OK. I must admit that I am a multifaceted fanboy. I like genre film and television, especially when it portrays the likes of Spike, Buffy, Constantine, and Abigail Whistler. And, as well, I like GURPS, the Generic Universal Role Playing System put out by Steve Jackson Games. Yes, dearly beloved, there is more to Steve Jackson Games than just Munchkin. Now in its fourth incarnation — sorry, edition — GURPS is run under the benign and enlightened stewardship of Sean “Dr. Kromm” Punch and Jason “PK” Levine.
Which means that the release of a new series of resource books entitled Monster Hunters has me, to put it politely, enthused. So far only the first two books have been released, namely Monster Hunters 1: Champions and Monster Hunters 2: The Mission, with Monster Hunters 3: The Enemy and Monster Hunters 4: Sidekicks slated to follow shortly. Like a large number of GURPS related material, these books are published exclusively in a PDF format.
Akin to the previously released GURPS Dungeon Fantasy and GURPS Action gaming supplements, the new series, written by Jason “PK” Levine, is focused upon the fun and gritty business of modern-day, high-powered monster hunting, with a strong emphasis on cinematic action.
Much like Dungeon Fantasy and Action, the idea is that all you need is the GURPS Basic Set (Characters and Campaigns), and Monster Hunters, and you’ve got everything you need to run a game that emulates Buffy (tVS), Supernatural, Blade, Resident Evil, Underworld, Night Watch, Vampire$, Van Helsing, Constantine, or The Prophecy.
The first book, Monster Hunters 1: Champions, focuses upon the serious business of generating a player character. This is done in two phases, with players first determining their player character’s motivation, and then moving on to fleshing out the character’s various attributes. There are character templates, as well as a list of suggested traits if a player wants to free-form character generation.
However, the real gem (so far for me), is in the new genre-specific magic system. Whereas GURPS Magic is based on a standardized list of spells, with some spells requiring the prerequisite learning of others, the new Ritual Magic Path approach allows for gameplay to incorporate a more free-form flavor of spellcasting. This enables players to improvise, as opposed to choosing from a predetermined “menu.” This looks, frankly, somewhere between dynamic and (from a GMing perspective) scary. But at the very least it bodes for very interesting game play.
All of this has been followed up with Monster Hunters 2: The Mission, which covers advice for players on the relationship between specific player character traits and game related tasks, and for game masters on how to make a game fun and “interesting” for players. It also includes advice on streamlining the gathering of evidence during gameplay, with a new “deduction-based” investigation system. It is simpler than it sounds, I assure you.
Given that I am a GURPS player and game master, so far I am finding both of these books incredibly useful. And without a doubt, I am looking forward to the release of the next two supplements, which deal with the foes that players can encounter (along with their strengths, weaknesses, and motivations), and extra cannon fodder… err, non player characters… that can assist the player characters in their noble quest.
If you are already a GURPS aficionado and are fan of the genre, I strongly suggest that you look at getting these, possibly along with GURPS Loadouts: Monster Hunters, for all your player character esoteric equipment needs, and GURPS Creatures of the Night1-4, for a host of beasties that can confound and possibly assist your players.
If you are not familiar with GURPS, I suggest you check these books out anyway, and then download and print the free GURPS Lite rules. With a modicum of tweaking, this should suffice for running a fun-filled game inclusive of the surreal, the esoteric, and the dispatching of the stuff of myth and nightmares.
Wired: What would Buffy do? She’d dust these beasties with a handful of 3d6.
Tired: GURPS is not everyone’s cup of roleplaying tea.
Disclosure: Geek Dad received review copies from Steve Jackson Games.