Simple GURPS In Thaarl?

Last night, I recorded a chat with GMShadow from the Shadow of the GM podcast about what I term, “Simple GURPS”. During the conversation, I was reminded of my early GURPS megadungeon game, “Dungeons of Thaarl”. All day today, the idea of bringing those two ideas together has been niggling at my brain so I thought I would post about it here.

The short version is easy: GMShadow (aka Barry) and I feel that GURPS desperately needs an extremely simple introductory dungeon-style adventure game designed to overcome the very real, if largely imagined, barriers to getting started with that game system. Both of us have been tinkering with ideas for months and the conversation was long overdue.

For us, the work of the late “Mook” Wilson was inspiring. Revisiting older editions, we realised that GURPS has not always been the deeply-rendered and option-filled system that it is today. Back at the beginning, there was room for random characters and Mook’s key gift to us was the idea of jettisoning points-based character creation when onboarding new players.

In my mind, the idea of offering my friends and curious onlookers an Open Table megadungeon game powered by GURPS but utilising a framework of Simple GURPS feels exciting. As I noted back in December, there’s sound reason to build and keep an Open Table in your back pocket and I’ve always had a soft-spot for megadungeons. In fact, if you look back, it was megadungeons that inspired my podcast in the first place.

Which brings me to Thaarl, the megadungeon game I first unleashed back around 2019. I loved the concept of the dungeon itself and it seems a perfect fit for a project to test out our Simple GURPS ideas. Weirdly, with all the talk of Dungeon23 this year, there’s a kind of general megadungeon vibe out there that is heart-warming. It’s tempting me to dust off those old notebooks and find a way to reopen the gates to Thaarl for a pick-up Open Table offering.

And there’s a weird sense that, with all that’s going on for me right now, that this is a distraction. Perhaps so… but, then again, I am learning to allow my creativity space to wander every now and then. Who knows how deep Thaarl might be?

Game on!


    • I can see how you might think that, especially as that was my assumption before I played both GURPS and TFT again. There are significant similarities but they are not the same game, however. Also my point with this post was finding a way to introduce new players to GURPS in an easy way. I can always play TFT if the mood takes us. 😉


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