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GURPS Basic Set: Characters (GURPS: Generic Universal Role Playing System) Hardcover – 1 Sep 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Steve Jackson Games,U.S.; 4th edition (1 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556347294
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556347290
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 1.8 x 27.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 307,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 3 July 2009
I bought this, along with the Gurps Basic Set: Campaigns (GURPS: Generic Universal Role Playing System) source book because I was tired of the other RPG systems I was playing.

The GURPS system is fairly realistic, but can be tailored to be as cinematic as you like. The rules are very flexible and allow you to do almost anything you wish. An imaginative GM will be able to utilise the GURPS system to make any sort of adventure or campaign he wishes.

The book is laid out in an easy-to-read format. Each chapter is colour-coded, so you automatically know where you are in the book when you flip it open to look for something.

Tables and charts are easy to find; the index is very useful; everything has been laid out so that it's easy to read. The illustrations are also of good quality. I would have liked to have seen more artwork, but then the book is big and heavy enough as it is!

This book gives you virtually everything you would need to play a very basic game; to do more than a simplistic hack-and-slash (or shoot-and-loot) run of it, you really need the Campaigns book. Game Masters will find the Campaigns book invaluable, while some Players might even like to flip through it (especially the sections/chapters on detailed and tactical combat, skill usage, templates, and racial templates).

I would definitely recommend this to a friend if they were looking for a good system. It's a solid, well-laid out book, and I've yet to be disappointed by its contents.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Molloy on 29 Dec. 2009
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Excellent book, logically laid out with nice illustrations and the material itself is well thought out and engaging.

The game takes a bit of time to get the hang of. As a person starting out with no previous experience I started by only using the most necessary rules, I found it intuitive after a few practice plays. Reading the books gives you the theory but only in playing it do you realise how it all fits together.

As it's a universal system, the game is only limited by your imagination; though, if your imagination sometimes needs a kick-start (as mine does), you can find a lot of what are called 'source books' that describe numerous genres like fantasy, space and horror.

I think it's one of those games that grows with the player; the more time you invest in it, the more rewarding it becomes.

For those that are unsure, do a web search for GURPS-lite - this is a free, minimal overview of the game and the rules in PDF format - it should allow you to assess if the game is for you.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 19 Feb. 2005
The new GURPS Basic (4th edition) Characters is a very good starting point for most roleplay games. If you have a germ of an idea of what type of character you want, whatever genre, it provides the tools you need to make it - easily.
I bought it (and the accompanying Campaigns book, for GMs/Storytellers) as a present to myself for Christmas, and wasn't disappointed!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 53 reviews
85 of 89 people found the following review helpful
Definitely worth the price 25 Dec. 2004
By Paul O'Connor - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Those of you who don't know about the basic concepts of GURPS should go to the marvelous review that somebody wrote for the 3rd edition basic set.

I'm a game master with 25 years of experience who turned to GURPS about 7 years ago because the game systems I was using didn't support cross-genre play very well. I loved the 3rd edition in spite of its problems, which could be daunting at times. The biggest problems were that the stat generation system encouraged "gaming" the system, there were an awful lot of little loopholes in the skills that the players could exploit, the psionics system was overpowered, and the game system had kind of sprawled over the years. I've got a good group of players and we worked around the problems but kept encountering new ones as we delved further into the world of GURPS.

Enter 4th edition! It solves the gaminess of the stat generation system with such a simple rule I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it. The loopholes in the skills have mostly been resolved (I haven't finished checking them over yet) and the Psionics system has been dumped in favor of a different simpler system that still seems to get the job done. This book sticks with the character generation system so I can't address the rules sprawl issue yet.

I had concerns about spending so much for a single book (I've only gotten Characters so far but I'll be buying Campaigns as soon as the budget allows) but one of the little secrets is that you really aren't buying a single book. The Characters book includes all of the rules from the following 3rd edition books: Basic Set, Compendium I, Martial Arts, Supers, and Psionics. No more digging through multiple books! Furthermore you are saving a lot of money by buying a single book at $23.00 on Amazon vs. buying 5 books at $12.00 each! I also need to congratulate the editors on doing a MUCH better job of organizing the material in this book than the 3rd edition. The use of language is only slightly clearer than in the last version but it is still greatly appreciated.

