Saturday, February 27, 2021

Review: GURPS Furries

Yiff
 Skipping just a smidgen away from regularly scheduled micro-book reviewing, I've decided to look at a book that is a bit more substantive and a bit more recent. This book, on the face of things is about running a game with anthros. I feel like it does an ok job, but also GURPS Template Toolkit 2 does more for exotic types. So, in brief, if you need help designing exotic races, I'd recommend Template Toolkit 2, and if that doesn't completely satisfy you, then you might want GURPS Furries to fill in a few of the blanks that the previously released book does not address, or that are further extended. A bit more detail after the jump.

Introduction

Big table of contents
First off, this book is written by William H. Stoddard, a well established GURPS writer, it is on sale now at Warehouse 23, and I was part of the playtest, so I got a copy for free; my new legal name is on the cover, and even though my role was small, it elates me to see it there. This is an $8 pdf, with 39 pages (subtracting title page, back matter, introduction, and table of contents, 31 pages) split across three chapters. Chapter one talking about the idea of genres, and how furries might typically interact with any of the conventional or specially focused genres. Chapter two details new mechanical traits for Furries, and slightly more detailed rules expansions for how different morphologies might interact with different fighting skills or example. The last chapter is a plethora of example racial templates prescribed to different settings and genres. Largely, the book accomplishes what it sets out to do: equips GMs and players to run or play in games with anthropomorphic characters, but if I had to point out one major criticism, it's that the book feels overly narrow in scope. I wonder if this is a case of "what the author knows," it could be a case of the furry fandom being absolutely bonkers huge, and only having 31 pages to work in, but even forgiving these conditions, the large majority of focus is on vertebrates, and even more specifically, heavily focused on mammals. The primary morphology assumed is bipedal and two-armed. These critiques might be brushed away with, "well, the majority of anthro characters are bipedal morphs of mammals, and usually if not mammals, almost always vertebrates," but I contend that throughout the long life of GURPS, the standard faire "vanilla" archetypes have been exercised several times, so I still would have like a look at something a little more exotic. Anyway, it's good, but I feel like it could have been a lot better.

Genres

This chapter starts with a clarification of how it defines the word genre, and how it defines the word furry (as the anthro character, not the fan of said anthro character) It then talks about historically popular media that includes anthropomorphic animal characters, including various myths and fables, going through to examples from contemporary times, giving details that might be good to keep in mind if one would be interested in emulating such fiction. Overall, brief, but an interesting read nonetheless. It's a little more brief than I'd like, and there is a very helpful table embedded in this chapter that is an index of racial templates by species they are inspired by, but it feels extremely out of place and maybe two chapters too early? Oh well, that critique is a reach.

Furries in Play

This chapter contains the most novel mechanical content of the book. Some parts of it exercise content from Enhanced Senses, Template Toolkit 2, and Bio-Tech among the more esoteric books, but also uses information from Powers and Martial Arts which almost anyone that is a fan of GURPS is likely to already have. This chapter has lots of useful examples of modified abilities and explanations to common questions about such. There are suggestions for a "cinematic" scaling of characters and their equipment at the beginning and the end of the chapter respectively (seems kinda weird that they are used as bookends instead of being in one place?) The chapter also has an enjoyable section on fictional martial arts styles that take advantage of species that have horns, tails, or sprays. This chapter is the jewel of the book.

The Zoological Garden

This chapter is kind of like "Chapter 2 applied," and is a long list of racial templates for different popular furry species. They are mostly grouped by different genres, and really, I don't have a lot to say about them. They are all written well and cover a large range of power levels, and "realistic" and "cinematic" scenarios. A detailed list of templates can be gleaned from the screenshot of the table of contents from earlier.

Other Thoughts and Conclusion

I've already said before that this is mostly a good book. I'd call it a more detailed, more focused sequel to Template Toolkit 2. That book is probably more useful if you are interested in more exotic morphologies, but if you are fine with bread-and-butter-almost-human furries, GURPS Furries is good enough.
Getting really close to the year anniversary of battening down the hatches forever, hoping I can get a vaccine soon.

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