Here’s an evergreen topic in gamer conversations and in SJG Forum threads: What titles would we like to see next in the huge and eternally-growing library of GURPS (and DFRPG) supplements?
My wish list follows. Common-sense disclaimer: This is not some deranged plea for SJG to drop everything and make these supplements, nor a suggestion that these would be successful supplements, nor even a claim that they’d be good supplements. This page is just a place to drop ideas for our mutual amusement.
(And I’m not even going to include Vehicles for 4e. That’s been much discussed, and the Powers that Be have made clear that the work would face a number of hurdles. I’ll just leave it alone.)
So, without further thought or ado, welcome to the imaginary bookstore.
General GURPS stuff
An updated GURPS LITE
There’s no need for a refreshed GURPS LITE, but the current edition, dated March 2020, appears unchanged in content from the 2004 edition. Head here to ponder the small improvements that I think would buff GURPS‘ most public persona.
How to Be a GURPS GM 2
Yep, a companion volume to the excellent How to Be a GURPS GM*. (Actually, that’s already an expanding series; by the time you read my list below, some of its items may be already addressed by a recent entry in the series, or elsewhere in the growing system.)
What might lie between the covers of a big new volume:
- Successfully introducing GURPS to new players (in particular, what simplifications, game styles, adventure types, etc. work best for sessions with new-to-GURPS players and new-to-RPGs players)
- Pitching a GURPS game to players of more mainstream RPGs
- Finding games/gamers
- Running online games
- Gaming with rotating GMs
- Gaming with a co-GM (or “adversary” player)
- Advice on when and how to let players go beyond playing PCs to steer plots and world-building
- Related to the above: An overview of GURPS in-game mechanisms for letting players make or influence plot decisions (impulse buys, advantages like Serendipity and Gizmos, etc.)
- Running a “session zero” to lay a campaign’s foundations
- The final episode: Wrapping up a campaign with style
- Rundown of universally applicable, Basic Set-level rules introduced post-Basic Set. Ideas:
- rules for taunting/distracting
- abstract handling of disadvantages (“ham clause”)
- handling of overlapping disadvantages
- the “Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem” rule
- the use of Leadership for encouragement
- specific uses of Tactics and Strategy skills
- alternate radiation damage rules (Radiation Threshold Points)
- parkour tricks
- any Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (DFRPG) simplifications of interest to GURPS GMs
- Overview of expendable energy resources (FT, Energy Reserve, Heroic Reserves, Power Items, etc.), ways to spend them (Extra Effort, Extra Effort in Combat, spellcasting, mundane physical feats, etc.), and ways to recover them
- An overview of the many different magic systems scattered throughout GURPS! (GMs could really use a hand in keeping track of these and selecting the right one for a game.)
- The Skill Categories freebie, included as an Appendix (Sure, it’s available as its own download, but it’s too useful to not repeat here!)
*Bonus trivia: How to Be a GURPS GM is, as far as I know, the only GURPS work to contain the word “horndog” (p. 25).
How to Be a GURPS Player
I believe I’ve already tackled this one. In short, How to Be a GURPS Player would be a lovely companion to the fine How to Be a GURPS GM, introducing new players to the system, advising long-time players on how to power up their game, and clearing up misconceptions surrounding this storied RPG.
Campaign planners, adventure planners, and PC journals
I don’t know how much business sense these make as printed products for GURPS. I picture printed journals and planners as products that some players will buy again and again, making them appealing to publishers. Then again, I don’t have the impression that such products are particularly numerous out there in RPGdom; maybe my assumption is wrong.
Either way, the immediate question: GURPS campaigns, adventures, and PCs can be anything, so what would the system’s planners and journals even look like? These products are probably best tailored to individual, well-worked backgrounds: specific settings like Discworld or Mars Attacks, or “quick-start series” like Dungeon Fantasy (DF), After the End, Monster Hunters, and Action.
There’s already a Dungeon Planner for DFRPG, usable as-is with DF. (Request to SJG: Please add a space on the cover for writing the dungeon’s name!) There’s also a Labyrinth Planner and a Deluxe Character Journal for The Fantasy Trip (both of which do have nice spaces on the cover for labyrinth/character name). The TFT character journal pampers a character with 32 pages of love, even though a lone index card happily accommodates the minimalist write-up (and short lifespan) of a typical TFT PC. A journal like that really wants to handle richly-detailed DF or Action characters!
(Note: See my review of three planner products, and ideas for planners in general, here, and my review of a character journal, and ideas for character journals in general, here.)
Another welcome GM tool would be the Campaign Planner. Start with the Campaign Planning Form from Basic Set or the Expanded Campaign Planning Form from How to Be a GURPS GM (further detailed and expanded for the target setting), with added pages for maps, lists of lands, towns, and other background stuff, journal pages for tracking adventures and PCs, and so on. This supplement wouldn’t be so useful for GMs who de-emphasize campaign planning (e.g., games in which the non-dungeon world is cheerfully relegated to “Town”), but it’d be a great fill-in-the-blanks guide for walking a newer GM through campaign creation.
