GURPS 4th ed. Character Assistant
I loved the 3rd ed. GURPS Character Assistant and couldn't wait to try out the new one with all the 4th edition rules. I finally got it and tried it out. This is what I thought of it...
I recently received a copy of the GURPS Character Assistant for 4th ed. I had the 3rd ed. Character Assistant before and I loved how easy it was to use and so it was with anticipation that I sat down to transfer my character, Sir Deimos of Ironhold, into electronic format. Boy was I disappointed...
The "4th ed." Character Assistant doesn't comply with the 4th ed. rules out of the books. Nor does it have all the skills and skill classes listed in the Basic books. Let me explain.
In the books, weapons are organized by class and characters can study the class skill or specific weapons within that class. For example, in the Basic book, you could have Swords as a skill, meaning all swords with a one or two handed grip that you swing and poke with that have a blade that is two feet long or longer. This includes broadswords, bastard swords, great swords, claymores, and others. It does not include fencing weapons or shortswords. The reasoning is that a person who can wield a broadsword should be able to wield a claymore. It's not that far of a stretch, skill-wise. I know this from experience. You can also specify that you know Broadsword as a skill, but have never picked up a claymore or used a bastard sword.
...the character assistant was still going by the 3rd ed. rules.
Here's the problem: my character is a knight who is trained in a multitude of weapons. I gave him the sword skill as a class, allowing him to pick up and use different swords during battle, which he has done on several occasions now. But the "4th ed." character assistant doesn't allow for this. The character assistant only allows you to pick specific sword skills (i.e. broadsword). I pointed this discrepancy out to my GM and we reread the weapons rules and agreed that the character assistant was still going by the 3rd ed. rules. How lame is that?
Another feature that I didn't like was the automatic defenses. As I stated above, my character is a well trained knight. He has already fought a three year war and is well versed in a multitude of weapons. His two best combat skills are the longbow and the broadsword. He is a master swordsman who spends a lot of time teaching others how to use their weapons when he has the time.
Gurps has three basic defenses. A dodge; based on your movement with the option to have bonuses because of certain skills or advantages. Blocking; which is the ability to block attacks using a shield. And a Parry; which can be used with a weapon or with your hand to hand combat skill. The character sheet has a box for each of these defenses, but only allows one entry per box.
My best close combat weapon skill, and the one that I use the most, is my sword skill. That is what I would like to have in my Parry box. That way it is easily referenced and available for everyone. For some reason, the assistant entered my Brawling parry into the Parry box and there doesn't seem to be a way to change that. How lame...
Seriously, how often am I going to use Brawling? I've used it in the middle of a fight before, but not on a regular basis. I think that I used my brawling parry once in the game so far, and that was only because my sword was stuck in another foe. So why can't I pick which parry to use? Wouldn't that make sense?
The last problem that comes to mind is the character sheet itself.
The last problem that comes to mind is the character sheet itself. I did a print preview of my character sheet and noticed that the area that lists each of the weapons that I own, their stats (dmg, ranged, etc.), and their costs was all jumbled together. The different weapons overlapped so badly that you couldn't read what it said. It was utterly useless.
Before you ask, I have updated the assistant with all the patches and whatnot from Steve Jackson Games. I did this before starting on my character. Normally, I can count on Steve Jackson Games to put out a quality product (outside of the never-ending binding issue) but this is a huge disappointment.
Will I use this product in the future? Yes. I will use it to make characters, but I'll probably have to write them out since you can't read a lot of important information. I will also have to add in skills that are missing from the Basic book, like Military Science.
Would I recommend that you go out and by this product? Only if you can't figure out how to write up a character on your own. Or if you are extremely lazy or if you have handwriting that only you can read, and even that is a stretch. Other than that, I'd have to say that this product is a waste of money.