Blue Room GURPS: A GURPS Page By S. John Ross

Unlimited Mana | Gunmetal Blue | Gamer Fonts | Links


I've organized the material here by broad category, in a way that made sense at the time.
This means that it's pretty much Random Access. So am I.

My GURPS Books

While I'm no longer writing GURPS books professionally (I do my own thing these days!), I managed to slip in a few doozies when I was (you'll also find me lurking in the credits as a contributor to several that I wasn't a primary author on). The following are the GURPS titles where I'm credited on the front cover:

  • GURPS Russia was the company's first-ever experiment with direct-only marketing, but after a while (and after Dragon magazine called it "quite a bit better than the average GURPS historical sourcebook") it also became available in game-shops. It was the first GURPS book I ever wrote, and it's still my personal favorite. My Designer's Notes will tell you more about it, and for more Russia, try my Outtakes Page and Hedge Magic. I've even prepared an extensive DTA file for users of Bill Seurer's excellent Makechar software.
  • GURPS Grimoire was first drafted by Daniel Thibault. As the original author of the Tech College and all-around magic-lovin' dude, I was invited to "doctor" the second draft, and took the opportunity to make sure that spells like Decapitation saw the light of day (and that spells like "Darkbolt" didn't).
  • GURPS Warehouse 23 is probably the first worldbook for any game system to adapt the closing credits of a major motion picture. Of course the Ark is there. And my designer's notes are here! Heck, even my file of top-secret annotations are around here somplace! Heck, there's even a recipe page for it!
  • GURPS Black Ops is the creation of Jeff Koke, with embellishments and lots of additional text (about half of the final book) by Yours Truly (I did chapter 4 on). I'm proud to have been Jeff's coauthor. It is the one and only Truly Badass GURPS book, and the only one with hot weasel heads! I've also written a character creation variant for those (like me) who don't like those Truly Bigass skill lists in the character templates.
Signature GURPS Articles

If you came here looking for a specific article, odds are it's one of these fan favorites, the "signature pieces" I keep getting email about. If you're new to Blue Room GURPS and just browsing, these are a good place to start.

  • Take It To The Limit: The infamous Unlimited Mana was first published by SJ Games in Pyramid #9, and has been very popular ever since, netting me many hundreds of emails and recently earning the highest rating of any article voted on by the readership (thanks, gang)! Craig Roth (my official Web Archivist) was good enough to take initiative to get the necessary permission to bring Umana to the Web, and I've kept the article updated and spiffy for him - the Craig copy of Unlimited Mana is the definitive version, and SJ Games used it when they reprinted the article in the second Best of Pyramid collection. There are others, though, for your amusement: You can see Umana as it first appeared in Pyramid, courtesy of the archive samples, and even as it was before it first appeared (when it was in AotA). You can also read it in German, French, or Japanese (it's been tranlated into Portuguese and Italian as well, but the Web being the mercurial thing that it is, I don't know where those have gone to).
  • Go Over the Top: The Action-Movie articles ("Gunmetal Blue") are for those who don't always need to drag the tired old Laws of Physics into their campaigns! They include the infamous Truly Badass advantage (in "Beyond the Grip of Realism"). Go give 'em a look, and feel the cordite fumes in your nostrils. You can also read "Grip" in French as Hollywood, quand tu nous tiens. And, of course, Oltre la stretta della Realtà is the Italian version. Vero Bastardo!
  • Carry An Extra Power Cell: The Tech Magic and More Tech Magic articles appeared in issues #3 and #17 of Pyramid, respectively, back in the paper days. The former can now be found in GURPS Grimoire, with chunks of the both included in Dave Pulver's excellent GURPS Technomancer.
  • Sell Guns to Space Aliens: These Two Unfinished Space Articles are about playing the life of a galactic merchant, and building an interstellar navy (and things). They fit together so well, I called them done. Recently, the authors of GURPS Traveller: Far Trader wrote me a nice email explaining how useful they found it when writing their book! Thanks, guys!
  • Get Wise: The Hedge Magic rules are a simple system for "village-scale" sorcery. They are low-powered but very flexible. I wrote them to accompany GURPS Russia, but they'd make a good addition to any low-tech fantasy game. Hedge Magic, in a very short time, has already begun to approach Unlimited Mana in terms of generated email and secondary related material on the Web! I'm sure there will be an Italian version sometime. Update: Sure enough, there is now an Italian version.
  • Kick Ass, Take Names: The GURPS Gladiator Rules and GURPS Gladiator II (the rules for wizards) turn GURPS into a stand-alone combat boardgame! Also, there's tons of premade gladiators so you can just print and play (they make useful "grunts" in a fantasy campaign, too). I frequently run Gladiator tournaments at cons, and it never fails to get the blood pumping hot. Good fun! ADDED: download a cool little PDF gladiator arena map by clicking here.
My GURPS Character Sheet

I'm a big fan of character sheets that fit on just one side of a sheet of paper. I'm also a big fan of a long-dead third-party AD&D sheet from the early 1980's. In a mood that defies explanation beyond that, I combined them into a very spiffy GURPS Character Sheet which you may enjoy. When I run Classic-Era GURPS, this is the sheet we use at our table.

