[GURPs] Converting Morrowind

I am tentatively toying with the idea of using the GURPs system to run a game set in Morrowind. One of the reasons I love that game is it takes the normal fantasy world and turns it on its head. Instead of distant archer elves living in the ancient forests, you have aggressively meritocratic mage elves living in giant mushrooms. Instead of knights in shining armour living in a stone castle, you have swordmen in bone armour living instead the shell of a dead kaiju crab. Instead of loading your mule to follow the grassing sheep, you’re following herds of giant shimmering beetles as your bipedal reptilian packbeast carries your gear. Although somehow your starting character will still find themselves stabbing unusually large rats for early XP.

The advantages of using either mainland Morrowind or the big island of Vvardenfell (which, confusingly, is where all the action of the Morrowind game is actually set) is that it’s a lovely sandbox with plenty of things for a player to go and do. The downsides are there are a lot of things for players to do, and almost all of the monsters would need to be statted from scratch.

Admittedly one of the reasons I’m tempted to give it a go is that I don’t feel I know the GURPs system very well and this would be an excellent way of learning more of what I’m doing, so even if I don’t end up using it for a game it’ll be good practise. And maybe inspiration will strike and I’ll be able to file the serial numbers off and turn bits of it into something less derivative, but for now I think I need the framework of an existing setting to stop me getting overwhelmed.

Every Elder Scrolls game plays a bit differently and messes with the mechanics, so I’m going to pick and choose which I use and throw some out entirely. Brainstorming some of what I’d need to start with:

  • A magic system. This is a big one. I like the Elder Scrolls system of several schools of magic and how raising ‘Alteration’ improves every spell in that school. I’ll need to do some research on what works best since I’ve never used GURPs magic personally. Any suggestions where to start?
  • Monsters! I don’t have much trouble with the advantages and abilities for animals, but figuring out what basic stat levels they should have is hard. Maybe I should grab that Pyramid issue on calculating CER.
  • Racial templates. I’ll need to figure out the magic system first, I suspect. I’m skipping the star signs entirely; if a player wants to play a character specifically influenced by one (I’m thinking Shadowscales and those born under the Astronach) I’ll address it then.
  • Equipment. Shouldn’t be too hard, I suspect DF covers most of what I need. May just end up renaming some of the special materials or adding those on top, like defining special traits of ‘Glass’ weapons
  • Organisations? They’ll be important, but there are a lot of them, and I could probably get by with descriptions until players decide to start interacting with someone.

I should probably start by digging through my box of books and seeing which ones I actually have, and then consider which new ones I may need to buy.



  1. The magic system can probably be done with wildcard colleges if you like using the GURPS vanilla system. Another alternative is having several types of one-college magery available.

    Similarly if you want to use Sorcery, you can have multi-college sorcerous empowerment, and then single college talents.


  2. Ironically, TES began as a D&D setting ages ago.

    For magic, look into “Ritual Magery” in Thaumatology (not Ritual Path, mind). It lets you raise a school as a skill, and have your spells as techniques defaulting to it. See also Pee Kitty’s houserule that improves the default – RAW they are a bit harsh and don’t really facilitate actually learning spells.

    Races: GURPS Fantasy has a fair few you can lean on.

    Signs: Just talents and advantages I’d think? But I can see doing away with them.


  3. Hm, my prior post seems to have gone MIA. Well, to your big point magic. Check Thumatology for Ritual Magery (not Ritual Path) and look into Rev. Pee Kitty’s MyGURPS page for his alteration, which improves the system. It’s as Morrowind does it, where you raise the school (and spells default to your skill in the school like techniques).

    Races, check Fantasy.


  4. Jonathan Maw

    I ran an Elder Scrolls GURPSy game, using the standard GURPS magic system, but moved as many spells as I could be bothered into new spell colleges (though I left the prerequisites mostly the same).
    If sorcery was out by that point, I would have moved to that instead, as it generally expressed what Elder Scrolls magic felt like better, in my opinion.
    The main reason was casting time – throwing firebolts around is fast in Morrowind, but it feels painfully slow in GURPS if you have to cast the spell, optionally put more energy in it, then throw it.

    As for equipment, I knocked together a script to generate a huge table of armour based on low-tech, plus a table of how I think various materials affect cost, weight and effectiveness http://richard.maw.name/cgit/cgit.cgi/personal/jonathanmaw/esgurps.git/tree/scripts/armour
    The actual numbers I used for it all were plucked from the aether by a newbie GM, though, so there was very little balance in them.
    For the feeling of equipment progression, I’d recommend restricting stating wealth at least enough to prevent players getting kitted out in as much steel gear as they want out of the gate.


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