Book of maps
Maps from the old GURPS Battle Maps product… the handy “generic building interior” map included in the old GURPS boxed set… whatever other old hex maps SJG has lying around… Could these be dusted off and bundled into a product without too much work? Both paper and digital? Genre-specific releases would of course be welcome, but generic building interiors and outdoor maps are pretty useful in any genre.
GURPS Dungeon Fantasy series
This “quick-start series” is already big and glorious (over 35 entries so far!). Naturally, we wants more.
More Adventure, Monsters, Encounters, Treasures, Setting…
Well, yeah, these, obviously. They’re sure to keep rolling in. Bring ’em on!
Particularly welcome would be more Monsters entries tackling specific monster classes. There’s already Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 5: Demons. As C. Saeger notes in the comments on this article, similar treatments of classes like Constructs, Faerie, and Plants would be great. (“Mundane” is of course too broad a class for a book. It’d need to be broken down into many books – which the Monsters series is already doing through entries like Icky Goo and Dragons.)
New releases with more PC professions are also welcome, though I wouldn’t call them a priority – we’ve got plenty now as it is, and each is infinitely malleable, because, hey, GURPS. Also, I imagine it’s getting tough to think of all-new professions that aren’t best handled as customizations of existing ones. (I have a half-worked concept for the Acrobat, a supreme master of mobility; what else would be fun as a new profession?)
More Denizens supplements
These are also givens, and I believe a third entry in the series (after Barbarians and Swashbucklers) is on the way even as I write this. I’ve wordily opined that Bards should be next; after that, for some reason, I’d like to see Druids (or maybe a Thieves tome to beef up the skulkers). But I’ll happily snap up whatever comes, when it comes.
This one is an obvious request: a release expanding town-centered exploits, presumably grabbing relevant bits from the Action series, Social Engineering series, and elsewhere. Some simple rules for varying common activities (buying, selling, thieving, etc.) by size of town (from hamlet to megalopolis) would be welcome. (City Stats can probably lend something here.) Town Adventures could even include a roughly sketched sample town or few.
Bonus feature: For PCs wanting a fixed base more private than ye olde inn, add simple rules for acquiring a hut, manor, castle, or what have you. (Actually, there’s a treatment of permanent abodes in Dungeon Fantasy Setting: Caverntown on p. 28; it’s written for the setting, but you could nick it for any DF campaign.)
Set the excellent Wilderness Adventures afloat in the lakes, rivers, and oceans of fantasy. With simple ship combat, hydro hazards, finny foes, pirate plunder, all that stuff.
Which spurs a thought: What about Aerial Adventures? Sky may be a whole lot of emptiness, but a bit of detail on aerial travel and combat, including mounted aerial combat, would be of interest, as would weather-related hazards, upper-atmosphere monsters, and weirdness like floating cities. While those additions may still leave Aerial Adventures a light volume, fleshing out the Great Up-There would add atmosphere to any game world.
Bonus feature: Take the PCs even higher into fantasy “space”, a realm for inter-planar travel, encounters with moon pirates, and other adventures in the etherlands.
If full treatments of watery and aerial adventures just don’t feel like solid releases, perhaps those environments, along with more detail on planar adventures and other weird realms, could be combined into a Wilderness Adventures 2: Odd Environments or some such.
Who’d like to see a definitive catalog of DF kit? Adventurers has a great core list, but there’s so much more equipment lurking in releases from Sages to the Denizens sub-series to Treasure Tables, and throughout umpteen issues of Pyramid. I’d happily pay for a one-stop Whole Underearth Catalog of everything published so far, plus whatever new must-have goods the author wants to place on the shelves. (Services are vital, too; let’s see an expanded list of what the local temple, thieves’ guild, wizards’ guild, gnome workshop, etc. can do for us.)
Bonus feature: At the end of the work, re-list everything in cheat sheet format with no descriptive text, i.e., a big table with just name, weight, price, and category (Adventure-Wear, Combat Accessories, etc.) for each item. That’d be a great resource for quick shopping.
Another bonus: List all available “price discount” perks (Elven Gear, Dwarven Gear, any others ever published).
Gear Shoppe: Members Only
Imagine a catalog of luxury purchases – the “power-ups” section for well-heeled PCs with beaucoup Savoir-Faire and more gold than Midas. The Gnoman Marcus catalog, if you will. Ridiculously high-powered weapons, bespoke suits of armor with every possible enhancement, ultimate kits for every profession. And again, services: offerings not on the regular services menu of the usual (and unusual) purveyors, but available for the right price (and the right back-door introduction, and the right secret handshake).
Example: For all its $15K price tag, the temple’s New You® resurrection service demands that you drag the deceased in on your own, often a logistically messy (and messy messy) business. What would the temple charge for a pay-in-advance New You® 911-Direct™️ service that dispatches a resurrector to your (death’s) doorstep? (“Divine servitors are standing by. Just a scroll call away!”) Or, for when there’s nothing left to revive, the New You® Platinum Cross™️ plan, which uncorks your pre-arranged soul jar and homunculus vat to respawn you just as you were before that unseemly dust-up with the Wizard of Ooze. (Minus your gear, of course, and all memory since your last soul jar “save”.)