More Articles!

Over the years, I've written a large handful of articles for GURPS, ranging from expansions on the concepts in the Basic Set to whole-cloth rules variants. This list is constantly growing . . .

  • These Spells for a GURPS Space Game were on Craig's site forever and I never linked to them. Egad, I can be a dork. They're spells. For a GURPS Space game.
  • The GURPS Library: Rated is just what it sounds like: Written to help the many newcomers who ask me "Is GURPS book X worth getting?" this is my quick-rating guide to just about every GURPS book there was at the time I assembled it (it's a little moldy, now, but it includes most of the must-haves).
  • The Carmaker's Cribsheet is a quick (but oh-so-helpful) resource for making your GURPS Autoduel cars easier to build, and more like their Car Wars counterparts.
  • And speaking of GURPS Autoduel, this Car Wars item of mine, the Sonic Cannon, has GURPS stats provided by master gizmomancer David Pulver. It's Official Car Wars, AADA-approved.
  • When I was asked to write some notes on the design of GURPS Russia, I could only call it Medieval Moscow Blues.
  • The Whimsey Magic rules bring the old W.O.W. (Wand of Whimsey or Wand of Wonder, depending on which game you're talking about) to GURPS. How did you get along without this before?
  • The Fighting With Your Hands Full article is a brief collection of combat maneuvers for fightes who prefer weapons and shields to bare-handed shenanigans. Why should the judoka have all the fun? Clearly, the Italians agree.
  • The page of Unsorted Advantages and Disadvantages isn't really an article at all, just a kind of random bin of stuff. It will change periodically as I toss in things from my local games. And while we're on the subject, click here for one of my smallest contributions to Roleplayer, the Favor advantage (now in the GURPS Basic Set).
  • The Elemental Magic article is a simple improv-only magic system for GURPS; it hasn't appeared anywhere except my local campaign (and, naturally, in Italy), but it's been playtested to be fully cross-compatible with normal GURPS magic and Unlimited Mana.
  • The In Nomine to GURPS Conversions were contracted, written, and approved as an appendix in the In Nomine core book, but at the last minute they were cut for space. These are (contrary to recent errors on the SJ Games website) official, but they are no longer the current standard, having been supplanted by the newer (more complex) GURPS In Nomine rulebook.
  • This article, A Matter of Principle, is one of my favorite old Roleplayer articles. It stands up after a few years of dust, and I still use this for character creation a good deal.
  • Originally written for AOTA (see below), my Book Rules For GURPS were done as a test of my own writing. I figured if I could write some REALLY dry rules and make them readable, I was okay. Whether I succeeded, of course, is subjective!
  • The Custom Spellcasting article was submitted to Roleplayer in the Olden Days. You can SMELL the dust on this foul thing. It still has it's adherents, though, and that's heartwarming. Especially since it's traveled the globe, netted me tons of email and comment, and has never generated a single penny from SJ Games. Alas.
  • Elixirs of Utility is short and sweet. More fun for alchemists. They deserve some.
  • Like the Back of My Hand is another Roleplayer piece. This was written as one of a batch of one-page articles, submitted on the theory that Roleplayer would at some point need filler pieces to round out the pages. This particular one was submitted when GURPS Time Travel was being finished, since I hoped it would make it into the rules. The Filler Theory worked. The Time Travel theory didn't. But now these rules are in the Compendium, so all is cool!
  • New Methods of Divination was my first work ever published by SJ Games, and was later absorbed into GURPS Magic, 2nd Edition. Steve Jackson typed it by hand into a computer for publication (I submitted it typewritten!) and less than two months later announced publicly that he'd never do that again, and that all submissions to Roleplayer had to be electronic! Whew! Just under the wire.
  • The Rules for Herb-Hunting are [blush] my GURPS conversion of an article Dragon magazine rejected when it was an AD&D piece. They're rules for . . . well, herb-hunting.
  • I'm very happy with these rules for Second Sight, a collection of new advantages for mages. They add a good deal of variety and "zip" to magical campaigns where there are a few extra points to play with, or where mage-players like taking ST and HT at 8 to get more advantages. La Seconda Vista is the ever-popular Italian translation.
  • Here are two quick optional rules for magic that I use in my own campaigns at home.
  • If the rules for lycanthropes in GURPS Bestiary, 2nd Edition are a little much for you, you might like my variant rules, instead. They're pretty much as brain-dead simple as you can get and still use ads and disads in the building process.
  • These Designer's Notes for Warehouse 23 were assembled late at night in a single sitting, while I was tired. This is ALWAYS the best time for me to write, and the popularity of this article seems to have borne this out as true once again!


