Disclosure - Earlier in the week, Hunter Shelburne, Community Manager over at Steve Jackson Games, inquired if SJG could submit an article to The Tavern regarding The Dungeon Fantasy RPG (powered by GURPS). I said "send it over and if deemed appropriate we'd run it." We'll I think it's an informative article regarded The Dungeon Fantasy RPG Kickstarter, a project I have already backed for $50 and we are "running it." No recompense of any sort was offered with the submitted article, no recompense of any sort was requested nor would any have been accepted. - erik tenkar
What Do We Find in the Chest?
By Matt Riggsby
GURPS has long had a reputation as the Lego-brand bricks of gaming: you can do anything with it, but you have to put the pieces together yourself. It’s actually easy to play once you get to the table (the whole of GURPS boils down to “roll this number or less on 3d6”), but it can be a lot of work to get you there. The Dungeon Fantasy RPG, Powered by GURPS gets you to the table, with complete dungeon-crawling rules in a single box.
The Dungeon Fantasy RPG contains five slim volumes, covering character generation, adventuring, spellcasting, monsters, and an adventure, and requires no other books. The emphasis is on playing this particular game, not on being all things to all gamers. Part of it is the stripped-down rules set, distilled from the mature, battle-tested GURPS Fourth Edition rules. That doesn’t mean incomplete. Considering the starting point, “stripped down” is still comprehensive, but it’s just rules for fantasy, including what’s useful (monsters, spells) and excluding what isn’t (lasers, automobiles).
Just as important, it provides guidance on how to use those rules for both players and GMs. For example, professions – guided menus for building character types (wizards, warriors, etc.) – don’t abandon you to a list of traits. They provide advice on how to shape the character you want: pick these skills from a short list to make your thief a burglar or those for a stealthy killer. The volume on monsters kicks off with detailed advice on ways PCs can deal with them, only one of which is doing a Leroy Jenkins, and then detailed advice on ways GMs can use monsters against heroes. You don’t have to be a veteran for this.
And there are more subtle aspects which make it an easy-to-use product. Breaking the set into five books rather than one or two means there’s more to pass around at the table. If you’re in a group where most players don’t own the rules, it makes a real difference. There’s no math more complicated than a little multiplication. And professions, which GURPS players will recognize as templates, are reformatted for easier reading.
Finally, it performs a remarkable balancing act, retaining the flexibility of GURPS while remaining true to the specific nature of the game. If you want to build a unique character from scratch, the rules are all there, and still compatible with the rest of the GURPS rules universe. But you don’t have to go there.
If you tried GURPS but left because of the pre-game overhead, this is what to come back to. If you’ve heard of GURPS but were overwhelmed by the size of it, this is where to get on. If you just want a fantasy game that has robust, flexible rules that let you do – or at least try – anything you think you should be able to, and maybe even has some reality checking lurking in the background, this is the one to try. Everything you need is in that box.