Another thing that was greatly appreciated was the hardcover format, I'm hard on my roleplaying books and was about to buy another copy of the 3rd edition book when I saw the fourth edition come out. The improved artwork and use of color was also nice.

The sole caveat that I offer is to the GM's who are thinking of converting to 4th edition. I've run a few games and it runs very smoothly but this game system has the potential to be even MORE complicated than the last version. You need to think very carefully about how detailed you want your campaign to be and then STICK WITH IT! The players may well complain bitterly about not being allowed to use all of the little extras that are now available but the game can bog down quickly if you use everything that this system offers. My group of players were pretty insistent until we ran a game with all of the options and it took 10 times longer to generate characters and to resolve a fight scene than normal and it didn't change the results at all.

My sole complaint is that the index is good instead of being GREAT like it was in 3rd edition. Of course it used to take several tries to find the right index in 3rd edition because there were always several books to choose from...

Final note, I HIGHLY recommend getting GURPS Character Assistant, it is does a much better job of remembering all the little ins and outs of the character generation rules and does a much better job of formating the character sheet and... best of all... no more messy handwriting!
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Excellent New Edition 13 Sept. 2005
By J. Oviedo - Published on Amazon.com
Fourth edition is a welcome streamlining and reconsolidation of the sprawling GURPS rules set. It pulls in a lot of material that was previously contained in the 3rd Edition Basic Set, Compendiums, and various world books and puts it together into a new cohesive, and in some places simplified, rules set.

This volume covers all aspects of character building. It does provide all the basic game mechanics and a minimalist coverage of the combat system. So although it does not stand completely alone, it provides all the rules a player would need to know (more detailed rules aimed at game masters are in the Campaigns book).

The power range of characters has been changed. In the past high power characters were somewhat constrained by rules that were aimed at detailed low to mid power levels. But most of those problems have been addressed. For example, one of the sample characters is an AI controlled military robot that is over 1600 character points (this is something that 3rd edition would not have handled as smoothly).

So all in all an enthusiastic *must buy* for this if you are a fan of detailed RPGs. GURPS gives you all the tools for role playing in any setting and the GURPS world books are some of the best around. World-hopping and hard sci-fi campaigns are especially at home with GURPS and now this new edition makes other genres like superheroes and high-powered anime campaigns easier to run.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
A Good New Version 14 Sept. 2005
By Chad Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
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I have been a GURPS player for many years now. I have enjoyed the system and the level of realism, or lack thereof, the GM could want or need. But, as systems grow, they can get klunky. GURPS 3e had become weighed down by expansions and rules additions from the ennumerable books that had been released. 4e has cleaned up the rules and placed them down in a more consistent manner and fixed "mistakes" of the old version. I was hesitant to buy the new version, given my library of 3e material, but I am happy with my purchase. I have played with the new rules and the changes have been a good thing. I would recommend to all GURPS 3e players to give the new version a chance.
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
A nice improvement over 3rd edition. 12 Nov. 2006
By Adam Griffith - Published on Amazon.com
The idea behind GURPS is that it provides a set of core rules that can be adapted to any setting (thus the "universal" part of General Universal Role-Playing). It does a good job of this, although it is better suited to a somewhat more realistic feeling than heroic wackiness. A human isn't going to take too many sword hits and shrug them off.

The strong point of GURPS is character generation. Players are allotted a number of points to build their characters, and may buy characteristics, skills and "Advantages" (things like the ability to use magic, being wealthy, or any of hundreds of other things), and may get additional points by taking "Disadvantages."

This new 4th edition is in by far most ways an improvement over 3rd edition. They closed a lot of loopholes and fixed a number of less-than-optimal things. I like the changes to combat especially.

There are a couple of things I would have done differently.

1) They took the skills out of psionics (and every other supernatural system, for that matter), making it purely advantage based, but they left magic as skill based. They really should have made each magic spell into an advantage too, because now it's not as well balanced with the rest of the system as it could be. Couple this with the fact that you can now take IQ at 10 points a level if you don't take the associated Will and Perception, and you can easily have a Wizard character with an IQ of 17 or so in a 100 point campaign, who can buy spells at a very high skill level with 1 point.

