I have been learning GURPS over the past couple of weeks and have found myself a little overwhelmed at the task. While there are many a good primer and introduction out there, I feel that they do not address the more formal aspect of GURPS, which I believe is the very essence of its versatility. As a didactic method and also a mental exercise, I was wondering if any of you fellow Weavers would be interested in constructing a formal 'derivation' of the GURPS rules and put together a mathematical primer with me.
Perhaps 'formal' is not the best word, as I don't see the necessity of decades of pages devoted to proofs, but 'rational' at the very least, in the sense of giving the reason as to why GURPS rules has us do one thing over the other. One example is the success roll that seems counterintuitive to most. Given a value S in order to succeed, most games require a roll R such that R≥S, whereas GURPS has R≤S. This can be explained (though in a roundabout and not necessarily all that rigorous way) by a single-tailed test. Assuming the value of each roll is a test statistic,
|To be truly rigorous, each roll is technically an event, but that is why we roll three independent die. Given our sample size n=3, our test statistic is thus the sum of each independent value, although many statisticians would frown on the power of such a shoddy statistic. Furthermore, one can even argue that each roll is pretty much a generated statistic of the event itself--we blackbox the actual event and simulate the statistic itself!|
I admit firsthand that I haven't made the argument above sufficiently rigorous enough, but this is the sort of level of discussion I would like to build on for the primer. I would like to take this kind of analysis and apply it to the game mechanics--starting from the point system, give quantitative reasons as to why each attribute credits or debits the character point pool (and by how much!), extending to describing the algorithm of combat and character interaction, including a discussion on the general mathematical structure of modifiers, possible meditations on the economies in the gameworld, and, most importantly, the modularization of such rules so we can define a scalability (i.e. how the general rules that act on the individual character level can also extend/be modified for groups, societies, worlds, etc.) A lot of my thoughts on this focused on finding a more unified way to address the Mass Combat supplement, and I think it would be interesting to see if there is any rational structure that we can tease out of the rulebooks.
Ultimately, the purpose of such a primer is two-fold: (1) provide a rigorous treatment of the GURPS rules that shows the derivation of each action and result, so newcomers to the system are given a graded introduction to the system, and (2) specify the rational design of GURPS which allows GMs to easily tweak the system to create a consistent 'homebrew' structure as needed.
Of course, many out there understand the rules quite easily without such pedantry, and I suggest this not to knock anyone down. In fact, many would argue that such pedantry is what overwhelms neophytes to GURPS in the first place. I feel, however, that it would be a useful resource to those like me, who learn best through formal rules and are fascinated by the mathematical structure of the system (it's why I was attracted to GURPS in the first place!)
I would love to talk with anyone who is intimately familiar with the GURPS rules, and also those who are interested in/have exposure to formal mathematics. I think this would be a frightfully fun little project to embark on, and anyone interested, please pitch their ideas!