Friday, December 13, 2013

My Players & GURPS Calvinball

There is a real downside to playing a GURPS game with a GURPS author.

One of my players said this last game - "It's like playing Calvinball."

Well, not exactly - it's not like we only use a rule once. It's quite the opposite.

But when I make a ruling, it often really becomes a published rule.

Oh sure, Rule Zero - the GM's will trumps the books. So to some extent their experience isn't unusual.

But it's still a bit different when you're playing with a game author. The rule books can really back him, because even if they don't now, they will later. The joke is basically this:

Player: "Hey Peter, can I do [blah blah blah]?"
Me: "No."
Player: "Does it say anything about that?"
Me: "Uh . . . hold on. [type type type type]. Yes, right here, in the latest GURPS release! It says you can't do that."

My rulings don't just stay as table rulings, but so much of what going into my game is reflected in my writing for the game.

Plenty of stuff my players like went into my books. Monsters they'd created by off-hand remark (Leaping Leeches!) Perks for their characters like Flawless Fast-Draw. Rulings that favored the way we played.

But just as often rulings I made that undid rules abuses they'd found. "Let's use Telegraphic Attack to get skill 16+ and max out our critical chances!" "No, let me fix that."

Me, this makes me happy. It means they're getting that "D&D with Gygax" thing going - the actual published rules can and will reflect the crap they have to put up with having me as the GM. I just don't call out specific players by name (Jim!) like he did in his books . . . except when I do, by using their characters as names on the rules aimed at or for them. I'm liking the comparison to Calvinball.


  1. My players are equally dismayed/happy when I say "Nope. This doesn't work. TIme to fix it" or "Why aren't they're rules for X?" and I say "Hmm. Why *aren't* there rules for X?" and then make some - all of which usually ends up in a Pyramid article. ;-)

    1. Pretty much what happens with me. Although, lately you've seen a lot more "speed up play" and "let DFers kick more ass" kind of stuff from me. But yeah, what in another group might be house rules becomes just, well, the rules as written.

  2. This just shows to go you that authors need gaming groups.

    Have to get our lab rats somewhere, and real ones are expensive.

    1. The real ones demand food instead of bringing their own snacks to game. ;)

  3. Wait, are ALL the commenters on this blog GURPS writers?

    1. That's true, I guess I'm here at least. Complete other end of the spectrum, never played GURPS at all, haha.


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