Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mapping on the job

Yes, it's another post where I start talking about D&D, so naturally I first refer to GURPS.

No, really.

Here's the story: A few days ago, someone at SJG mentioned on their own blog, The Daily Illuminator, about the various ways in which GURPS can be played. GURPS is notorious (apparently, somewhat undeservedly) for being number-heavy. Well, it can be played with just the basic books and one other for a light and airy feel that doesn't take it too seriously, or you can load up the milk crate with your entire GURPS library and go all-out.

The system even features rules for using a hex-mat, although they're not mandatory; a GM could choose to do without them. Thus, the GURPS Light campaign becomes not only possible, but an almost attractive proposition.

Good for them, I suppose. But where's the D&D Light? The main 4th Edition rules have only one gear, and it's intended for RPG heavy lifting: strict movement rules and precisely position-based powers. It seems impossible to play without them. (And I would very much like to show me how it can be done, if it can.)

This could be one reason why a lot of people stayed with 3.5th Edition into its new incarnation, otherwise known as Pathfinder.

Don't get me wrong; there's much to be said for the pomp and circumstance, the organization, the clockwork precision of a carefully prepared and scripted combat on a prepared map. Even the use of a map can suggest and limit strategies in interesting ways; I was thinking of running some GURPS in full-crunchy mode some day. But if you just want pick-up play, all that prep can get in the way.

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