Victorian GURPS


"GURPS by Gaslight"

The image on the left is from The Victorian Web from their Portraits of Queen Victoria page.

GURPS is a registered trademark of Steve Jackson Games. The image on the right is copyrighted by Steve Jackson Games and is from their GURPS Basic Set page. All rights to these marks and artwork are reserved by SJ Games. The material on this website is an original creation, intended for use with the GURPS system from Steve Jackson Games and is presented in accordance with the SJ Games online policy. This material is not official and is not endorsed by Steve Jackson Games.

Victorian GURPS is mirrored on the following sites: (But I make no guarantee that they will all be up.)

Victorian GURPS Stuff

Here's some of the resources we use for playing GURPS in a Victorian setting. Given that the 'G' stands for "Generic", I would daresy (and hope) that this information would be useful to anyone doing Victorian gaming, regardless of the game system they're using.

About This Site - A few words of introduction and background on our discovery of the GURPS system and Victorian era gaming.

The Gamers - A listing of the miscreants playing the Victorian GURPS campaign.

Gameworld - A description of the Victorian-era gameworld we play in.

House Rules that we play with.

TL5 Plus or "Saving the PCs Butts with Unbelievable 19th Century Tech"

Victorian Vernacular - Some terms used in Victorian literature that can give your games a more "period" feel.

Victorian Voices - A listing of stock voices that can be used for characters, PCs or NPCs. Many of these are from British comedies that we've watched over the years.

Links - A collection of WWW links to GURPS and other RPG resources and general information on the Victorian era.

Victorian Roleplaying Themes

Here is a listing of Victorian themes that describes a number of different "big picture" themes that can be used to form the backdrop of an adventure. They are:

Life And Times Themes
High Society - steeplechases, stately manors, and courtship
Social Reform - sufferagette, class strife, minorities
Humor - quotables and laughables

Progress and Discovery Themes
Industrialization - steam trains, factories, pollution
Invention - medicine, electricity
Mystery - Detectives, clues, villains

Travel and Adventure Themes
High Seas - Ships, islands, treasure
Exploration - Caves, catacombs, pyramids
Conquest - Batallions, bayonets
Wild West - Shootouts, saloons, tumbleweeds

Strange and Fantastical Themes
Horror - Vampires, werewolves, zombies
Fantasy - Wonderland, Oz, Narnia
Supernatural - Ghosts, angels, mediums

Scientific Romance Themes
Weird Science - Vivisections, chemical concoctions, reanimation of dead tissue
Steampunk - Babbage engines, automatons
Marvelous Machines - Victorian visions of incredible vehicles
Space Travel - journeying to the moon and planets, alien invasions
Time Travel - time machines and frightening futures

Character Sheets

Here are some character sheets for a few of the player characters we're using. Maybe one of these days we'll put up some smaller NPC sheets, too.

H. C. Dennison aka "The Scarlet Raven", played by Mark Whitley
The DiRECtor! - Aristotle Alberti, played by Jared Whitley
Gabriel Grub - a.k.a. "The Sexton", played by Jared Whitley
Paranoid Cowboy - played by Jared Whitley
The Gravedigger - Cuthbert Taylor Winters, created by Mark Whitley
The Spaniard - played by Mark Whitley (Printer friendly: stats, skills, notes)
Unfinished: "Shady" Kate Rowhouse - A prostitute character
Idea for a German Farmer character
Cosmo Copperthwait - patterned after the character by the same name in Paul Di Fillipo's Steampunk Trilogy, played by Erik Andersen
The Great Lombardo - stage performer and hypnotist, played by Erik Andersen
Persuasive Pete - a very Diplomatic Irish character by Jared Whitley
Mary Thichkiss - daughter of wealthy textile industrialist, one-time dweller in Fairyland, aspiring magician, and totally, utterly bonkers. (See also Mary's character history.)

Adventure Seeds

Here is a listing of Victorian adventure seeds:

The Franco-Moroccoan War
Desecrations at the Rue Morgue
The Floating City
The Treasury Engines
The Spelunking Expedition

Full-Fledged Adventures

These are adventures we have done so far. Unfortunately, we have written up rather few of them. Please be patient, we're working on it. 'K?

