Let’s Roll: GURPS Black Ops

GURPS again? Yes, well, it's quite versatile. And with GURPS Black Ops/Warehouse 23, Men in Black as if directed by John Woo, we certainly tested its limits on the cinematic side of things. Players Chalif and Fred discuss their experience with GameMaster Siskoid on this short, but high-octane campaign. Then, Siskoid talks about creating diceless moments for players in out GM Advice column.

Relevant images and credits in the Let's Roll Supplemental.

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9 responses to “Let’s Roll: GURPS Black Ops

    1. Many games break at higher levels unless they were designed for those higher levels all along (superhero RPGs for example). Though I play them too, I tend to appreciate games where levels aren’t a thing and XP has more narrative uses.

  1. As a person who just recently got into DM’ing, I really am enjoying all these episodes. I’m getting so much great information about how your players are really enjoying the storytelling aspects of the games you run and it makes me want to try and incorporate more storytelling in my games.. Even though the players (my kids) are more about, “I want to use my axe to hit him”, I feel like they would enjoy the game more if I emphasized the story (or a hook) and the general roleplaying of it all more.

    This was tons of fun! Keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks Mike. When I started as a teenager, the emphasis was far more on the “game” aspect (running through scenarios) and I/we became more interested in the story aspect as I/we grew up, although some games I might run still have a “gamist” aspect. Playing with kids (depending on the ages) can be a whole other world. I do have advice columns planned for younger or more neophyte gamers at some point. Possibly soon.

      1. I’m going to put in a shoutout for the Storium.com website here, of which I’m a great fan and subscriber. It’s really a combination of online role playing and a shared creative writing experience, and it’s that writing / storytelling element that appeals most to me. There are basic strength & weakness elements for each player character which will be familiar from traditional RPGs but there are no dice involved, just some limitations to incorporate into the direction of the narrative.
        And – like Mike – I really enjoy your GM tips feature, Siskoid; it’s great to hear such an experienced game narrator share his pearls of wisdom!

  2. It sounds like the high number of character creation points led to some issues for the players with 1) figuring out how to spend all of the points, while still creating unique characters, and 2) remembering all of their skills and abilities during the actual game sessions. Looking back on that campaign, did the characters actually need all of those points to survive the adventures, or would you decrease the number of points, if you were to do this all over again today?

    Thanks for another incredible episode.

    1. I asked and Chalif answered this:

      I wouldn’t change a thing. I think the initial “shock” was due to this not being a common problem to face when playing TTRPGS. While we initially discuss the difficulty in making things “different”, the way it ended up transpiring actually had all four of us know who each character was and what their “specialty” contributed. Really what ended up occurring is that we, the players, found a way to “re-frame” an RPG experience without the same concrete boundaries to which we were used, and it became less about “survivability” and more about the narrative approach to resolving the issues in a way that emphasizes storytelling as the main driver.

      On my end, I just treated the PCs are nearly indestructible so I threw everything possible at them, including Lovecraftian madness monsters which are not built to be “battled”. In such a context, it doesn’t really matter if it’s 100 points more or less.

  3. Whew, the scope of those character sheets sure are… something else. I’ve struggled with just making a second level dnd character!
    My dm had to remind me midway through the first session that my dexterity was actually +3 instead of +1. You’d think I’d have realized that given I was playing a homebrew Faerie race and based every single thing on their sheet around being an assassin. Thankfully the flub matched the flavor, as their occupation was a fugue state completely unaware to them.
    My own piece of learned tabletop wisdom is ‘if you have a good in-fiction excuse for your own out-of-fiction incompetence, you’ll be the most immersed player at the table!’ 😉

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