Sunday, April 25, 2010

GURPS: Create! Don't Convert!

A fond pastime of many GURPS-heads is the famed conversion: Take your favorite game, or better, your favorite book or movie.  I've mentioned before that I'm no fan of this process, and I think it's a waste of time.  Since I've picked up Dark Space, I thought I'd expand on why I feel that way:
  • Impossibility of Accuracy: As Byler pointed out once, you can't possibly get the feel of 40k correct because even the source material conflicts.  In the fiction, Space Marines are gods of war, each requiring anti-tank weaponry to defeat.  In the tabletop game, anyone with an assault rifle can take them down, it's just harder than taking down a normal soldier.  While this is a glaring example, the same holds true for many sagas, whether it's Star Wars, Aliens vs Predator (remember when a single Alien was a big threat?  And then, in Aliens, it takes swarms to take down 5 soldiers?), the Matrix, the Wheel of Time, or whatever else it is you're interested in.  Thus, no matter what you do, you'll always have someone who disagrees.  So why stick to the inconsistent source material anyway, when you can make your own?  Nobody will look at the knights of Dark Space and say "That's not the way they're supposed to be!"
  • Simplicity of Rules: 40k uses an entirely different ruleset than GURPS does, with different assumptions.  The same can be said of other games, like D&D or Rifts.  Trying to convert them over quickly becomes a headache for entirely different reasons.  Rather than worrying if a bolter is exactly right, it's much easier (better!) to simply grab Gyrocs with HEMP rounds and call it good.  In a conversion, someone will complain.  In a creation, nobody cares, and you're free to use the material that's already there, making things easier and faster.  Rather than fighting GURPS, you use its strengths to your benefit
  • Beg, Borrow, Steal: When you convert, you must slavishly stick to the source material, taking the bad with the good.  When you create, you're free to do your own thing.  40k is a terrible RPG setting, because it's designed as a tabletop wargame.  Space Marines simply don't go adventuring!  But, in Dark Space, I can say that Knights do.  I can also completely change the aliens you face, bringing elements from other genres and stories I quite like, making Dark Space less "Fantasy in Space," and more "Transhumanism with Medieval Overtones."
  • Enjoy the Adulation of Friends: If I published GURPS 40k, Games Workshop would sue my pants off, and rightly so.  If I publish GURPS "It's totally not 40k," it's much harder for them to claim that I'm stealing from them, because I'm not.  I've allowed myself to be inspired, but I've done my own thing.  And, as a result, I can not only publish, but people will enjoy the unique twists I've placed on my material.  It's true, I lose some name recognition, but you immediately gain that again when you slap "Inspired by" on it.
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