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Tabletop Game / GURPS Supers

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GURPS Supers is the Generic Universal Role Playing System's superhero expansion. Two editions were published in the 1980s as supplements for GURPS 3rd Edition; a completely new edition was much more recently published, actually a completely new book designed as a supplement for GURPS 4th Edition rules and linked to the recent GURPS Powers rules expansion.

The first edition was criticized because it arranged superpowers in sets called "Power Groups" which players felt limited their character creation choices. This was fixed in the second edition, so that powers could be bought individually. (Power Groups were retained as an optional system.) The 21st century edition handles powers and abilities completely differently again, in line with the significant changes in the core GURPS rules.

Another criticism of the original books was that you couldn't emulate the most powerful heroes from the comics (such as Superman or Green Lantern) because either they would be too expensive to adapt (costing thousands of character points) or their powers were too expansive and there were no exact equivalents for them (though these were problems faced by most superhero RPGs of the time.) On the other hand, GURPS Supers could handle the less absurd superheroes, and it produced many interesting original characters of its own. With the 4th Edition version, even cosmic-level heroes can now be reproduced, though most of the work for that was done in GURPS Powers.

Another problem the books had was the artwork; it was crude and uncolored, except on the covers. Again, the latest version has mostly better art, though still uncolored.

There were several Sourcebooks put out for the game, the most famous being an adaptation of the Wild Cards superhero novels. The 1980s editions had their own original setting, detailed in Gurps IST (International Super Teams) which featured an Alternate Universe where the United Nations effectively rules the world and uses superhero teams to keep the peace. The IST world was recently incorporated into the GURPS Infinite Worlds meta-setting. All of these can now be purchased in PDF form from Steve Jackson Games' website.

Related tropes:

