GURPS Basic Set

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GURPS Basic Set
GURPS first edition box set
Designer(s) Steve Jackson, Sean M. Punch, and David L. Pulver
Publisher(s) Steve Jackson Games
Publication date

1986 (1e)
1987 (2e)
1988 (3e)
1989 (3e 3rd printing)
2004 (3e revised 6th printing)
2004 (4e) 1st printing February 2008 (4e) Characters 3rd printing

April 2008 (4e) Campaigns 3rd printing
Genre(s) Universal
System(s) GURPS 4th Edition

GURPS Basic Set is a hard-bound two volume set written by Steve Jackson, Sean M. Punch, and David L. Pulver. The first edition GURPS Basic Set was published in 1986.


First and second editions[edit]

GURPS stands for Generic Universal Role-Playing System – that is essentially a very flexible descendant of The Fantasy Trip. Basic combat is simple, but advance combat is very position-oriented, almost a complicated boardgame. The level of complexity used is completely up to the players. The character improvement system is skill-based. The many additional supplements to the Basic Set enable GURPS characters to move easily from one gaming genre to another.[1]

The Basic Set includes a "Characters" book (72 pages, covers character creation and development, skills, and basic equipment), "Adventuring" (80 pages, covers success rolls, combat, damage, running the game, game and campaign backgrounds, and animals), a 24-page book of charts and tables, and a 32-page book of two introductory scenarios, one a solo.[1]

The original GURPS Basic Set included the combat rules from the previously published Man to Man. Magic rules were omitted, but were released in GURPS Fantasy (1986).[2]:107

GURPS Characters cover

Third edition[edit]

The third edition GURPS Basic Set combines all the books from the previous sets into one volume.[1]

Fourth edition[edit]

The GURPS Basic Set for the fourth edition of GURPS was published in 2004 by Steve Jackson Games and contains the core rules for the fourth edition of GURPS. The first volume, Characters (ISBN 1-55634-729-4), addresses what players need to know to create a GURPS character and play the game. Eight sample characters are included. The second volume is titled Campaigns (ISBN 978-1-55634-730-6) and addresses the information a GM needs to build a world. All the basic information needed to run a GURPS campaign is here with genre or world-specific information in other books.

The previous edition of the GURPS rules consisted of a Basic Set as the core rule book, with GURPS Compendium 1 and GURPS Compendium 2 released later to collate alternative and advanced rules in a logical place. Many source books published after the release of the compendiums required them for play. The fourth edition basic set shifts the majority of that material into the core rule books.

In a move from previous editions, the books are hardbound and in color, a trend which has been followed in successive GURPS 4e books, with mixed reactions from players.

To facilitate the transition from third edition to fourth, a free PDF update was released. It includes a quick but comprehensive guide to change characters or source book information to the new rules.

Publication history[edit]

The first edition GURPS Basic Set was written by Steve Jackson with Creede Lambard and Sharleen Lambard, with a cover by Denis Loubet, and was published by Steve Jackson Games in 1986 as a boxed set containing four books (80, 72, 32, and 24 pages), sample character record sheets, and cardstock miniatures.[1] The boxed GURPS Basic Set appeared at Origins in 1986.[2]:105 Steve Jackson Games began regularly supporting the game with supplements following the publication of the first GURPS Basic Set.[2]:107

The second edition revised GURPS Basic Set was published in 1987.[1] The third edition GURPS Basic Set featured a cover by Michael Presley, and was published in 1988 as a 256-page book with a 16-page pamphlet.[1]


The first edition of the GURPS Basic Set was reviewed by Marcus L. Rowland in issue 83 of White Dwarf magazine (November 1986).[3] Rowland comments: "While I can applaud the idea behind the system, I can't really recommend GURPS at its present stage of development. In the long run, GURPS and all its supplements may cover more ground than other systems, possibly at less expense, but in the short term there isn't enough support material to run a fully rounded game of any type, apart from gladitorial combat and medieval adventures."[3]

Space Gamer/Fantasy Gamer #79

Different Worlds #47

Aventurer #6

Second edition Basic Set reviewed in White Wolf #13

Michael DeWolfe reviewed the third edition of the GURPS Basic Set in Space Gamer/Fantasy Gamer #85.[4] DeWolfe comments in his summary: "This game has looked at its peers and built on all of them; avoiding their mistakes and following their successes. If you're looking for a good point generation system, get GURPS. If you're looking for a truly generic system, get GURPS. If you're looking for a painstakingly coherent system, get GURPS. If you want a fine RPG, get this game. It is worth it."[4]

Jim Bambra reviewed the third edition of the GURPS Basic Set for Dragon magazine #149 (September 1989).[5] Bambra comments: "Now in its third incarnation, the GURPS Basic Set is better than ever. [...] It's a game designed to be used with an unlimited variety of backgrounds and settings; to its credit, the GURPS game does so admirably."[5]

Games Review #5

The third edition GURPS Basic Set was an ORIGINS and Gamers' Choice award-winner.[1]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • In 2004 GURPS 4e Basic set won the "Pen & Paper Fan Award" as Best RPG[6] and was an inductee in its RPG Hall of Fame.[7]
  • It was a nominee at the 2005 Origins Award for Best Role-playing Game.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. p. 385. ISBN 0-87975-653-5. 
  2. ^ a b c Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7. 
  3. ^ a b Rowland, Marcus L. (November 1986). "Open Box: Master Rules". White Dwarf (review). Games Workshop (83): 4. 
  4. ^ a b DeWolfe, Michael (Jan–Feb 1989). "Space Gamer Reviews". Space Gamer/Fantasy Gamer. World Wide Wargames (85): 33. 
  5. ^ a b Bambra, Jim (September 1989). "Role-playing Reviews". Dragon. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: TSR (#149): 88. 
  6. ^ "Pen & Paper Fan Awards - 2004 Winners". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. 
  7. ^ "Pen & Paper Fan Awards - 2004 Winners (page 3)". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. 
  8. ^ "Origins Awards 2005 Announcement". Retrieved 2007-08-24. 

External links[edit]