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Ravenloft in GURPS 
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Evil Genius
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Post Ravenloft in GURPS
To jump straight to the GURPS rules for Ravenloft, click here. This will sidestep a lot of my lengthy preparatory posts.

Here is a partial chapter list. The rules conversion is a work in progress.

Ravenloft background rules:

Heroes of Ravenloft:

Spellcasting in Ravenloft:

Local Rules:

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Last edited by HuManBing on Fri Jul 13, 2012 2:28 pm, edited 37 times in total.



Tue May 20, 2008 8:53 am
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Evil Genius
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This is likely to be a post more for GURPS people.

I've decided to use a different set of rules for my Ravenloft campaign. After many years of playing by d20, we're ready to move on. D20's rules are good for a pre-made setting, pre-made flavor, and pre-made racial and class progression. However, they are not very conducive to tinkering and tweaking - especially with regards to more dangerous combat, or to more granular customizable characters.

The crunch:

I have the double core books of the 4th ed GURPS, as well as pdfs of Magic, Martial Arts, and three Creatures of the Night monster books. I also have the 3rd ed books on Undead and Monsters. What else should I get?

In d20 the Fear/Horror/Madness is basically a Will save. GURPS has the Will Roll. Has anybody tried this? How well does the Will roll reflect these special saves?

I like how the combat has the Shock system to make it quite dangerous. Fits in nicely with the deadliness of Ravenloft.

I especially like the skills system, which appears to avoid the arbitrary "this skill starts at 20% but that one starts at 50%" problem in CoC and the Amazing Engine. The division into Easy, Moderate, Hard, and Very Hard skills is more reasonable.

The magic system seems to be quite different. There appears to be several different systems and the main one has Magery ranks as the primary qualifier. Then some spells have other spells as their prerequisites. There are lesser systems e.g. Rituals. How well do these compare? If I wanted Azalin (whom the PCs will definitely meet and fight against) to still be a surpassingly powerful mage, what's the best system for him? I'm seriously considering having multiple magic systems for added flavor.


Last edited by HuManBing on Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.



Fri May 23, 2008 7:45 am
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I remember liking the GURPS system when it first came out years ago. I have been out of the loop for several yrs now with roleplaying games that aren't MMORPG. But thinking of the Will save issue I would conclude that you could treat a Fear roll = to Will save, Horror roll = Will save -2, and Madness = Will save -4 or something similar. I have to omit that I haven't seen the changes in the dice game form. When I last played a dice version it was 2nd ed AD&D. As far as the Azalin issue I would think that sticking to one game system would be perferred as a player. I would give Azalin exceptional attributes, several powerstones, and some nice magic items to boost his spellcasting abilities. It was my impression that magic was somewhat less common in a GURPS campaign vs an AD&D one but that could be just what I had experienced but with the above suggestion, Azalin could be a very powerful nemesis for your party (as he should be).

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Sun May 25, 2008 11:11 pm
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Thanks, that sounds good. Interesting that the Fear/Horror/Madness were not all at the same level. That certainly scales them in terms of deadliness.

How many ranks of Magery should Azalin get? 3? 4? Maybe 6 or more?


Tue May 27, 2008 9:03 pm
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Back when I played GURPS, the highest level of Magery was 3. So using that as a guideline, Azalin would have magery 3 as a wizard plus 1 for lich, plus 1 for archlich, plus 1 for being a domain lord and even possibly more if you desire the dark powers to bestow them. With that tally, Azalin would have his Magery level 6 at least and possibly more depending on what level you as gamemaster would need it to be and and the maximum allowed within the system.

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Wed May 28, 2008 5:48 pm
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It might be interesting to make it One School Only Magery-- this cuts the point cost of Magery levels but means he can only cast for the one school (and Recover Strength)-- he can learn other spells that may be prerequisites for the spells he can cast but can't cast those (for instance, Burning Death is a Necromancy spell that requires Heat-- a Fire spell-- as a prereq. He can learn Heat but never cast it no matter how useful he'd find it.)

[Note: I'm not sure if there's a way to do 'Limited Colleges', ie something like Azalin is great with the Metamagic, Enchantment and Necromancy colleges but no other-- this might be worth asking at the SJGames boards. It might not be considered limiting enough in which case you might just buy normal Magery levels and handwave the college limitations.]

Another possibility, which there's no hard-and-fast point cost for, but would still cramp Azalin's style: GURPS bases time to cast and energy cost on skill levels-- at low skill (11 or less) spells take twice as long to cast because they require hands and feet free for elaborate ritual movements, and loudly audible speech. As you might expect, this means that any kind of restraints or gags (or spell equivalents) ruin the mage's day. At high levels, time and energy costs are reduced, and the mage can usually just fix you with a grim stare and set off his spell (it's like the Still Spell/Silent Spell feats, kind of).

Well, what if no matter what Azalin's *actual* skill levels are (and I figure they'd be in the 20s easily) he still has to go through the whole ritual rigamarole like an apprentice who's barely mastered a spell at skill level 11 or less? "Lesser" mages like Strahd, Hazlin, etc. aren't fettered by this (and become VERY dangerous if they have some offensive spells at the high levels needed to completely ignore speech or gestures!), which would p*ss off the old lich to no end.


Thu May 29, 2008 10:30 am
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I just started statting up a GURPS build for Balipur the vassalich. (You meet him serving Azalin in Roots of Evil.) I'll post the stats when I finish them.