London Adventures

A Horse by Any Other Name - featuring Sir Elliot Elliot and his extrordinary steeplechase wager - by Jared Whitley

The Egyptian Cat - wherein the enigmatic 'Quinn' is introduced - by Mark Whitley

Randonium!, or The Strange Case of Baron Rumpold - in which our good friend Bob the Chemist sends us on a rather extrordinary errand - by Jared Whitley

The Curious Curiosity Shoppe - wherein we learn that home can be much more than just a place where you hang your hat- by Mark Whitley

The Deloursborough Theatre's Troubled Production - a talented group of actors stands only in need of a leading lady, someone to direct their play, and some way to pay off their enormous debts - by Mark Whitley

Mission of Mercy or "Fairy Jamboree" - where the characters investigate a remarkable mountain in the city of Wellwyn - by Jared Whitley

Bedlam In London - a killer on the loose and ill goings-on in Bethlehem hospital - by Erik Andersen.

Steading of the Viking Ambassador or "V is for Viking" - in which the adventurers are given a very simple task to perform - by Mark Whitley

Kidnaped in China! - Where the adventurers become strangers in a strange land - by Blake Barlowe

High-Class Nannies - What could be easier than a baby-sitting job? - by Mark Whitley

Ship of Lost Souls - Where do all the lonely people go? Get on board, we'll show you... - by Jared Whitley

The Franco-Moroccoan Invasion - Where General Worthsfort sends the adventurers on a mission to rescue British soldiers being held captive by French soldiers in Morocco - by Mark Whitley

The Big Hunt - Featuring a contest to catch a rare and exotic bird, the Cawing Screech Akatyrx in New Bottswatha, Africa - by Jared Whitley

The Haunting of Chapelwaite Mannor - A classic "haunted house" tale inspired by the Steven King short story "Jerusalem's Lot" - by Erik Andersen

The Forest Oracle - A re-tread of an old D&D adventure - by Jared Whitley

The Machinations of Dr. von Frightmarestein - A delightful romp with a little bit of everything: a Wise Woman selling potions, steam-powered robots, talking skulls, a Vernian 19th century submarine, and a pair of deuling mad scientists - by Andrew King

Tryal on Mt. Yyyzyzyrs - Yet another very D&D-ish adventure brought to you by the inimitable Jared Whitley.

New Orleans Adventures

After having lots of fun in England, we decided to take the adventuring across the pond to the "colonies".

Mammy Bammy's Black Magic Trudging through the swamps, the crocodiles were the least of our problems... - by Blake Barlowe.

Redneck Rampage All the local yokels have gone nuts, or is it something darker at work... - by Mark Whitley

Seminole Gold The pirates have buried treasure. Go find it. Beware the pirate skeletons. - by Jared Whitley

Lepers Ahoy There's no adventure setting in this world (or any other) that's more fun than a leper colony. - by Andrew King.

Call Me Confederate Catfish - A trapse to the Caribbean for tracking down Confederates, and maybe a bit of treasure. - by Jared Whitley

Oklahoma Land Grab or "The Many Faces of Amonkihotepzuatlatl" featuring a train ride to Oklahoma, infighting between Chinese and Irish rail workers, a confrontation with an Evil TwinTM, and a confrontation with an Aztec god of death. - by Andrew King

The Horror at Taco Flats - A voyage to Mexico to stomp out more Confederate no-goodniks and deal with a horrific summoning by native tribes there. - by Mark Whitley

Right about here was where we decided to have a venue change.

Generic GURPS Stuff

These next few items are rules and guidelines for running GURPS campaigns, but they are not Victorian-era specific.

Notes for Game Masters

Some notes and help for GMs.

Skills a Game Master Should Develop - There are many dimensions to being a good game master. This page attempts to list a few of them.

Tales and Lures - Where to get ideas for adventures, and get the players involved. Emphasis on making character-centric adventures, i.e. writing adventures around character's motivations and goals.

Dealing With Large Groups some strategies for coping with a large party of players. Includes pre-adventure strategies, managing a split-up party, and keeping large combat sessions under control. The guidelines presented in here can be useful even when the group isn't very large.

