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GURPS: Mars Attacks! RPG Review

Pulp Pulpit

Mars Attacks!

Publisher: Steve Jackson Games

Publication Date: 2016

Writer: Jason Levine

The 'Mars Attacks' trading cards by Topps have come a long way since they were first introduced in 1962. The cards, which parodied the kitschy science fiction movies of the 1950s', have spawned a variety of merchandise and a Tim Burton film.

Last December, Steve Jackson Games released a pen-and-paper roleplaying supplement based off the franchise for use with their generic GURPS roleplaying system. The hardcover supplement looks great with color illustrations from The Topps Company, Inc. and a suitably garish cover by Alex Fernandez.

The contents include logistical and color details of the background setting. GURPS statistics for vehicles, weapons and various alien creatures are provided. There are some nice touches here such as a Martian name generator (yes, you are allowed the option of playing Martians -- including ones altered to appear human) and the military strategies involved in dropping hordes of giant mutant insects on populated areas. There are also reasonably detailed racial and occupational character creation guidelines, although like many GURPS supplements it references other supplements from the line for expanded details -- you only need the basic set to play, but having other supplements such GURPS Aliens is considered helpful if you want to play alien resistance fighters from the Tiger Corps that are battling the Martians, for example (the book provides information on a race called the Elorians, but refers to other supplements for playing other races).

The book also includes a timeline of the invasion as well as information on which countries were hit the hardest and how human resistance has manifested throughout the world. Game masters can hypothetically run it in modern times or during the 1950s. The book is a great read regardless of whether you run a game from it.

Role players seeking to play or run in a science fiction game, particularly one with a period slant, should love this game (it seems like it would be particularly well-paired with GURPS Atomic Horror). Although the writers seem to try steering readers towards other supplements, it can be run on its own and still yield a variety of campaign options.

A free, condensed version of GURPS rules can be found here.

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