(Hm. While we’re at it… what does the temple, or that one adventurer’s guild that’s “just an urban legend, aren’t they?”, charge for a mercenary mission to bring back a PC from Hell?)
This catalog wouldn’t have to be a unique work; it could easily be a section in the regular gear supplement outlined above. But I can think of one good reason to make it separate: The regular gear supplement should be available to every player, while some GMs would enjoy keeping the elite catalog hidden.
Big Catalog of Professions
Here’s one I should have thought of from the start: a release outlining the many new professions – delver, henchman, and other – that have popped up in post-Adventurers entries and in issues of Pyramid. It’s a pretty obvious wish – so obvious, in fact, that SJG just dropped said work out of the blue, meaning no need to wish for it. Go grab the new Dungeon Fantasy Career Guide, a “shopping list” of four dozen or so professions with pointers to the relevant templates, lenses, special abilities, specialized gear, and more. (Bonus: the work’s simple categorization of each profession’s general type and preferred environment is a nice tool for building teams of specialists optimized for any adventure.)
PCs to Go!
Pre-generated characters are the quickest path to the game table, bar none: just grab and go. So: How about a big ol’ supplement of ready-made PCs, for inspiration, for drop-in players, for instant villains and rivals, for anything. Kromm sometimes posts great designs to the GURPS forum; bundle those into a supplement, add a few new ones, and SJG can just pull the money out of my wallet with no Pickpocket roll needed.
Bonus feature: Include designs that stray far from the templates (perhaps built using Henchmen’s alternate approach to 250-pt PCs).
NPCs to Go!
DF entries like Taverns already include lots of NPCs, but who doesn’t want more? Designs built on the Henchmen templates would be especially great, for instant use as hirelings, rivals, foes, and ready-to-play low-powered PCs.
Mini Dungeons to Go!
For fun play and memorable outcomes, small adventures always seem to punch above their weight. I’d love a nice collection of one-page crypts, warrens, and other dungeons – or make that one page for the map, one for the key – for all those times when the PCs take the unexpected fork in the road, announce a layover in some local cave, or clumsily collapse the evening’s regularly scheduled dungeon.
Bonus: Small maps are often reusable in other scenarios.
(Edit: Dungeon Fantasy Adventure 4: Two-Page Dungeons delivered in summer 2021, with five mini dungeons. But I’m not crossing this off the list, because more are always welcome!)
Encounters to Go!
Similar to the above, I’d welcome a tome of interesting encounters a GM can drop into a game. Traveling peddlers and pilgrims, a fairground con artist, a fugitive on the run, the bounty hunters on her trail, trickster fey, a lost orc child, a stampeding herd, a farm house on fire, a divine messenger with an odd request… little things that don’t demand much setup or play time, but that a GM could develop into bigger stories. (Particularly odd encounters are good for making a PC earn those 15 points from Weirdness Magnet.)
Bonus feature: Make sure the work includes encounters suitable for town, for every dungeon archetype, and for every main type of wilderness environment.
Another bonus fun (?) feature: For those encounters that involve some location, try to focus on a small one: a dungeon room, a merchant shop, a small bridge. Why? So each encounter can include a one-page map for play.
Needless to say, “encounters” is an awfully broad area to play with; a book could narrow its focus considerably while still offering multiple “to go” encounters. An example might be Encounters to Go!: Lairs, offering just a big heap of enemy hidey-holes and other abodes, replete with furnishings, traps and security measures, hench-things, and treasures.
I love creatures, plants, spirits, and so on that aren’t intended as monstrous foes but rather as dungeon color, tricks, resources, and stuff weird enough to puzzle the deepest-dwelling dwarf. Like crawling hazards and dangerous obstacles (in the mold of existing DF fungus)… unexpected sources of aid and clues… it’s all good. (Fun tip: Weird creatures can be great for invoking little-used skills and abilities, as in a scholarly spirit that favors any PC who can converse on an obscure Hidden Lore specialty.)
“Not a foe” doesn’t mean that a creature can’t be trouble! These oddities may not be of the “attacks on sight” ilk, but many would be potentially dangerous, or nasty if provoked, or otherwise best handled with care. (Note that the DF/DFRPG monster rosters already have entries that fit the bill, and the Creatures of the Night series has many more excellent, if not always dungeon-oriented, write-ups of this nature.) For Dungeon Oddities, I’m thinking a supplement with lots of weird creatures/things, most with short and simple write-ups, and all perfect for dungeons or nearby wilderness/towns.
This is the kind of work I’d like to write, not just read. I’ve got a running list of such oddities, from one-note puns with creature attached, to detailed write-ups of complex groups. Things from my own GURPS/DFRPG, D&D, and other games, or cribbed from delves into other GMs’ dungeons, or brand-new creations. The list now has… let’s see, over 1,000 entries. (And I wouldn’t be the least surprised if you, Dear Reader, are a GM with a list that lets you snort at my paltry number of creations.)
