GURPS 4e in physical form

NOTE: This review concerns only the physical manifestation of the rules; I make no judgement whatsoever here about the usefulness of the GURPS rules and system for roleplaying games.


The first half of my GURPS 4e order arrived today. 

I ordered the Characters volume from the Book Depository (it hasn't arrived yet) under the impression that I was getting the set of two books. Then I realised that I'd ordered only the one, so I ordered the Campaigns volume from Amazon, and it arrived on my doorstep this morning.

I think this edition is GURPS's first foray into signature-bound hardback publishing. I don't really care one way or another about hardcover/softcover books for roleplaying manuals. As long as the glue used for softcover perfect-binding is adequate to the task so that pages don't start falling out, that's fine by me, though signature binding is always going to be harder wearing if it's done even half-way competently. This appears at first sight to be well bound, but that's not something that is easy to determine until the book has been in use for a while.

As an aside, I recently bought a copy of WotC's 5e Tasha's Cauldron of Everything book, which is the worst of both worlds. It's really just a badly perfect-bound book stuck into hard covers, and the binding is really shit. Anyway. Back to GURPS 4e.

Let me say at the offset that I hate the paper. It's a very bright white, glossy stock. That's no doubt excellent for making the colour illustration pop, but it's hard on the eyes when reading dense blocks of text (of which there is a lot) and it feels kind of nasty to the fingers.


The illustration style is competent enough, though not particularly inspiring. It's in colour throughout, which is another new thing for GURPS. Again, it's not something that I require in a RPG manual; black & white illustration is fine by me as long as it is informative or evocative (or preferably both).

What is useful about the transition to all-colour publishing is that each chapter has its own full-bleed coloured page borders, which (once you get to know which colour refers to what) makes navigating the book much easier. The colours are easily visible even when the book is closed, so you can go straight to the relevant section with an absolute minimum of page-flipping.

I'm not enthralled with the serif typeface choices, but I have to admit that I've seen worse. The impression I get is one of "good enough" conservatism in layout design.

The glossary and index at the back of volume 2 Campaigns covers both volumes, and appears at first glance to be pretty comprehensive. Of course, only extended use will show that for sure.

In the end, what matters is whether or not this hardback full-colour glossy format is a genuine improvement over GURPS's old softcover black & white books. I'm not convinced that the advantages are significant, but I am aware that I am of an older gaming generation and that The Youth these days won't look twice at anything that isn't ALL THE COLOURS, so I guess from a commercial point of view, it's a necessary change.

1 comment:

  1. I tend to agree with you on the high gloss/color concept but, then I'm a bit of a fossil and rather liked the black and white GURPS books coming from my classic TRVELLER background (and I've collected most of the GURPS TAVELLER books). I also prefer the soft cover just for the storage and weight aspect, that and the nightmare of the first hardcover Warhammer books that would fall apart if you looked at them too hard! All that said I should update the basic GURPS books as mine is rather dog eared ....

    ReplyDelete