RogerBW's Blog

GURPS Steampunk 3: Soldiers and Scientists, Phil Masters 08 March 2019

This is the third of the new GURPS Steampunk supplements, updating and extending the old book; with genre and technology already covered, this volume deals with character generation.

Disclaimer: I was lead playtester for this book, and therefore did not pay for it.

The book is reminiscent in layout of the "Characters" chapters of GURPS 3rd edition supplements: it starts with a discussion of various relevant traits, and how it's appropriate to use and modify them for a steampunk game. In particular there's a substantial expansion of the rules for Gizmos, which allows for new and interesting limitations, and combination with the concealment rules from the second book. There are also notes on how to squeeze polymathic scientists (and scientific societies) into the Contact and Patron rules, many new and useful Talents, and relevant Perks (some of them borrowed from other GURPS books). Among other gems we find the Inappropriate Manner quirk, the constant and unconscious use of a particular Influence skill to the extent that it generates negative reactions; and Feats of Science joins Feats of Strength among largely-useless but flashy Hobby Skills. There are also good notes on socially inferior groups and how they're treated in detail, rather than the blunt mechanics of Social Stigma; and even some new martial arts styles. This is the kind of treatment that any detailed setting could use in GURPS.

The bulk of the book, though, is the character templates, including a few racial ones ("Biological Creation", "Raygun Gothic Robot"); the remainder are sorted by cost from 50 (primarily for low-powered games, but of course they can be used as a baseline and then improved on, so there mostly aren't more expensive versions of them later) to 150. There are customisation notes and lenses to convert your generic Cavalryman into a Dashing Hussar or a Gentleman-Ranker, or your Reckoner into a Consulting Babbage Engineer. It's a comprehensive list not only of character traits but of the sort of things people did and were in the era, with plenty of explanation of the appropriate manner and style for these characters as well as their raw numbers. There's a great deal here for historical campaigns set around the 19th century, at a stretch from the late Regency to the Great War, even if they aren't explicitly steampunk; and it might even be of use to non-GURPS GMs looking at running games in this historical period.

GURPS Steampunk 3 is available from Warehouse 23.

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