GURPS Adventures

I've actually written very few of these for publication; most of my adventure-work has been for other games. The 23rd issue of Pyramid Magazine featured PawnShop, an adventure based around a real-life friend of mine, an affable madman named Karl Boxley.

My only other GURPS adventure in print is Cray Canyon Cold Snap, a Horror Western which appeared in an ancient issue of White Wolf Magazine, back before they went all black-lipstick and coffee-shop on us.

Best of all, though, Craig Roth has done an HTML conversion of my GURPS Fantasy solo adventure, Partners, another item which originally appeared in AOTA. Go try it out! And no cheating the first time through, okay?


ApaZine Excerpts

These articles, excerpted from my 'zines in All of the Above, the GURPS APA, are presented in their original, unedited form [with occasional comments in brackets]. This means that many of the ideas are rough, dated (in terms of rules canon), or just loopy. But they're unique, and otherwise unavailable to the general public (the original "print run" was about 20), so I figured it was appropriate to place them here.

Note that only complete, GURPS-related (or RPG-related) articles and material have been included, so you won't have to wade through my old Mailer Comments and the like.

  • The Mighty Frood'Zine, Number One This installment - "The Wrong Lizard Might Get In" featured the One Buttock disad. Need I say more? Also, my stats (as of 1992) in GURPS terms. I'm more interesting, these days.
  • The Mighty Frood'Zine, Number Two is the same thing once I'd gotten my feet wet and was no longer wet behind the ears (experience is all about the slow migration of moisture on the body, you know). It features the infamous Pentagon article, and a much earlier version of Unlimited Mana.
  • The Mighty Frood'Zine, Number Three is jam-packed and fun-filled. Expanded alchohol rules, the early version of the Barbie from Warehouse 23, wierd rants and so much more. And this one is as poorly converted to HTML as the others. Time is so precious, you know . . . The cover for this issue of AotA (#13) was drawn by Yours Truly (well, if you can call it "drawing" - I'm a writer, not an illustrator!) . . . You can see the cover by clicking here (it's a big file).
  • For Daws to Peck At, Number One features "You Can Be Scott Maykrantz," my guide to re-creating the almost-criminal genius behind GURPS Creatures of the Night! It also includes Nyekundu Mkate, one of my all-time favorite GURPS Supers characters from the local games.
  • For Daws to Peck At, Number Two has the library rules that make the Book Rules work! This one includes my writeup on GenCon '93 - what there is of it! Also more of the usual junk.
  • For Daws to Peck At, Number Three was where the afforementioned Book Rules (as well as Partners) first appeared. Here at last is (some!) of the other GURPS stuff that was in that issue of Daws, including variant rules for Solar Power and a new way of pricing "striker" advantages. Also: MORNING FOG, and one of the best characters I never played. You've been warned.
  • STILL More to come! Stay tuned!
"Classic-Era GURPS?"

When I was writing for Steve Jackson Games, my GURPS work focused on whatever GURPS happened to be like at the time, and I was eager to try out anything that came along for my favorite RPS. Now that It's just me and my players, with no deadlines and editors, I game a little differently, using only what I call "Classic-Era GURPS," meaning (to make a long, rambling story short) GURPS that uses only rules present in the GURPS Basic Set, 3rd Edition (and some of my house rules, like Unlimited Mana). This means I still use Magic and Grimoire, for example, because they use the same spell rules as in the Basic Set, but I don't mess with more complex additions like Maneuvers, the Supers rules, or the Vehicles rules. While some of the articles you'll find here do make use of these mechanics, none of my new material will. From here on in, I'm doing this page as a fan and player of GURPS - not as a GURPS writer. Enjoy exploring here and elsewhere, and drop me a line if there's something you'd like to see me add.

GURPS is a registered trademark of Steve Jackson Games Incorporated.
This site is not sponsored by Steve Jackson Games.

fnord



Home | Cumberland Games | The Fontworks | Risus | Fly From Evil
Uresia: Grave of Heaven | GURPS | Star Trek | Crossword | The FAQ
Pokethulhu | Gourmand Bleu | The Secret Library | S. John