The Fate Accessibility Toolkit, or why it'll take me a while to really play GURPS again

First off I would like to state that I have loved GURPS as a game. I have evangelized it for a while and still consider it one of the most solid systems for modeling games that focus on physical reality.

That said I think that the Fate Accessibility Toolkit is going to make playing GURPS a lot more challenging for me simply because it pointed out one of the things that I just accepted about the system as true without really questioning what I was accepting.

The Fate Accessibility Toolkit is a supplement for the Fate Roleplaying Game. It was pitched by Elsa Sjunneson-Henry to Evil Hat Productions as a bridge that "brings characters with disabilities into your game and supports players with disabilities at your table." Too often roleplaying games with disabilities tend to focus on what a character can't do (losing a limb, temporary blindness, loss of sanity, etc.) and not what the character is still capable of doing. Disabilities in games tend to sideline characters until they are "made whole" again, either through fantastical medicine or through some other form of treatment.

At the beginning of the book Elsa makes her purpose very plain: "As a game designer, I feel like the biggest gift I can give to players is the ability to see yourself in the universe you play in. We aren't yet at the point where disability inclusion in games is universal. It’s not seamless, and it could be. Disabled players still can’t just play disabled characters because the tools aren't there: it’s negative point scores, possibilities for death just because you use a wheelchair—in fact, there aren't even mechanics for how wheelchairs work in most games. They’re vehicles, and they should have their own rules.". This reminded me a lot of my experiences creating a character for GURPS. In order to stay below the magic point number I had to take some disadvantages to offset the advantages, quirks, and skills that I wanted my character to have. A disadvantage like "Bad Smell" is 10 points. "Bad Eyesight" (needing glasses) is 25 points, but "Blindness" is 50 points. "Flight" as an advantage is 40 points (assuming that your GM and your character can support it). "Mind Control" as an advantage is 50 points. So GURPS as a game considers blindness as a high-level disadvantage. "Deafness" is a 20 point disadvantage. (Never mind that GURPS also puts all of their mobility disadvantages under the "Klutz" disadvantage) (Actually, GURPS puts a good number of mobility items under the "Lame" disadvantage, with the caveat that this is only for character races that have legs).

I'm not here to pick on GURPS in particular. GURPS has a long history of trying to model the world we live in and a "give and take" idea of balance in the system. It's an idea where you are not going to create perfect characters and each character will have interesting flaws that the GM can use in the game. But what it does is it sends a signal to those who are disabled that what they're going through is simply there to help keep characters from being too powerful and too perfect.

I'm looking forward to reading more of the Fate Accessibility Tooklit. I recommend it for all game designers and folk who are welcoming to those who aren't like them. Evil Hat is trying to raise funds to purchase artwork for the book so please consider picking up a copy of the book for your collection.