I’ve noticed that my mood has dipped over the past few days and because I know that, “the opposite of play… is depression“, I’ve decided to break out my GURPS Basic Set and play something. The problem is that when I sat down to play, I really had no idea what to do.
I’ve been contemplating the idea of running a low-points GURPS fantasy campaign for quite some time now. Basically, I am really bored with the uber-powered D&D style of play and would like to mess around with characters who are merely competent townsfolk.
This is reminiscent of the experience of roleplaying I had way back at the beginning of my hobby, when we set out upon the road to glorious achievement with a dagger and barely two copper pennies to rub together.
Looking in GURPS Basic Set Campaigns, I’ve decided to set my starting character out with 50 points and a maximum allowance of 20 points for disadvantages, plus the usual 5 points for quirks. This sets the power level at, “Competent: anyone who would have a clear edge over average people”. To top it off, I am going to set a limit of 14 for Attributes, making “exceptional” the best a starting character can be.
I am imagining a port town or small city. Because this is a game that is being made to suit my penchant for low-level play, intended to get me going with some solo play, I also decide to indulge my fantasies about Bronze Age Greece. Let’s imagine the characters are street-level commoners in a Bronze Age (TL1) fantasy world. I’ll say that magic is possible but very rare and I’ll use the GURPS Magic rules if that becomes important. The campaign will be set upon The Dark Archipelago and the port town is called Aegegion.
If we’re going to play GURPS, we need a strong character concept so that spending those 50 character points has some focus. I like playing thieves and characters with generally questionable morals. This is because my real life requires me to be a paragon of virtue (yes, try not to laugh) and this is roleplaying where you can be anything you want. I don’t really want to live as a street thug but it might be fun to play one in a game.
Let’s create a port town street thief named Bakkhos (which means, “noisy” or “riotous”).
I open up GURPS Character Sheet and set to building my character. I begin by making him Poor [-15] because I want this guy to be living hand-to-mouth on the streets. This sets his starting wealth at 1/5 of the usual level, giving him only $100. From here, I decide to equip him because that will help narrow down the skills I need to buy.
Sticking with Basic Set Characters, I decide that owning a large knife and some brass knuckles seems like a good place to start. He’ll grab some cloth armour too, plus a small pouch to put the personal stuff in and some “personal basics”. With only $5 left – which I’ll call “copper coins” – he can’t even afford some sandals. Maybe that’s the first thing to aspire to owning?
He needs the Knife and Brawling skills to be able to make the most of those weapons. Conceptually, I want him to have Stealth so he can sneak around and I give him Forced Entry for making less-than-subtle intrusions. I imagine him as a bit of a street thug, I suppose. Which means he’s probably got some Streetwise and Carousing skill too.
I decide he’s going to be above-average with Strength and Dexterity both at 12. Not being entirely happy with Basic Speed at 5.5, I up it to 6 for 10 points. That’s ok because I have 5 points of Quirks and a 5-point Disadvantage open to use. For the Disadvantage, I feel that Code of Honour (Pirate’s) sounds fun and grab that. The quirks are Nosy, Imaginative, an Expression (“By the Gods!”), Proud, and Likes Coin.
Now I’m ready to play and, hey, I have five copper coins in my pouch!
I’ve been in an similar vein recently. I got sucked into the One D&D stuff, then thought maybe Pathfinder 2, but actually, I got out a notebook and started writing down some stuff for a Neolithic (TL0) low fantasy setting involving struggles to survive in a world with very primal gods. Feels awesome to be setting it up. Now I just need time and players. But, back to your point, I feel you on the getting away from the superpowered characters. I think I want a fantasy setting that feels more grounded.
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Sounds great that you are on the TL0 Neolithic vibe – I too have been drawn to that era for many months! Maybe I could come play in your game..? But, yes, low-power is much more interesting and challenging.
One really useful resource for low-point games is GURPS Historical Folks (get both the 4E conversion and the original version for 3E, as the latter includes all of the descriptive text; note that you’ll have to use PK’s mirror of the earlier version, as the home site seems to be down).
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Thanks for reminding me of this. I have the file for 4e for sure, so that’s a good shout.
[…] begin my solo game with Bakkhos, I have decided to play through “All In a Night’s Work”, the solo adventure designed for […]