One of my favourite things about GURPS Fourth Edition is the templates. They make building characters so much simpler but, even better, they are not that hard to convert from Third Edition either. All you need is the GURPS Basic Set Characters, the GURPS Update document, and your chosen template from an earlier GURPS sourcebook.
I’ve been working on building the characters my players have been imagining for our forthcoming Third Imperium “Serene Dawn” game using GURPS as the underlying rules system. Most of the players are new to both the setting and the rules, so I’ve been working from their descriptions and asking them a bundle of questions.
Once the outline character role has been created, I have been able to grab out my old GURPS Traveller sourcebook to do the builds. Even though the old book is written for Third Edition GURPS, there is a natty GURPS Update document you an download for free to help you make conversions.
Before I started, I imagined that this would be a long and painstaking process but it wasn’t. Most of the GURPS rules are very similar and what has changed lies mostly in the names of Skills, Advantages, and Disadvantages.
The GURPS Update gives you a straight-up conversion guide wherein you look up the old 3e name and it’ll tell you what the new 4e trait is called, then guide you to the page reference in the Basic Set. If there are new rules or other things you need to be aware of, these notes are collected into a reference there too. Simple.
Points costs are different in lots of cases but that isn’t of huge consequence as long as you have some flexibility around how you implement the old templates. My game is 150 points and most of the old templates for Traveller are sub-100 points in old money, so there’s usually a surplus even with some traits being much more costly in GURPS 4e.
Using the excellent GURPS Character Sheet software (available free online, built by fans), I was able to build six characters this morning in just a couple of hours, including time to re-read all the player’s notes and think through how to interpret their intentions. What’s even better is that, given how GURPS templates are not straight-jackets but suggestions, you are free to adjust and tweak each character you build on the fly.
Whoever said that building a GURPS character was hard work? All you need is a strong, clearly described plain-English concept and you can probably find a template to help you. Even if that’s a template from an old supplement, GURPS is ready to advise you by providing the GURPS Update to boot. Lovin’ it!