GURPS Action series
I’m imagining a work on making field medicine more effective (“Get those mercs back in battle now!”) – and making medic characters fun. The work could summarize action-oriented med rules from Low-Tech, High-Tech, and Bio-Tech, and also take inspiration from fan resources like GURPS Cinematic Medicine WIP Draft 1.
This one takes a little setup. First, I’m not sure where it would go; it’s a work that would apply everywhere from fantasy to far future, and could be worked into How to Be a GURPS GM 2. Or it could be a supplement of its own. But thematically it falls right into the wheelhouse of Action, which has already shaped up to be a storehouse of great toys for any genre. So that’s where I’ll drop it.
In film, set pieces are the showstoppers: the frantic chase, the castle siege, the crashed-wedding comedy climax. They’re typically big, flashy, exciting, high-stakes, and high-payoff, with lots of pieces in motion – and not surprisingly, often logistically complex and costly.
So it goes for tabletop adventures: wherever guns blast, cars race, spells flash, socialites swoon, tables turn, and plots hinge, it’s probably what you could call a set piece. But when there’s a lot going on, a set piece can be logistically complex to play, and costly too (in terms of GM sanity).
That’s where Set Pieces would step in with advice. Topic ideas for your consideration:
- Elements of a fun set piece (time limits, challenging or changing scenery, high or escalating stakes, unusual conditions, turns of fortune, hero moments…)
- Special set piece elements (deus ex machina, death traps, boss battles…)
- Overview of existing tools for building set pieces (Mass Combat, the Disasters series, Action‘s chase rules, pretty much all of the amazing Action 5…)
- Other special GM considerations (fudging timing and outcomes for dramatic effect, switching from standard turns to “dramatic beat”-based turns, creative uses of critical rolls or other chance to upset a scene, handling large numbers of NPCs, gently
railroadingleading PCs to a carefully prepared set piece…)
- Easy ways to turn mundane combats, chases, social scenes, etc. into memorable set pieces
- Rough sketches of classic set piece stages (rolling ship, burning structure, speeding traffic, working mine, runaway train, mega-factory that keeps running even after all the workers flee…)
In short, this would be an advice-heavy work for guiding GMs through the sort of climax that has PCs racing and swinging across collapsing space station bridges while the terrorists fire from cover, explosions erupt, civilians panic, a livestock herd escapes and stampedes (it was the station’s agri-pod, okay?), flying debris threatens everyone, and the escaped carnivorous ameboid from Act I blocks the only exit as the station computer begins the self-destruct countdown.
Needless to say, the work would need an author who has lots of experience with wrangling tabletop chaos!
GURPS Disasters series
Meltdown and Fallout is an inspired title for modern-day action and espionage games, while Hurricane is a supplement with genre-spanning applicability. But for my money, the most widely usable Disasters entry would be Fire – the disaster that PCs face and cause in equal measure.
Fire would review existing rules for lighting things up, provide guidelines for the spread and eventual end of large fires, describe dangers like smoke and radiant heat, and catalog skills and gear for firefighting. (A talented author could maybe work up a tactical system treating large fires as swarm-like hexes with “HP” determined by intensity. These would spawn adjacent swarm hexes if left unchecked, or die out if “dispersed” by firefighting “damage” – but a hex could regenerate if not completely wiped out!)
Bonus feature: A campaign outline for a firefighter team – perhaps even a fantasy brigade battling flames natural and diabolical.
In short, a primer on all things fiery would be valuable in any game with bombs, torches, incendiary rounds, flammable structures, dragons, lava flows, flame pistols, lightning strikes, or fireball spells – that is, every game.
GURPS Power-Ups series
Expert Skills are open-ended, inviting players to come up with original ideas. That means there’s room for a Power-Ups release to catalog published entries, offer new examples, and deliver advice on balanced skill creation.
Going off on a personal tangent, I’d like to see the work cover Expert Skills, Professional Skills, and Hobby Skills together, starting from the idea that the three are really Hard, Average, and Easy versions of the same thing: “horizontal” skills that cut across multiple other skills. Going further down my rabbit hole, I’d note that “expert”, “professional”, and “hobby” should be taken as handy, in-game descriptive labels for typical examples, and nothing more; there’s no reason why Hobby Skill (Gaming), as an example, can’t be seen as a “professional skill” if it supports a job, or as an “expert skill” that makes the PC a legitimate expert in gaming-related areas. (Likewise, I’m leery of that “never provide the ability to do practical tasks” proscription, though I suppose its validity depends on the intended meaning of “practical”.)
An ambitious author could even dig into Very Hard and – dare I suggest – Very Easy variants of such “horizontal” skills. Another good topic would be creative uses of Expert/Professional/Hobby Skills to build interesting characters without horribly long skill lists. The work could also take a look at skills that aren’t labeled Expert/Professional/Hobby Skills but are arguably examples of these (e,g., Criminology as a Professional/Expert Skill that replaces Psychology, Sociology, Streetwise, etc. when examining criminal behavior; Poisons as a Professional/Expert skill replacing Chemistry, Pharmacy, Diagnosis, Hazardous Materials, etc. for a subset of harmful substances; Forensics as a Professional/Expert skill replacing Physics, Chemistry, Observation, etc. for its range of tasks; Traps as a Professional/Expert skill replacing a range of Engineering and Mechanic skills for its odd subset of tasks; etc.).
