Monday, October 20, 2014
Book Review: How to be a GURPS GM
Not everything that Steve Jackson Games releases for GURPS has a "GURPS" title - this has caused its own little schism amongst its players "Pyramid isn't an official supplement because it doesn't have GURPS in the title!" ...No. That's just not true. Warren "Mook" Wilson wrote How to be a GURPS GM nearly four years ago with Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch and though it's taken forever to get through the pipeline, it's finally here and boy is it useful. That Other Game has a "DMG" and now so does GURPS. That's right, I said it. Even those who've GMed GURPS for years can get some use out this PDF. It's written in a odd format and reminds me more of an interview between two parties and really that is kind of what it is. This can throw off long-time system users, but is probably the better way to read it for new system users. Chapter One is all about GM prep and making those pre-game decisions that can make or break a campaign. It brings together bits and pieces from earlier books (namely GURPS Supers and Horror) and melds them into a cohesive whole that's easy for anyone to follow - especially new GURPS GMs. I found the "Character Points in Play" especially enlightening. Chapter Two gives you a example of how to tie everything from Chapter One together with a look at adventure preparation. It has a couple of templates and a few other odds and ends, but is almost entirely a worked example - and a good one at that. Chapter Three gives you a checklist you can run down to make sure you have everything you need for you campaign. This I think is the best part of the book as it gives a real, concrete illustration of how GURPS works and what you'll need. Chapters Four and Five give a example of adventure creation and running said adventure and while not useful for experienced GMs, it does illustrate the previous chapter quite well. I would call it highly useful for those new to GURPS though. Chapter Six is all about combat (which some find to be the most difficult thing about GURPS) and it is beautifully written. It tells you damn near everything you could want or need to know about how combat works in GURPS - Mook could not have done a better job. Chapter Seven is actually running the example adventure and again, it might not be useful to experienced GMs, but is perfect for newbie GMs. It's got a useful trait index and a expanded campaign planning form (which I wish we could get in a editable PDF form).
Overall, the book gets four and a half pennies out of five. The content is damn useful and while it is well written, the odd format throws me off just enough to make reading it slightly annoying. This might be a personal issue on my part and the book is still worth getting if you plan on ever GMing GURPS at any point.