Saturday, November 29, 2014

Universal but not Universally Compatible

First, to have any idea what I'm talking about, you'll need to watch Douglas Cole's interview of Hans-Christian Vortisch.

Gaming Ballistics Firing Squad Welcomes Hans-Christian Vortisch

At one point, Douglas and Hans start talking about GURPS Martial Arts: Fairbairn Close Combat Systems. I'm a credited playtester on that one, not the least of which is because the work in that is based on the work Sean Punch and I did in GURPS Martial Arts. But also because I put in a lot of time on the book, reading and commenting and try to help make it the book Hans wanted it to be.

It comes in to "conflict" with GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling, though, in that it says you can do things in a given time that Technical Grappling says takes longer.

Part of this is a fork in the road. FCCS is based on MA and Basic Set. TG is based on MA and Basic Set, but not on MA+Basic+FCCS. The later work takes the raw concepts in Basic Set and the expansions in MA and then says, basically, what if the grappling wasn't binary grappled/not grappled but rather a continuum of control based on an effects roll?

So naturally, some of the things in FCCS don't quite gel with that. FCCS takes real-world combinations from the system covered and then tried to tied them to the (necessarily) abstracted rules of the game and the way the game says things happen. TG changes some of those abstracted rules, expands some, and changes the way some real-world actions play out in the game. So it's hard to trace a line between them.

This isn't a bad thing, but it is a thing. GURPS is fundamentally a toolbox of a game, and it's universal, but all of the parts don't really work together perfectly. Some just aren't meant to ("A Matter of Inches" vs. "Shout It Out", for example) and some just don't because, like FCCS, it went too far down the road of using the basic rules to operate smoothly with something that changes the basic underlying assumptions of the rules it used.

Since so often a complaint is that, basically, Book A Says X, and Book B says Y, so therefore one of them is wrong or we need a Z to unify them . . . but it's not something that is ever going to be achieved, not even if we all had unlimited time to go back and iteratively change our books to reflect all the work of the others.

It all basically works together. As long as you follow the thread of abstraction and recognize that supplements that don't required Other Supplement A or B won't necessarily use the rules in Other Supplement A or B, you'll be fine.

It's universal, but all of the parts aren't meant to mesh together like legos. It's a bit more complex than all of that.


  1. I've had to deal with that a couple of times. For example, anything armor-related in Fantasy-Tech and DF. Low Tech diverges from Basic and conflicts with High Tech in places. But since DF has been established to work with Basic, any armor choices I make come ultimately from there, no matter how nifty LT's armor may be. (FT follows Basic rather than LT simply because FT predates LT on the pub schedule, even though FT was written as a quickie to fill the gap until LT came out.)

    1. Low-Tech might be the best example. To use its armor system would require people own Low-Tech, making it defacto required from now on if all books subsequently chose to use it.

      Instead it stays as on option on the table. Those that like it can usually port in what they like about it without a big problem. Those that don't, can skip it.

      In two places I managed to finagle using the revised weapon damages from Low-Tech, but basically I just put them in, explained the improved damage, and didn't require Low-Tech. The ninja-to in DF12 is one of those, using LT's shortsword damage. But that's an easy addition, easy to ignore, and has zero impact past itself. Imagine the impact if we basically set, okay, from now on, use LT's armor and weapon rules? It would go from "catalog of stuff" to "line-wide replacement for sections of Basic Set" and it was never intended to be the latter.


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