Review: GURPS Blood Types

GURPS Blood Types is split up into eight sections:

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: History
  • Chapter 2: Characters
  • Chapter 3: Creating Vampires
  • Chapter 4: Magic
  • Chapter 5: Bestiary
  • Chapter 6: Campaigns
  • Bibliography

The introduction scantly covers the concepts and ideals behind vampires, but does not delve too deeply. This is what an introduction is supposed to do, IMHO. The mood, tone and ideas that are going to be presented in the book are summed up quite well in the introduction.

Chapter 1 covers the history of vampirism throughout the various regions of the world that held such beliefs. Wow. The research dropped into this section is phenomenal! I’m incredibly impressed with the depth and breadth of knowledge this chapter imparts upon the reader. Many people would consider this to be nothing more than “fluff” to go with a very crunchy GURPS book, but it’s so much more than that. Anyone interested in running a vampire-centric game needs this knowledge. Anyone planning on running a vampire slayer of some sorts would also benefit from the history lesson included here. I need to mention the massive amount of information about specific vampires of legend, lore and history that is included in the various sidebars on the pages of the chapter. Many times a sidebar is “oh by the way” type of information. Not in this case!

Chapter 2 delves into the crunchy parts of GURPS that make me love the game so much. A list of character types is provided along with suggested advantages, disadvantages, skills and a brief description. Following this is a list of vampire character types. There are only six types of vampires detailed here, but that’s by no means an exhaustive list. The problem with lists is that they tend to focus and limit player/GM thinking. I think that might be a problem here with this part of the book. Next comes a list of advantages and disadvantages from the Basic book that are likely to be applicable to this setting. Then comes a single new disadvantage along with a handful of new skills. The new skills are merely extensions of existing ones, but they are great guidance for creating a vampire hunter.

Chapter 3 is all about creating the vampires themselves. The detail of thought given to all of the options, powers, advantages, disadvantages, etc. is outstanding. There’s little need to flip back to the Basic book while creating a vampire. Yes, there’s still a need for the Basic book, but a vast majority of the goods needed for making a Big Bad are here in Blood Types.

Since vampires are mystical/magical creatures, there needs to be a chapter on magic as it relates to vampires. Chapter 4 covers this area. Everything from innate magic to aspected magic are covered here. The list of really cool innate magical powers is awesome. It really makes me want to play a vampire, not hunt them! Maybe if I can talk someone into running a GURPS game in which I’m a player, I can play a vampire of some sorts. There’s all sorts of sweet abilities listed here, and the costs really aren’t all that high.

Chapter 5 launches into the bestiary section of the book. I was dubious about this section in thinking that it would just be a list (with stats and such) of different human-based vampires. I was wrong! Between the 23 different types of vampires detailed here, they cover pretty much all of the bases. Up to, and including, a high-tech vampire! Awesome!

Chapter 6 covers the thematic and stylistic elements of running a vampire-based campaign. All of the possible themes I could dream up are covered in exquisite detail here. There are even a great set of adventure seeds/hooks in the sidebars for those folks that look closely enough.

The book rounds off things with a bibliography. Keep in mind the book came out in 1995, so the list is missing more modern references. That’s fine. The vampire legends have been around since the beginnings of time, so the list of references included here will do any GM fine. There are fictional works listed alongside non-fiction works. There’s also a great list of films available for reference as well.

Grade: A+ — All-in-all, this is a great book for anyone considering running a vampire-based game. It doesn’t even have to be a GURPS game! The references and materials included between the covers gives great treatment to the genre and themes. If you’re planning on running a vampire (or similar) game, do yourself a favor and pick this book up. Even if you’re not running GURPS, I suggest picking it up. The crunchy GURPS sections can still be put to use with whatever system you’re running with a little thought and effort.