If the above still seems a slim work, Hidden Lore could be added as another skill that covers uncommon knowledge and is left fairly open-ended in its specialties. Notes on what distinguishes Hidden Lore from other knowledge skills, tips for its use in the game, and a catalog of published examples would be welcome. Broaden the coverage to address all skills falling under the heading “lore”, and we’d have a Power-Ups: Expert Knowledge and Lore book in the making.
I think there’s potential here for a rich entry in the Power-Ups series.
Techniques appear throughout the system, from Basic Set onward. This Power-Ups entry would collect all published techniques into one release, introduce new ones, and offer tips for creating balanced new techniques. It’d be the perfect place to expand on techniques for non-combat skills in particular. (I like the handful that Basic Set offers, and would love to see many more.)
Bonus feature: For system hackers, introduce the option of using the technique mechanism to buy up skill defaults from other skills. In the name of rules simplification, I’d also like to see an option that replaces the rule for optional skill specialization with the techniques mechanism.
Unnamed work on player-defined mental constraints
Help, I need a name for this one! I’m talking about mental disadvantages – not defined ones like Impulsiveness or Laziness or Stubbornness, but the ones for which players set the details: Code of Conduct, Compulsive Behavior, Delusion, Vow, Obsession, Sense of Duty, Intolerance, Phobia, and more. Some of these are “voluntary” constraints that PCs impose on themselves, others are not, but what they all share is that open-ended, player-defined nature.
The work would collect published examples of these disadvantages, add advice on their personalization and use, and… well, maybe that’s about it. There’s nothing particularly tricky about using or personalizing these mental constraint disadvantages, so the title might be a minor entry in the series. Still, wherever traits invite personalization, there’s room for a Power-Ups entry to catalog published examples and offer advice.
Other GURPS works
That’s “202x” as in Banestorm 2021, or whatever year works. (Just not 203x or later, okay?) It’s been a long time since Yrth got its gazetteer – enough time for the movers and shakers to have moved and shaken on, making way for a fresh generation of faces (a la the final Star Wars trilogy). It’d be a ton of fun to see all-new plots, upheavals, and creeping dangers hit Ytarria.
And beyond. Everyone wants to see a loving update applied across Yrth’s sole known continent, of course, but let’s see a good portion of the book present a newly discovered continent, one with the coastlines of an old-timey map: detailed where early explorations have mapped, blobby and vague for stretches further, and full of very wrong guesswork beyond that. From there, it’s all hearty sea voyages, do-or-die expeditions into the interior, and “we’ve lost contact with the colony”.
The book could offer more new realms to explore in short gazetteer form: a hellish underground kingdom, a floating land, and more.
Back in Ytarria, here’s a big change to consider. If I may dream:
Across Ytarria, all hell has broken loose. The demon Emperor has thrown off its mask, and marches with an undead army out of Hades. Dragons stir in every land. ‘Storms dump Elder Things, time travelers, supers and WWII lost patrols across the continent. And – let’s go for broke here – the secret of gunpowder is out. (Turns out the dwarves and gnomes already knew; some mega-disaster reveals their closely-held secret of a hollow Yrth stocked with cannon-packing steam mechas.) Swords and magic battle muskets, AK-47s, and blasters across Megalos. (Yes, it’s Bangstorm now.) An AI overmind has set up shop in the Djinn lands; a force of ankylosaur-mounted orcs, led by a druid demi-god and armed with “CF/4 Porpentine” rifles from some place called “Centrum”, holds a crumbling defensive line against hunter-killer ‘bots. A cabal of notable Yrthlings (including a matured King Conall VI, Earth native Neill Fordham, and two of Zarak’s Seven Kings), along with ISWAT operatives, Merlin (yes, that Merlin), and a certain Dame Amelia of Earhart, is exploring the grim hypothesis that Yrth’s elves didn’t create the banestorm, but merely awakened it – and it now threatens every world in existence. All the stops are out.
Why do this? For all its magic and wild meta-plots, the current Banestorm has a certain buttoned-up air, teasing momentous events that could happen. Which is as it should be: Banestorm lets the GM look over all the plot pieces on offer and decide which ones to set in motion. That’s good – and GMs who like Yrth that way will always have it in the current work.
But for GMs ready to flip over the gaming table, it’d be awesome to see Banestorm 202x serve an unholy stew of parachronic travelers, demonlords, Soviet gunships, awakened mummies, uplifted animals, Salem witch hunters, and last-hour rescues by hussar cavalry with force sabers and real cybernetic wings. Because what system besides GURPS can do that?
Hmm. Easy enough: just pick any good stuff from the DF series that’s not in DFRPG and bring it over. More professions and power-ups, templates and worked examples for henchmen, new settings, you name it.
