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GURPS Encounters: The Harrowed Hearts Club, Jon Black 15 June 2018

This first GURPS Encounters book is a tavern/bar/club sourcebook combined with four short adventures.

The idea, I think, is to straddle the line between specific and generic: the default assumptions are broadly American, for the mid 19th century or later, but the ideas can be readily transplanted to other times and worlds.

The first half of the book is dedicated to the idea of the club – oddly lacking in any maps, which may score points for genericity but means more work for the GM. (I still value my copy of the Millennium's End GM's Companion for its selection of floor plans of modern locations.) Rather, the various elements likely to appear (bar, storeroom, green room, emergency exits) are listed, with some minimal GURPS stats for things like breaking in through emergency exits; there's a box suggesting how to pick a total size, and suggestions as to how much space each area should have. (And yes, it lets you map floor area to maximum occupancy, legal or otherwise.) For supernatural games, there's also some consideration of the "spirit of the club" as a ghost in its own right, perhaps controlling other club ghosts; and loose (uncosted) templates are given for bartenders, bouncers, musicians, patrons, and so on.

The second half consists of the history of a specific club, and four short adventures that can happen there. A femme fatale offers an opportunity to get rich quick; a apparition provides a glimpse into history; a poker game is much more serious than it appears; and a supernatural incident gets filmed, but someone doesn't want that video getting out.

GURPS has always suffered from a lack of adventures, because there are so many incompatible campaigns being run that any individual adventure won't be useful to most players. This book doesn't really try to remedy that, with three of the four encounters having explicitly supernatural components, but the material on laying out and populating a bar/club is solid (and could even be used for a pub, with the addition of a beer cellar). GURPS Encounters: The Harrowed Hearts Club is available from Warehouse 23.

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