New GM Cirriculum - A list of combat / contest scenarios that a new GM should go through to help familiarize himself with the rules.

The Devil and the Advocate - Some hints on how to be a good GM and balance the dual role of playing both the "bad guy" and the "player's advocate". Includes some examples of how to accomplish this.

The Storyteller and the Rulemaker - Some advice on how to ballance the twin roles of telling an involving story and making sure the rules of the game system are honored.

Contests: An Alternative to Combat - An attempt to distill the elements of combat that make it exciting and suggest other means for achieving that excitement through contests.

Making the Players Nervous by Jared Whitley - Including things they're not expecting and things they don't want to hear.

Notes for Players

These are some guidelines for players, especially regarding character creation. Also included are some ideas for rules extensions.

Character Creation Checklist or "Things Every Character Needs" - A checklist that every player should use when making a new character.

The Quintessence of Quirks - Some suggestions for selecting fun and interesting quirks for your character.

Dissertation on Disadvantages - Some advice on how to pick advantages that will suit your character well, serve as a hook to get your charcter involved in adventures, and provide a lot of entertainment for the group.

Advice on Advantages - Some suggestions on advantages that every player should consider for their character. Also, some advantages that can grant the players some additional help from the GM.

Soliloquy on Skills - Some advice on choosing skills and a more detailed method for recording skills on your character sheet that will (hopefully) help you do all the math.

Advice on Character Creation - Some guidelines from Jared on character creation and some things to keep in mind when creating a new character.

Character Motivation - A piece from Jared on how to rationalize why your character is so keen to go out adventuring. Includes a long listing of different types of motivations and some classic adventure styles where those motivations could be used.

Being a Team Player - Advice on how to make a character that has some attachment to other PCs on the team and wants to get along with them.

Playing a Long-Term Character - Some guidelines on how to create and play a character who will be enjoyable and viable for a long time. Includes sections on what other players and the GM can do to help.

Additional Rules

Some additional advantages, disadvantages, attribute, and house rules that we play with.

Clarifications of Existing Rules as we've played, we've explored the rule system and learned how things work and don't work. Our understanding has frequently been enlightened by the folks on the GURPSnet mailing list and the helpful support staff at SJ Games. This page contains a collection of the things we've learned so that we and others can have a reference for the wisdom we've gained.

New Advantages by Jared

New Disadvantages by Jared

New Skills by Jared

Luck Rules and Advantages - By Jared, with some additions by Mark.

Extended Looks Rules - By Jared

Advanced Savior Fare Rules - By Jared

Incremental Attribute Raising - It costs a lot of points to raise attributes in GURPS. The cost is justified by the fact that attributes influence so many of the things your character can do. This page gives rules on "incremental paybacks" for putting points into attributes.

Incremental Disadvantage Payoffs - Some examples of how to pay off large disadvantages in installments, where each installment gradually lowers the severity of the disadvantage.

Character Point Inheritance - By Jared Whitley. Some rules for having a new character inherit some of the points of a previous character.

Aquiring Advantages After Character Generation - Some musings of mine on advantages that a character could feasibly buy with earned character points.

"Just-In-Time" Skill Raising - Some rules for "on the fly" skill raising in the middle of an adventure.

Miscellaneous Rules - Dumping ground for anything that doesn't fit in anywhere else: creative skill use, manuveurs, extra effort, etc.

Random Musings

Some of these are just cut-n-pastes from emails.

Using IQ for Sense Rolls and why it makes "sense". :-)

A lengthy Explanation of the 'Duty: Rescue Innocent Downtrodden' disadvantage and how one might role-play it in various situations.

3d6 Probabilities - What are your chances of rolling given numbers or sets of numbers on 3 six-sided dice.

Seinfeld GURPS Character Stats by Jared Whitley

3rd Rock From The Sun GURPS Character Stats by Jared Whitley

Some guidelines on proving bugs in the system What? You mean there are bugs???

1 Gazillion B.C. an idea for an interesting TL 0 gameworld.

You may also want to have a look at Grecian GURPS, my website for a TL2 Ancient Greece campaign.