I am enjoying the departure from the class-based 3.5 rules a lot. All the powers are modular, so you buy them with character points. This is much, much better than having to contort myself through feats, arbitrary class powers, skill points (with the class and cross class fiat that the game designers put down) and prestige classes to get what I want. The only slight tree-like game mechanic is in the skills and the spells, where you need some skills/spells as prerequisites to others.

Spells are powered by points, and are learned like skills. The skills fall into four difficulty levels each with increasing penalties. (So riding a horse would be easier for a complete newbie than casting a complex spell.)

I get to liking this system more and more. I think I will finish up the Azalin netbook in 3.5 and then send it to the Fraternity, and let that be my last d20 work. You get the sense that the GURPS system was made my people with a decent background in mathematics. A lot of the system is optional and entirely up to the GM's discretion.

The flip side is that the GM has more work cut out because they have to carefully vet the rules and exclude some and include others. But I think I prefer this much more to the "we-don't-think-monks-should-be-able-to-feint-as-well-as-rogues" nonsense of d20.


Sat Jun 07, 2008 5:40 pm
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HuManBing wrote:
The flip side is that the GM has more work cut out because they have to carefully vet the rules and exclude some and include others. But I think I prefer this much more to the "we-don't-think-monks-should-be-able-to-feint-as-well-as-rogues" nonsense of d20.


Also, you may find you want to set up some template "classes" for new players, ie "you will want stats in this range and these skills for such-and-such", not to mention the possibilities in having characters who are effectively paladins or clerics but who do not have spellcasting ability (perhaps they have no particular magic talent at all, like Toret Severin in VRA, or advantages that supply their supernatural talents, ie a paladin who can lay on hands has the Faith Healing advantage, not Magery + Healing spells).


Sun Jun 08, 2008 8:49 am
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Yah, that's true. The 4th Ed. GURPS core rulebook does have some template help for fantasy type classes but I think Ravenloft PCs can also do well with some of the skills and templates from the Mysteries netbook too.

I should have brought my Gothic Earth boxed set from China...


Sun Jun 08, 2008 9:53 pm
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The Gazetteers' "The ____ Hero" sections will also be useful for providing suggested skill lists and advantages/disads for characters (Mulan Hazlani and Falkovnians, for instance, are going to have some kind of "Distinctive Features" disadvantage for their tattoos and brands; Poison Resistance may be relatively common among Borcans, or Disease Resistance among Richemulot folk).

ETA: I mean the low-point versions of the resistance advantages; the highest-point version of Disease Resistance, at least in 3rd edition, meant you could be injected with a live HIV strain and shrug it off! I wouldn't allow that unless someone was VERY special, and that level of Poison Resistance in Borca would get you some exceedingly unwelcome attention.


Mon Jun 09, 2008 12:17 am
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Seems Brandi has a keen understanding of the GURPS system. I like the idea of giving domain citizens racial modifiers for each particular area. Just a reminder about powerful characters in Ravenloft, meaning your nemesis NPCs, their existance should not go unnoticed by the dark powers. The Enticement by the Dark Powers gives benefits that others will not have and of course some flaws or handicaps as well. My rule of thumb back when I ran a Ravenloft campaign was to treat the Enticement just like the old relics and artifacts. When you give a benefit add a hinderance and the more powerful the benefit the worse the hinderance. Using Azalin as an example, you could give him Necromancy skill at no cost - a gift of the Dark Powers and of course he would be unable to cast a particular spell skill or Necro spells would be performed at a bonus skill level and again he would suffer a negative effect in a particular spell skill, etc. The idea being you have the freedom to adjust or tweek him to fit your needs. And this can be done for all plot driving NPCs not just Lords of the lands.

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Mon Jun 09, 2008 8:27 pm
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It's actually been quite a while since I've played GURPS but I used to play it pretty steadily for several years-- the only thing is that I haven't invested in 4th edition yet for financial reasons (among others), so some of my advice may not be mechanically correct for the new system. At least SJG tried to retain a goodly amount of backwards compatibility since there were so many good worldbooks and supplements under 3rd ed.

[Aside: if you can pick up a secondhand copy of GURPS Blood Types, which contains a set of vampire templates from folklore to modern lit, it'd be worth it even though it'll have to be tweaked for 4th ed!]


Tue Jun 10, 2008 10:55 am
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For the vampires I have a few templates. There are some in the Undead and Monsters book from 3e. I'll be tweaking those.

I like how you can fine tune so many things. Although there are templates, they don't get in the way of specific powers and effects. A refreshing change from the hidebound d20 system. (Which appears to have gotten even moreso with 4e.)


Tue Jun 10, 2008 2:42 pm
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I now have the Thaumatology GURPS book (in pdf format - apparently the print format is expected to arrive in October). This means I should be able to get some progress made on the magic system.

Something creepy and occult-based could work. I like the idea of a magic system similar to Call of Cthulhu, insofar as repeated use of magic itself will lead to a fallen state.

This could apply somewhat to Azalin's curse. That magic literally led him to become the undead horror he is today, instead of being a mere tool for him to trigger that process.


Tue Sep 30, 2008 3:30 am
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In about two weeks' time I will have finished taking the bar exam and so my time will become a lot more plentiful than it has ever been over the past three years of law school.

I expect to have role-playing games (mostly GURPS) as my primary recreational activity. I'm running a sci-fi campaign in GURPS with one single player just as a way of getting used to the mechanics. I intend to put down more solid campaign material for Ravenloft as a conversion, which I'll post here.

SJGames is also looking at doing a 4E update of Horror, which I will very likely get in pdf format. (I have the 3E paper version and it is excellent.)

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