Saturday, July 11, 2020

The Basics of Using GCS

Someone on a Discord server I frequent was attempting to learn the ropes of GCS, and was unimpressed with the level of documentation available on how to actually utilize the program.

I've been using GCS for years as I've found it to be a very convenient and powerful tool for making character sheets. I consider myself a bit of a GCS power user, so here's the start of what may become a series of posts on the basics of using the program. (In fact, part 2 dealing with equipment is now up!)

When you first create a new character sheet, you'll be presented with a blank sheet filled with some pregenerated character fluff (Height, weight, eye color, etc), and baseline GURPS stats.

Click to Expand

Of note, the Master Library contains the bits and pieces you'll most likely want to add to a character sheet- advantages, disadvantages, and skills. The libraries for Basic Set Advantages and Basic Set Skills will likely be where you'll spend the majority of your time searching for what you want to add to your characters.

Most tabs will have a blank line at the top that functions as a search bar, as well as a drop-down that usually filters by categories.

I've typed warp into the Basic Set Advantages Library here

On a character sheet, blue text means that that field can be directly edited. The fields for your stats (ST, DX, IQ, etc) will decrement unspent points appropriately as they are increased. Additionally, GCS will update derived stats appropriately (increasing DX will increase related skills, and basic speed calculation, for instance).

Some traits have way more modifiers
than others...
To add something from a library to the character sheet, you can either drag and drop it onto the sheet, or hit CTRL+SHIFT+C. Depending on the trait being carried over, a dialog box might open with modifiers related to the trait- CR ratings for disadvantages, enhancements for advantages, etc.

To edit a trait in GCS, either double-click on it, or select it and hit enter.

For advantages and disadvantages, the top portion contains fields for how to price the trait, as well as fields that help with categorizing it.

The dialog window that opens will also usually include the following tabs for most traits, including equipment:
  • Prerequisites- These will turn a trait red if your character fails to have the listed traits. (Example: Cinematic combat skills without Trained by a Master or Weapon Master.)
  • Features- These are how you can tell GCS that an advantage should give a modifier to a character- such as voice improving reaction modifiers and giving bonuses to certain skills, combat reflexes increasing defense scores, or the damage increase Striking ST gives to attacks
  • Modifiers- these are the limitations and enhancements present on numerous advantages and disadvantages
  • Melee Weapon and Ranged Weapon- these tabs allow you to specify that an attack should appear on your character's sheet, and allow you to define the statistics of those attacks
  • User description is a field that allows for entering notes.
Skills have largely the same dialog window, but have a tab for Skill Defaults, and the top portion has different fields specific to skills, which I'll drill down deeper into in a future post.


  1. This is great, thank you! I've made about a dozen characters using GCS and I still keep finding clever new features and ways of using it. I wish I'd had something like this post when I was first learning to use it, and I hope you keep writing more posts about more advanced usage!

  2. I agree--this is good post, and I also had to learn a lot by experimentation. I really think a YouTube video would be great. I've toyed around with making one, but every time I think about it, work rears its ugly head (often very busy, but in the last few months, incredibly busy).

    I don't know how people use class templates, but I never copy them all over...I just put in four "containers" (Advantages, Disadvantages, Quirks, Skills, sometimes Spells if needed) and then, with the template open, copy over what I need (drag and drop). Or I have the "Advantages" or "Skills" libraries open and use the shortcut key to copy them over.

  3. I'm wondering, how do you add a modifier to natural attack when using a gauntlet for +1 damage?

  4. This is very helpful. I agree that a video would be helpful for many, but I prefer text with screenshots, so this is exactly my speed! I'm eager to see more like this.

  5. Please continue this series! This is a 'godsend' to those of us who don't want to deal with TSR anymore.

  6. I've only just been pointed at this series. Are the two posts all you have so far? I would very much like to know how I can modify the hit location chart to reflect the changes in Low-Tech (Abdomen instead of Groin at 11, the subdivisions of Face, Arm, Leg, and Abdomen, the addition of Pelvis—which last location is also in Tactical Shooting) and Martial Arts (a lot of new hit locations). I tried to find that in the existing libraries, but it doesn't seem to be there and it isn't given as an option that I can find in the Settings.