Sunday, October 5, 2014
Book Review: GURPS Template Toolkit 1: Characters
GURPS Template Toolkit 1: Characters on the outside looks like a book produced by a writer for a writer. It's essentially a manual on how to use a single aspect of GURPS (occupational templates) correctly. From how to format it to what a template might be - it's all there. First, if you plan on writing for Steve Jackson Games and intend to submit something with templates you need this book. It takes the style guide and distills down the "how" into the "why." How you are a student of martial arts, philosophy, gaming design, or just plain insightful you understand exactly how profound this is. Second, it's a crunch-heavy book - as it should be, it's about creating templates for your players. This might turn off some potentially buyers, but before you put your wallets away let me extoil its virtues (I think I covered where it falls short out adequately above):
Template Bible: It has a comprehensive (and I mean exacting) look at templates down to the finest detail. If you're a GM or worldbuilder or one of the nuts and bolts tinkerers who use GURPS as a exercise in the imagination this is extremely valuable. For example, what's the difference between a occupational role like "soldier" and a dramatis personae role like "screaming victim?" (If you answered about a 100 points, this is me punching you in...hard) Well, besides the point value the differences are pretty profound. A solider is what your character is, while a screaming victim is the role that he plays. It's like nine kinds of meta with a dash of six degrees tossed on top. This book can help you think like a world designer, even if that doesn't come natively to you.
Attribute/Skill Levels: There has been so much debate about this on the forums. "Anything above attribute 16 is not human, but ST!" <--- that's one of my favorites. I can't exactly judge because I do tend to look very hard at a concept that requires attributes above 16...but I don't outright ban them. Most times I ask "Hey, can a Talent suffice rather than high level?" and many times it will. In the old 3rd edition book there was a chart telling you what each level of a attribute meant, they basically brought this back and I for one love it. Having a benchmark on what skill level you need where is invaluable.
"Everyman" Skills: This too has come up on the forums before and Kromm answered with pretty much the same damn list that's in the book. But in the book he expanded on his thoughts in such a way that buying the book is stilll work it if you come seeking the list.
Overall, it's worth the price of admission and I give GURPS Template Toolkit 1: Characters a full five our of five pennies. What's on the cover is what's in the book and it is damn well written. We need more stuff like this covering other odds and ends. GURPS is the ultimate in "toolbox" RPGs, but more advice on how to use those tools never hurts.