2) They should have dumped the "earn character points through study" system. Yes, it's easy to just ignore it, but if you get stuck with a GM who goes by the book you may very well find yourself wasting a lot of time with tedious accounting issues.

4th edition institutes a good set of rules that allows the GM to create powers and abilities by modifying Advantages with an extensive set of Enhancements and Limitations. This is really nice for the workaholic GM, but the GM who lacks huge amounts of free time is going to be hoping for supplements with a lot of sample powers worked out for him or her.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Freedom, with a bit of work 7 Dec. 2009
By M. Azar - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I first heard about the Generic Universal Role Playing System (GURPS) back in 2005. At the time, I was already playing Dungeons & Dragons as well as d20 Modern, so despite the endorsements this system received, I pretty much mentally brushed it aside.

Fast forward to 2007. I somehow start thinking about GURPS again, and manage to take a look at the Characters book with a more objective frame of mind. I suddenly become *very* intrigued, even joining the Steve Jackson Games forum to see what Game Masters/players were churning out. This time, I was impressed, but still not ready to try another pencil and paper roleplaying game.

And then it was early 2009. I hear about GURPS from another set of gamers, and once again returned to the forum. After quite a bit of reading, I was sold, and so ordered both main books on Amazon.

I was happy I did.


GURPS, unlike most pencil and paper roleplaying games out there, does not truly have it's own "setting". While it's true there is a potential for campaigns with the included information on Infinite Worlds, the actual mechanics of the system do not assume the user is going to solely play action, fantasy, horror, romance, science-fiction or whichever genre(s) they prefer.

No, GURPS truly is Generic. This can both be a positive and a negative. The former, because the included variety does cater to whatever you wish to play, and the latter, because it takes effort from everyone involved to actually *use* the correct combination of game mechanics within to reach the desired effect. It really helps to have a campaign idea in mind before opening either book.

Also, GURPS uses the point-buy method of character generation (much like Mutants & Masterminds, New World of Darkness, Shadowrun, etc), rather than level-based (d20 Modern, Dungeons & Dragons, Spycraft, etc). This can be a little disorienting for those that are beginners to RPGs in general, but quickly makes up for that shortcoming with amazing on-the-fly versatility: you can conceivably play a 500 point character that is superscience inventor, yet a terrible combatant and a 100 point character that is a legendary swordsman, but not fully grown yet.

It should be noted that this system starts off at a fairly "realistic" level of mortality: a 9mm bullet to the head probably will kill the average man, knives do more damage to the neck and suffering a crippled leg will mean the character in question may spend months recovering. I greatly enjoyed this, not only because it means *where* you attack is as important as what you use, but also because I don't have to work my way backwards from a larger-than-life set of rules.

And yet, with the myriad of Advantages (traits that benefit the character), Skills, and optional rules, you can indeed play a John McClane type character that rides fireballs on a daily basis. Is this perfect? Not entirely. There is a point where the granularity in choice can both hinder and fail to represent certain characters, such as high tier superheroes (think Superman, Green Lantern or Phoenix). The Powers and Supers supplements go a fair way towards mitigating this concern, but I still would use GURPS for mostly street level superheroes.

Combat is very engaging. The inclusion of hit locations (Head, Neck, Vitals, Arms, etc) means that a highly skilled character (Skill 16+) can end a fight quickly if their opponent can't adequately defend themselves or that even an amateur (Skill 9-11) has a chance at winning. Skills truly do matter here, as there is no automatic assumption of combat experience without them.

Social skills are numerous (Diplomacy, Intimidation, Fast-Talk, Sex Appeal, Streetwise among others) and there are quite a few ways to both boost them and penalize them (Charisma, attractiveness, Disturbing Voice, Odious Personal Habits, etc). With enough skill, you can con someone out of their clothes (though this is usually very cinematic!) or find out where the local crime lord hides.

One more thing that I have to say, and it's about the GURPS community: i've seen campaigns ranging from Redwall to A Song of Fire And Ice to the Civil War to Pulp Heroes to Sliders to modern day military to the near future and even Star Wars. It's just that adaptable.

Ultimately, if you're willing to invest some creative energy into the system, you will be pleasantly surprised. Just don't tackle everything all at once ;-).
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