I’m currently having one of the most joyful experiences in life, that of learning something new that you also discover you are falling in love with. In my case, it’s the GURPS Basic Set Third Edition (Revised) rulebook. Even better than that, a good friend sent me an unwanted hardcover copy of that very rulebook – who could ask for more?
There’s a lot to learn with any new roleplaying game and even though I have been messing around part-time with GURPS Fourth Edition for five years, I had not really penetrated much beyond the very basics. The switch to GURPS Third Edition has unleashed a whole sequence of exciting experiments with the rules and the joy that comes with learning.
The first thing to say is that I have found the layout and style of the older edition of the game to be far more accessible. The quirky black-and-white art, the easy-to-read font, the use of sidebars, and the relatively friendly tone of the writing all make it accessible. Being ADHD, I am much more able to skip around this book and re-read it as I need to answer questions because it’s so well referenced.
Setting myself the goal of working out how to introduce new players to GURPS using this version of the rules, starting with GURPS Lite Third Edition, has also catalysed my own deeper learning about the game. For example, now that I am using the game for the Simple Dungeon GURPS adventures, I am delving deeper into systems such as the Magic chapter.
One of the most exciting things about learning is when you screw stuff up at the table. Many people don’t like getting things wrong but I find that, at least in gaming, I enjoy this experience because I know that my mind will respond by being far more likely to remember next time. Having a go and getting things wrong is how learning largely seems to work. The more “right” I thought I was, the more likely I am to remember next time when it turns out I was “wrong”.
For me, the complex nuances of a game like GURPS take time to absorb. I need to play and play again. Messing up rules and correcting those errors is all part of the process. Each new piece of learning sparks the dopamine release in my brain and rewards me for my efforts. This brings a sense of accomplishment and joy. That’s what drives my love for this game!
Putting ourselves on the line, running the games we want to play, that is what leads us to growth as gamers. New challenges and seeking depth from the games we are running is a large part of why roleplaying has become my passion over the past 40 or so years. It’s easy to forget that returning to the game, running the game, introducing our friends to that game is what makes the learning joyful.