Over on Mastodon, I’ve been posting a bunch of covers for purported obscure GURPS books, along with a few “facts” about each one. Here’s the original Mastodon thread.
Most people got the joke, but I think a few are still searching for these. I’m posting them here for posterity.
The development of this supplement received some funding from the Canadian government in 2000. The loan to SJG was a small part of the “Shawinigate” scandal that plagued the Chrétien Government. It was removed from the shelves of Canadian retailers and remains a collectors item there to this day.
Had a sample adventure called “Night of the Ookpik”
Perhaps the most expensive license SJG ever acquired. Supposedly, it nearly bankrupted the company.
GURPS Are You Being Served?
After releasing GURPS The Prisoner, SJG looked around for another older British TV property they could adapt. This was the only license they could get.
David Ladyman stated in later interviews that he only agreed to work on this book as a contractual obligation.
Its poor sales and critical failure doomed SJG’s planned development of both the GURPS Sandbaggers and GURPS Sapphire & Steel books.
While never popular in North America, I’m told the occasional AYBS game crops up at most UK game conventions.
Jason Morningstar has stated in multiple interviews that the Innuendo & Misunderstandings subsystem from this book was a major influence on his Fiasco RPG.
GURPS Autoduel: The Dukes of Hazzard
Released shortly after the first edition of GURPS Autoduel, this remains the only official RPG adpaptation of the popular 1980s US TV property.
This was originally supposed to be released in conjunction with the Car Wars: Hazzard County boxed set, but that game was never released.
GURPS Cod Wars
Due to the success of the WWII GURPS books, SJG attempted to adapt other 20th century conflicts. Their first choice was the Cod Wars, the two naval conflicts between Iceland and Great Britain over fishing rights in the North Atlantic.
According to Steve Jackson, concerning this book: “In retrospect, perhaps it would have been better to go with the First World War instead”
GURPS A Man Called Sloane
Inexplicably based on a mostly forgotten 1979 Quinn Martin-produced spy show.
It is rumored that the original plan was for a Man from U.N.C.L.E. book, but the licensing deal fell through, so a lesser property was used.
The star of the series, Robert Conrad, while attending a fan convention, was invited to play a session of GURPS using this supplement. He was quoted at the time as responding:
“Get this nerd shit out of my face..”
GURPS The Wiz
In 1994, Steve Jackson Games wanted to produce a game book based on L. Frank Baum’s classic Wizard of Oz stories. However, all of the books weren’t yet out of copyright, so they decided to adapt the 1974 Oz-based musical The Wiz instead, which was available at much more reasonable price.
This didn’t stop the Baum estate from suing SJG. After a few years of legal wrangling the whole thing was settled out of court. The GURPS Oz book was never developed.
GURPS Age of Disco
This sourcebook for all things late-Seventies was published in 1990, far too early for the 70s revival that came later that decade.
The dance rules in this book were later expanded into a more comprehensive dance system that was eventually published in the fourth-edition GURPS Modern Dance (I’ll post that one later)
This was popular enough that a second edition was released in 2005.
GURPS Dungeons & Dragons (the Cartoon)
In the mid-90s, SJG started adapting settings from other game companies, most notably Vampire: the Masquerade and Traveller.
In a particularly bold move, SJG made a deal with TSR to license D&D settings into GURPS books.
They had hoped to adapt some of the flagship settings like Ravenloft or Forgotten Realms, but to start off with TSR only gave them permission to adapt the 1980s animated D&D television series.
When TSR finally collapsed in 1997, and was bought out by Wizards of the Coast, the agreement with SJG was quietly terminated.
The book itself is well-researched, and fans of the TV series still value it as a comprehensive reference guide.
GURPS Hero System
In 1996, when their partnership with ICE ended, Hero Games began to look around for another publication partner for their products. An initial deal was made with SJG.
The initial fruit of this union was GURPS Hero System. After several months of development, a hybrid system was developed that could supposedly run both Hero System and GURPS adventures without conversion.
Critics were unkind, dubbing the system a “mechanical nightmare”
It was mechanically quite complex, and the official character sheet extended over 2 US-legal sized sheets.
The 880-page book remains to this day, as the largest physical book SJG has ever published.
The long-anticipated GURPS Champions never got further than the playtesting stage.
Hero Games ultimately decided to work with R. Talsorian Games instead.
GURPS Cutthroat Island
Beginning in the mid-90s, SJG pursued a strategy in which they would attempt to license the RPG rights to upcoming hit movies, before they were released, in order to get a discount on licensing costs.
The problem with this strategy was determining what movies would actually turn out to be hits. One of their big failures was licensing the Renny Harlin/Geena Davis disastrous pirate film.
Unfortunately, the link to the failed movie doomed this book.
The sad part of this was that most reviewers found the actual content of the book to be excellent, with useful rules for sailing ship combat and swashbuckling action. The advice on running pirate-themed campaigns was top notch.
The extensive bibliography is still used by RPG designers interested in Age of Sail gaming.
A somewhat misguided attempt at 1980s nostalgia.
Still holds the record as the shortest page count of any the printed GURPS books.
GURPS Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever
This 2002 book was both SJGs final attempt at adapting a upcoming film franchise, and their final setting book for GURPS 3rd edition.
Its failure spurred the company to renew efforts to develop the fourth edition of GURPS, which debuted a year later.
GURPS Modern Dance
This was initially intended as one of the flagship products of GURPS Fourth Edition.
More timid heads prevailed however, and its release was delayed, and made digital-only.
It has a small cult following among students in some noted arts universities.
GURPS The Cosby Show
I only had vague memories of this 1990 book, so I contacted SJG to confirm some details of this product and its history.
In response, I received an angry denial of this book’s very existence, and a strongly worded cease-and-desist letter from SJG’s attorneys.
So this will be my last GURPS post for a while…
One thought on “The Lost Books of GURPS: RPG books that probably didn’t exist.”
These are so great, I wish they were real!