The following tomes sound particularly appealing to me:
Henchmen and Junior Delvers
A version of DF‘s wonderfully useful Henchmen book tops my wish list for DFRPG. That book’s 125-point and 62-point henchmen templates would be great for hirelings – and for junior delvers, with full notes on how to build a campaign around those early “copper years”. (For new players, there’s a lot of appeal in simpler games with simpler PC write-ups.)
I expect the work would closely repeat the DF book, perhaps dropping the large section on 125-point templates and some smaller bits (“Perks for Guards” (already available in DFRPG), “Ceremonial Magic” (not needed), “Livery”, etc.). In place of the deletions, add the thing that would make the book a fantastic value (even for DF players): ready-made characters using the templates, for use as instant hirelings, junior delvers to go, and even junior villains.
Other oft-met NPCs – merchant, pirate, farmer, court noble, etc. – would be a great bonus. (The work could also be the place to introduce scholars and innkeepers from DF, even if only as NPCs.)
On the henchling front, whether the book formally introduces the Allies concept to DFRPG (beyond the peek provided by Animal Companions) or sticks to hired help would be a call to make.
Finally, the book would be a good place to drop in a few new skills and traits to flesh out NPCs or add color to PC designs. From my own experience, good choices include Teamster, Packing, and Cooking (for caravan professionals; unexciting for PCs!), Artist (sell sketches of dungeon horrors!); Architecture (discern dungeon features and find secret doors, a use of the skill noted in GURPS Basic Set); Law (know what is and isn’t legally kosher in Town); Area Knowledge (a key reason for PCs to hire a local guide for that trek over the Murky Mountains); and Gardening and Farming (yes, even for PCs).
A DFRPG version of Wilderness Adventures could offer the best parts of that DF title, while also fleshing out mounted combat, aerial hi-jinx, and watery adventures. (Give those PCs with Outdoorsman a proper workout!)
For DFRPG? Sure! The game loves its far-away dungeons, but it’s ready from the get-go for urban adventure, with all the requisite skills and quite a few back-alley exploits worked out. A Town Adventures release for DFRPG would resemble one for DF as described earlier, but could also work in core stuff from DF‘s great Guilds supplement, and even choice bits scrounged from the Social Engineering series.
Adventure and encounter works
As noted for DF earlier. A nice collection of small dungeons for DFRPG appeals to me a lot. And again, single-location encounters could include actual play maps, a boon for GMs who’ve re-used those room maps from Merle’s cellar a few too many times.
Pack of printed sheets and forms
I don’t know whether packs of character sheets and other game forms make sense as a product today, when every player has access to a printer or copier. In the spirit of completeness, though, I’ll toss out the idea of a nice pack of loose-sheet character sheets as a DFRPG product. Or an all-in-one product that includes some number of character sheets, Adventure Planning Forms, GM Control Sheets, all the game’s forms.
What would be the advantage over printing these at home? Other than the possibility of nicer paper, mainly just this: size. Persnickety players could enjoy forms that share DFRPG‘s oddball page dimensions.
Okay, that’s not very exciting. But the following would be fun:
Again, this would be the same sort of release noted way up above for DF: a full-fledged journal (32 pages?) to record a PC’s stats and adventures in rich detail. If you’d like to join me in imagining what would lie between the covers of a DFRPG character journal, head here.
As for other journals and planners, what isn’t needed for DFRPG is a Dungeon Planner (already got that!) – and, arguably, a campaign planner, as the game de-emphasizes world building. Unless…
Or call it World Building. Something like that. For those DFRPG players who are ready to branch out from “you got yer dungeons here, and Town here“, SJG can simply direct buyers to full-blown GURPS and DF – or it could release a supplement distilling the world-building, town-building, and campaign-planning stuff into a bespoke release for DFRPG. (Don’t ask me which makes more business sense!)
However that works out, once DFRPG players have stepped up to world building, they’ll be clamoring for a Campaign Planner, too. (Right?)
I’m not talking a book of new spells, whether taken from GURPS books or created for DFRPG; that’d make for a fine Spells 2 book (which I bet players would love, especially if it dipped into high-power artillery and death spells).
No, I’m talking about getting more out of the existing Spells book. Most spells seem transplanted directly from GURPS Magic; many seem nicely reconsidered and updated for dungeoneering use, but the write-ups are still pretty simple. Lots of questions pop up, at the table and in the forums. Like these:
- Aura: There’s a brief guide to undead auras, and to constructs’ auras (they lack one), but do demons and divine servitors have auras? Elementals? Elder things?
- Tell Position: Okay, what it does is pretty clear, but what do adventurers actually use it for? A couple of examples might spark players’ interest.
- Plant Control: The idea that this lets druids adapt certain animal spells to the veggie world is nifty, but the mechanics aren’t clear (at least to me).
- Affect Spirits: What exactly does this affect? The target character or her gear, not both? If gear only, does that mean all gear? All of a set of armor? (Including shield?) If a separate casting is needed for weapons, does it cover all held weapons? Just one? (If one: Just one arrow, not a quiver of them?)
