*exhales* Ok. I think I’m ready to chat about this a bit. First, if you don’t know Steve Jackson Games has a new kickstarter for the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game. It’s here. You should back it. I’ve backed it (because of course I backed it).
So first, let’s talk about the campaign. On the surface it’s about a new book – Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2 – underneath . . . it’s about GURPS itself (at least, that’s how I read it). The new book is cool and shiny and takes a direction I like as far as art goes. Art and GURPS have seemingly forever been tangled up in blue, because as the poet said “Papa’s bank book wasn’t big enough, And I was standin’ on the side of the road.” Monsters 2 didn’t do custom art, instead, the Powers That Be decided to use stock art from a single art. This was a SMART decision and a bit meta. It shows the flexibility of the system while keeping costs down “You can make any monster you can find easily in GURPS/DFRPG!” And that’s true. You can. But it also meant that art could be accessed quickly allowing for the book to come together faster.
But whether goest GURPS? DFRPG is GURPS stripped down to a happy medium of rules and fluff and bolted onto the most popular RPG genre: Fantasy. GURPS fans might not like to hear that, but it’s true. Fantasy RPGs are the dominant market and that’s not going to change any time soon. I like to think of the DFRPG as a bit of a bellwether – it tells me where the wind is blowing for GURPS itself. Right now, the wind seems to be blustery and it’s got me a bit worried. Go read this post by Sean Punch (the Line Editor for GURPS) here (for Facebook) or here (for LiveJournal). Read it? Good. This kickstarter is as Sean said a “litmus test” to determine what else they might do with GURPS.
At best, that means we get to keep slouching toward Bethlehem with 1-2 PDFs every month. Probably short ones (~16ish pages) with one or two bigger ones (~48ish pages) per year. Maybe something bigger every couple of years No more hardbacks. No more licenses. And you know what? I’d be happy with that. I’d be ok with the fact that they are still supporting one of the oldest RPG game systems out there.
But at worst? At worst, the Powers That Be decide that GURPS and its derivatives are no longer worth supporting. Then GURPS ends up on the trash heap of the RPGs That Were But Are No More. No more official support. No more books. Just what the (vibrant) fan community can put together. That is a terrible place for a system like GURPS to end up. GURPS has never gotten a fair shake from the hobby for the most part. It’s the best kept secret in RPGs. People who play it even once tend not to play other RPGs because GURPS can usually do all that it can and more.
Overall, I don’t think we’re there yet. We have time to right the ship that is our beloved GURPS. The Kickstarter is very likely to fund – we’re 3/4 of the way there (or thereabouts) and we’ve got 10 days left to go so I’m hopeful. But I’m also cautious. Gamers can be fickle beasts who want quality, but won’t pay for it. Sure, you’ll buy $50 of shots on a night out, but not $50 worth of gaming books – because that’s a bridge too far. Hell, I’ve done this before myself, but now is not the time to be frugal. Tighten the belt up gamer friends. Tighten the belt and put money in the pot. Back this book and reprint and back it now.