about Chasosium wasting money on their kickstarters (and I was a bit annoyed when they sent to writers over to Europe without even a clear research plan, even before the rest came out)

@Canageek @craigmaloney Moon Design killed the OpenCthulhu project, and have made a lot of legal threats at everyone else using the public domain works of H.P. Lovecraft, and even Arthuriana which is 500-1200 years out of copyright.

Their "OGL" is literally just a legal contract with no benefit, to keep you from competing with any product they make.

@mdhughes @Canageek They've clarified that you're free to do Cthulhu or Pendragon, just not with their rules. I was on the BRP boards arguing at length with them about this, and while their BRP OGL is pretty terrible for creating derivative works the company has been good about putting things back into print and undoing a lot of damage that previous Chaosium iterations incurred.

That they are working to open things up is different than previous iterations of Chaosium, even if it's tone-deaf.

@mdhughes @Canageek That said if I were making my own BRP I'd sooner choose Legend or license Mythras rather than whatever legal minefield hte BRP OGL is.

I know I'm not going to change your mind about this, and I know that emotions run hot about this, but they've done the work to keep Chaosium from being absorbed into something far less benevolent. They're fans of their products. I'd rather have fans at the helm that give a shit rather than folks who just see some licenses to exploit.

@craigmaloney @Canageek I would rather the old Chaosium had just died with Greg Stafford. Make sure the old products are in some publisher's hands, but don't expect anything official.

It certainly doesn't help that "CoC 7th Ed" is incompatible with 40 years of previous CoC games, even if it's not that hard to convert. That's not stewardship, that's sabotage.

And my level of interest in Glorantha-mythology has always hovered around 0, so new RQ is useless to me, too.

@mdhughes @craigmaloney I disagree based on some of the amazing things I've heard about the writing they are putting out: Chris Spivey's Dead Man Stomp update is supposed to be astoundingly good for example.

And I mean, I play D&D. Systems change. The Call of Cthulhu system was *never* good, the spot rules system was a disaster. It needed so much work, and so much of it was obvious.

@Canageek @craigmaloney I quite liked CoC after about 3E, and 5.5E is a very nice text. Definitely an acquired taste, and people running it as two-fisted adventurers are going to be disappointed.

But thanks to every other d100 game, I don't need them anymore. Design Mechanism's Lyonesse is so very lovely, something old or new Chaosium'd never be able to make.

@mdhughes @Canageek And that's the beauty of the journey that RuneQuest had. Were it not for Mongoose then The Design Mechanism wouldn't exist. Had Greg Stafford not signed off on the OGL (which is still under debate) then we couldn't have nice things from multiple folks. Through pain and destruction we get creation. As it ever was.

@craigmaloney @Canageek There's plenty of ways to get creation without being dicks.

My last game was super-variant D20. I'm currently working on a non-D20-based game that'll either be CC or OGL, and a "this is how I interpret original D&D" game using OGL. WotC doesn't care at all as long as we follow very generous license terms, and they just made all the money in the industry on 5E (not at all to my taste, but eh).

@mdhughes @Canageek Quick reminder that WoTC also tried to walk back the OGL with the GSL until nobody but a handful of publishers took them up on it.

I'm surprised that 5e was OGL to be honest. The trending there was not in its favor.

@craigmaloney @Canageek Sure, 4E was an atrocity all around. 3E was run by one of the uber-dicks of the industry, Dancey, to be a weapon against indie game devs, which backfired badly. But even at worst, they didn't get close to suing over PD material. One supplement a buddy made had to put a sticker over the "D20™" logo, which they shoulda known better.

WotC still have their dumb "DM Guild" thing but you can just blow that off and never interact with them.

@Canageek @craigmaloney Charlie Krank's stewardship of Chaosium was kind of benevolent neglect and dumbassery, but some fantastic products came out in his time, like Magic World and Advanced Sorcery, and a lot of monographs.

@Canageek this echoes my love of Burning Wheel characters. You can help but have a textured character.

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