- Many spells: Under what conditions does a target (or even bystander) know that a spell has been cast, when the effects are invisible (as in many mind-affecting spells, for example)? If an effect is noticed, under what conditions is it obvious that the spellcaster is its source? These are very broad questions, but they’re sometimes important; the answers aren’t always clear.
And on and on. Go through all the spells and add clarifications to those that confuse, examples of use to those that nobody uses, and cautions to those that easily derail GM plans or overly upstage non-magic PCs. Add similar clarifications, suggestions, and cautions to all things related to casting, magic items, etc. Toss in a nice section on smart tactical use of magic. Maybe even bring in more magic-related items and options (like “corrupting” magic that tempts with easy extra power).
I’ll refine this idea over time. For now, just think “the big book of squaring away magic-related questions, with extra fun stuff”.
I assume this’ll come in due time. My predictions for Companion 3 were all wrong, but that won’t stop me from prophesying the contents of 4. Or at least making a suggestion:
Given the numerical sparseness of the editorial and production staff supporting GURPS and DFRPG these days, I wouldn’t begrudge a packaging of existing material. Start with that handful of one-page characters (Emily Elms, etc.), monsters (Fae Reaver, etc.), and spells (Land Mine, etc.) offered as downloadable freebies – somewhere. There are a couple of PCs on the DFRPG product page, but I forget where to find the rest. Some look like normal PDFs; others are available only as oddly blurry PDF files. (How do you even do that?). Companion 4 could finally give this diaspora of wandering add-ons a proper home. Then add to those any additional freebie characters, spells, etc. that Kromm or others have offered on the forum.
That’s a start. For yet more low-effort content, toss in a list of what spells are available to wizards at what level of Magery. (Just steal this. Have at it.) Maybe collect some Kromm rulings on frequently asked rules questions. And what else? Stay tuned for new ideas. (In the meantime, all the things I pondered for Companion 3, high- and low-effort content alike, remain as “yeah, that too” wishes.)
Book of maps
I noted this above as a product idea for GURPS. That’d be perfectly useful as-is with DFRPG, but bespoke maps for DFRPG would be even more awesome: more big, full-color, fold-out beauties. I’d like to see a set include at least one really big blank map (open field, arena, giant dungeon hall, etc.), and a bunch of generically useful rooms and features: circular room, caverns large and small, bridge over water (or lava), winding zigzagging path (usable as mountain trail or cavern tunnel), town buildings with back alley, etc.
Wishes aside, I don’t know the economics of printing and packaging two or three of those giant, double-sided color maps as a stand-alone product. (They’re probably not good economics.)
Book of gear
Same as the wish for DF above: lots of gear is popping up for DFRPG as its library grows, from new weapon and armor offerings to mundane sacks and wagons. A book collecting it all – and new borrowings from DF books – would see a lot of use by players.
I’m adding this request a couple years after publication. How did I forget to include it from the get-go? DFRPG comes with a generous selection of cardboard figures, and the rest of the Cardboard Heroes product line awaits players who want more. But even more characters, dungeon features, and monsters are of course welcome. Specifically, the big wish here would be for a new set of DFRPG figures depicting every monster published in the series’ books so far (or at the least every monster appearing in Monsters). That’d be great to have, and might even mollify those who grumbled that Monsters didn’t have art for every entry.
For another interesting set of counters, comb through Spells for any artifacts that spells conjure up or otherwise leave on the battlemap: mounds of moved/shaped earth, pentagrams, gates, etc. Actually, most spell effects that appear on maps will be from Area spells, but custom multi-hex area counters for every Area spell would be ridiculous. A number of big counters representing Area effects for radii of 1, 2, 3, and maybe 4 hexes, usable with any Area spell, would be fine.
For other “feature” counters, I noted here that I’d welcome flat counters for fire, dropped weapons and shields, puddles, dead bodies/bones, rubble, swarms, chests, barrels, tomes, treasure piles, clothes/rags, etc. Add to those some counters for multi-hex pits, lava, runes, altars, caltrops, smoke bomb clouds, and so on. (Plow through the books’ descriptions of gear, traps, dungeon hazards, you name it; anything that’d show up on a map could be a counter.) A new DFRPG collection covering all of these would be nice! Then again… Cardboard Heroes already offers a number of those. And there are plenty of flat counters for such things available for other game lines – even counters from The Fantasy Trip (TFT).
Which brings up an incidental odd mystery: Why didn’t the renewed TFT go with GURPS/DFRPG‘s one-inch hex scale? Right from the start, all three games would be able to share maps and counters without a hitch. Well, except that Cardboard Heroes figures are stand-up, while TFT counters are flat – but really, GURPS and DFRPG want to use flat counters. That’s what both games’ books depict in all of their tactical combat illustrations! Stand-up figures work fine for 1- to maybe 3-hex creatures, but for any beings bigger than that, it’s not clear how that big vertical piece of flat cardboard comports with the multi-hex facing layouts depicted in the games’ illustrations.