  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: with the "No Visible Damage" perk.
  • Captain Ethnic: Avoided for the most part.
  • Cast from Stamina: GURPS in general allows a character to activate Extra Effort - by spending stamina and making a Will roll (with increasing penalties based on how much stamina is spent), extra dice proportional to stamina spent can be added to a power's effect. A power can also have Cost Fatigue limitation (either as a whole or for certain extra power levels) to allow for this effect without requiring a roll.
  • Cat Folk: The Meeranon from IST are telepathic humanoid tigers, who come in all coat patterns of Earth felines, from jaguar to tabby, and a few more such as green.
  • Death Dealer: In the 3E supplement Supertemps, Blacksmith used a weapon that fired metal projectiles the size and shape of playing cards.
  • Death Seeker: The noble Japanese villain Mount Fuji.
  • Die or Fly: Justified; see Meta Origin.
  • Differently Powered Individual: Called "Supers" or "Metas".
  • Disability Superpower: You CAN combine Blindness and vision powers.
  • Emotion Eater: in the 3E supplement Wild Cards, Senator Hartman (AKA Puppet Man) and The Gatekeeper (owner of the Joker's Wild cabaret).
  • Expy: The templates in GURPS Supers are all to some extent designed to let players play these. For example, the Archetype is most obviously for playing Superman, but also includes "Amphibian" and "Super-Swimming" options if you'd rather play Aquaman. The Brick includes a "Man of Steel" option that's basically Colossus. Most blatantly of all, the Man Plus comes with a choice of "Superalloy Chainmail" or "Superalloy Medium Shield."
  • Fantastic Slurs: "Crunchies" for nonpowered humans.
  • Friend to All Living Things: The superheroine Lynx in the 3E supplement Supertemps.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Many powers have an associated skill attached with them (along with a default rating for untrained power use). Particularly with new powers, the user may have a low chance of using them effectively, which can result in various mishaps (and if the power in question has a high rating and the "Full Power Only" limitation, this can be very dangerous for all around).
  • Hulk Speak: Used by the Frankenstein-like hero Patchwork (who is actually using Obfuscating Stupidity.)
  • Immune to Bullets: Several options.
  • Jet Pack: In the Supertemps supplement the heroes Clone and New Javelin each had one.
  • Kidnapped Scientist: Harold Wilkesom (Blacksmith) in the 3E supplement Supertemps.
  • Lightning Gun: Modular Man (from Wild Cards) has one.
  • Living Ship: The 'Ishb'kaukab in the 3E supplement Wild Cards are a race of whale-sized, telepathic, sentient creatures that live in deep space and have been genetically engineered by the Takisians into self-repairing spaceships.
  • Magic Pants: The "Costume" advantage prevented the character's clothes from being damaged (but not the character himself).
  • Meta Origin: In the IST world, powers mostly come from genetic manipulation by Precursors, turned latent due to solar radiation; often activated by stress.
  • Misapplied Phlebotinum: Avoided, many Metas use their powers for legal gain.
  • My Suit Is Also Super: The Costume Advantage also allowed the clothing to adapt to the users' powers (ex. turning invisible.)
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: With the "Damage Reduction" advantage.
  • Omniglot: The Omnilingual advantage.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The vampire superhero, Nightflick.
  • Personality Powers: In the fourth edition, the standard superhero templates come with personality powers.
  • Power Incontinence: The "Uncontrollable" power limitation. A milder version is the "Full Power Only" limitation - while a power with levels ordinarily can be dialed back as the user feels necessary, if someone with "Full Power Only" uses it, they are unable to do anything less than full power. "Always On" is the stronger version - while someone with "Uncontrollable" might be able to avoid using their power at a given time, "Always On" is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. This can be anywhere from inconvenient (like Body of Steel or Body of Stone) to downright dangerous (like Body of Fire).
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Adventure School of Hard Knocks. The supervillain Denier is nasty, chauvinistic, selfish and abusive. He also has blood-red eyes in his human form.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Averted, technology has advanced in the IST Earth thanks to the study of powers (and interaction with aliens.)
  • Reverse Shrapnel: The Ring of Fire power.
  • Shoulder Cannon: Wild Cards. The Modular Man can have two of these, one on each shoulder.
  • Shout-Out (Tabletop Games): See that article for examples.
  • Shrink Ray: The power Shrinking with the Affects Others Advantage. In the Supertemps supplement the hero Nucleus' nanosuit has this power.
  • Sleepwalking: One of the side effects of "Uncontrollable" is that a character might use their powers in their sleep. One explicit issue discussed is the problem of sleep-teleportation.
  • The Spark of Genius: Appears in the 3E supplements Wild Cards and Supertemps.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: The superheroine Lynx in the 3E supplement Supertemps.
  • Stripperific: One optional rule (meant for more four-color cinematic play, mostly for female supers, but males can take advantage of it, too) is a "Bulletproof Nudity" rule, where the character's defense increases in direct proportion with how much skin they're showing (with full nudity providing a +10 to damage resistance). The offered explanation is that foes are too Distracted by the Sexy to aim well (thus, it's recommended that the rule only be in place for characters with at least one level of Appearance). The canon character Flamin' Jane (who wears a Leotard of Power with a flame-shaped Cleavage Window) benefits from it when in effect.
  • United Nations Is a Superpower:
    • In IST, the UN is strong enough to outlaw national military superteams and make it stick. In the world's first incarnation, this was imposed by threat of force on powers up to and including the Soviet Union. Later, this was retconned into being more of a mix of technological bribes and threats.
    • It's also stated that several nations (The US, China, the Soviet Union, and many other major or regional powers) simply turned their military teams into something considered legal, such as having them (officially) report to a different, non-military branch of the government, or making them government subsidised "private" superteams, while still having them set up to act as military superteams when needed.
    • The UN does secretly have a cache of strategic nuclear weapons, despite having outlawed them.
  • The Unpronounceable: The alien race called Kyz, also from IST, use a partially-empathic language.
  • Weaponized Teleportation: 3rd Edition had Teleport with the Exoteleport enhancement. The Supertemps supplement had an NPC with the ability.