Questions Three: Sean Punch

GURPS Mass Combat

As noted in a previous Daily Illuminator, we've been asking some folks around here interesting questions in an abbreviated version of the Questions Three format, as found in Hexagram.

I recently sought out GURPS Line Editor Sean Punch, who has written, edited, contributed to, and guided countless supplements for more than 20 years.

You've been with GURPS since last millennium. What's the biggest change you've seen in your time in the professional tabletop RPG world?

Given my rules-geek reputation, you might expect me to say something like "narrative gaming," "rules-light systems," or "the OSR" – but my answer is "the digital revolution." When SJ Games hired me in 1995, the RPG world revolved around printed games, brick-and-mortar stores, physical gaming tables, and attending cons; today, PDFs, online shops, VTTs, and participation in crowdfunding are becoming the norm.

What's your favorite GURPS supplement that no one seems to talk about?

That's a hard call – and I'm going to exclude my own work – but I'd call it a tie between GURPS Boardroom and Curia and GURPS City Stats. Everybody talks about character abilities, gear, and favorite genres and settings, but most campaigns also need organizations and settlements, which these supplements define more solidly than just about all other RPGs.

Someone challenges you to come up with a cool campaign that GURPS would do great with that's hard to do with most other systems and that uses no more than three supplements (not counting the GURPS Basic Set). How do you respond?

I'll cheat, start with the two supplements I just mentioned, and give three options: Use City Stats for your metropolis and Boardroom and Curia for its government, departments, businesses, nonprofits, and criminal groups, and then add GURPS Mass Combat for riots and gang wars to get a serious (i.e., non-Action) campaign of urban grit; or add GURPS Social Engineering instead, if you prefer power elites to street violence; or use all four to run a top-to-bottom city sim.

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Unless he puts out another item before this post runs, Sean's most recent writerly release is Dungeon Fantasy: The Devil's Workshop for the stand-alone Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game.

-- Sean Punch, interviewed by Steven Marsh