A reworked set of all counters – characters, monsters, features, everything – in flat format would make for a really interesting alternate set of counters for GURPS and DFRPG. These counters would actually work as depicted in the books! But if creating that set as a product would be tough business-wise, that’s fine, because SJG could still sell GURPS and DFRPG players on using its existing TFT counters – if they weren’t the wrong size. I mean, they’re not entirely unusable, of course, but it’s a shame to take TFT‘s nifty 14-hex dragon counter and find that it doesn’t really fit a GURPS or DFRPG map. Why this was done is a minor puzzle to me.
Vague idea for a chi stylings work
I don’t know what I’m trying to say here, but cast an eye at this video, featuring the kung-fu way to cook a meal with flying knives, flying food, and chi-powered everything. I want… what’s in this video, though I’m not sure what to call it. A way to flashily inject 功夫 into the everyday, whether that means a menu of crunchy skills and shticks, or just a style guide to the optics of it all.
This could easily be part of a Dungeon Fantasy: Martial Artists tome, or an entry in the genre-spanning Martial Artists series, or a fun entry in Action (the series that’s quietly tweaking all of GURPS from the sidelines). If the latter, the work could take a not-too-serious look at how all sorts of character dressing – martial artist chi, tough-guy brutishness, hacker techno-wizardry, etc. – would color non-adventuring actions. The idea: Turn even mundane scenes into entertaining character showcases.
Gotta let this one stew a bit more. Check back later.
A thought on “collection” supplements
Some of the above wishes are for works that collect or catalog stuff: the collection of DF gear, the collection of published skill techniques, and so on.
Which raises the obvious question: what about obsolescence? That is, as cool as a complete collection of DF gear would be, the second some new supplement pops up with original kit, Gear Shoppe ceases to be the guide that’s got it all.
Musing on stuff that’s really not my business, I suppose SJG would naturally handle that through additional volumes over time, with Gear Shoppe 2 compiling new kit published since the first Gear Shoppe. That’d unfortunately mean searching for things within multiple works (remember GURPS Basic Set 3e + Compendium I + Compendium II?), but hey, having things collected into a single series is still helpful.
The other option is to update and re-release supplements whenever appropriate, expanding their sizes to keep collections complete. The downside, of course, is asking existing owners to repurchase the supplement just to get the new content (and probably at a higher price, since the work’s bigger now). A program that lets existing owners get new updates at a low price is a fair way to address that, but is complex to manage.
Well, that’s really outside the concern of this article; what works best for SJG or any publisher is said publisher’s business. Moving on:
That’s it for now. Further ideas are in even vaguer form than the “chi stylings” idea above. I’ll add them to the list if they coalesce.
And you? What’s at the top of your wishlist for Gaming Santa?
Version history: See Games Diner Site Updates.
Power-Ups: Techniques, Disadvantages, Skills. Techniques would not only collect the current techniques, but would also include new non-combat techniques. Disadvantages would be a good one to handle what you want in self-imposed mental constraints, as they tend to be disadvantages; I want some kind of personality modeling, like how to handle the Big Five personality traits, as well as common mental disorders. Skills is something of a catch-all.
Dungeon Fantasy: The classic monsters are out there: golems, pegasi, unicorns, wraiths. Some whole monster classes need expansions: Constructs, Faerie, Plants. Some generic foes, a la Pathfinder or D&D stat blocks. Urban adventures? Yeah, though there needs to be a default scenario, much like crawling does for dungeons and the wilderness. Speaking of those, there aren’t actual rules for the crawl for dungeons and the wilderness, and the dungeon needs some actual rules support there.
Techniques: Yes, collecting (and greatly expanding) non-combat-skill techniques is a must! I should have specifically said so – and will revise the text now. Thanks!
Disads: Right, the mental constraints I have in mind are definitely all disads. I don’t suggest Power-Ups: Disadvantages, though, as I assume that would be an impossibly broad topic. So as an appropriately narrow topic, I’m thinking Power-Ups: Mental Constraints (for lack of a name) – specially, the constraining disads that players define – would be a good book.
Dungeon Fantasy: I really like your idea of books for monster classes! Something that would instantly fill the ranks of somewhat-hazy classes like Constructs, and shower the GM with ideas for making the related Physiology, Psychology, and Hidden Lore skills shine. I may add it to the article later as a new suggestion (with credit).
Town adventures: The idea of a “default scenario” is intriguing, though I’m not sure what it might be, Buying/selling and finding jobs seem the best candidates to me, and they (and many other things) are already spelled out. Still, I like the idea of some sort of always-available action that reliably awaits PCs in town.
Crawls: Not sure what you mean by “the crawl for dungeons” that isn’t the game’s standard delving. Maybe you’re referring to the sort of procedurally-generated crawl, that lets a GM without a prepared dungeon roll up rooms and content as the party goes? If so, that would indeed be a fine book that some GMs might never use but others would love. And I know some GMs really like that sort of randomly generated, explore-as-you-go “hex crawl” for wilderness. That, with possibilities for rolling up all those delightful hazards found in Wilderness Adventures, would be a fantastic book.