In skimming the second issue of The Path of Cunning I came across Roger Bell_West’s mournful editorial about the simplicity and repulsive reputation of GURPS.
My experience has been a little bit like Roger’s. In 2003 I moved away from Canberra and the remains of my role-playing circles of university days. Seeking players within three hours’ drive of where I now live I found them all playing D&D, which does not float my boat at all. I could not scare up any interest in my favourite RPG, ForeSight, because players could not by any means obtain a copy. It is only fair that they should not be enthusiastic about that. Now, I like to run a wide variety of games in different settings and genres, so in early 2005 I turned to GURPS as a well-supported general-purpose game that was in print.
In the subsequent fifteen years I have been able to recruit players on the Steve Jackson Games forums for PBP and PBVOIP games. Apart from that I have found only three players willing to try GURPS — three who hadn’t heard of it before. We tried it, and they didn’t like it, or didn’t like my GMing, or both. Everyone else that I have encountered, if they have heard of GURPS they refuse to play it, some because of its reputation, some because of prior experience.
In the early days of my exile I used to return to Canberra annually for Phenomenon. Despite ForeSight’s deep obscurity, I could fill five or six seatings of a ForeSight adventure for groups of five. When I offered GURPS I heard crickets.
I still have friends on the Steve Jackson Games forums (also, at Andrew Hackard’s urging, a burgeoning “ignore” list). But I don’t play GURPS any more, and likely never will. And I don’t think my efforts are well spent in, for instance, helping to play-test more GURPS books. Like Roger I could probably hack GURPS down from 570 pages to one line that didn’t bother me with its complexity and disorganisation. But one of the things that would have to go is the name, because I find that in these parts the value of the brand “GURPS” is large and negative.
Most of you will likely disagree when I say that for my taste GURPS needs to be drastically simplified and generalised, and re-organised to be properly modular rather than being presented as a salmagundi of disparate components. I don’t think you can disagree that it ought to fake its own death and start a new life under a different name, wearing a false nose and dark glasses.