GURPS JCSP Template/Meta-Trait Tutorial

In this tutorial you will create a Vampire template. We will follow the template found in Basic Set: Characters, pg. 262.


  1. Overview
  2. Attributes and Secondary Characteristics in a template
  3. Advantages and Disadvantages
  4. Other Template Features
  5. Saving and Using the Template


The technique used by JCSP for creating templates is to make a character sheet with all of the attributes, traits, skills, etc. found in the template and then save it in a special way. There are three ways to save a template, depending on how you want to use it.

Attributes and Secondary Characteristics in a template

Attribute Modifiers and Secondary Characteristic Modifiers in the template can be put into the template character sheet in the natural way, as if they are character attributes and secondary characteristics. For the Vampire template, this means that we can just put 60 points in the ST attribute, 8 points in the HP (Hit Points) secondary characteristic, and 15 points in the Perception secondary characteristic.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Vampires have two Alternate Forms, Bat and Wolf, which are 15 point advantages. Still in the Ads/Disads dialog, scroll to Alternate Form and type 'Bat' in the description and take the trait, then type 'Wolf' in the description and take it again. Take Doesn't Breathe with no modifiers. Take Dominance with the description of 'Vampiric Bite'. The Immunity to Metabolic Hazards advantage is really a version of the Resistant trait; scroll there, type 'Metabolic Hazards' in the Description box, tick the 'Very Common' modifier radio button, and also tick the 'Immunity' multiplier radio button. Take Resistant.

The other Vampiric advantages and disadvantages should be similar.

Other Template Features

The Vampire template consists only of Attributes, Secondary Characteristics, and Traits, along with one Feature (Sterile). A template can have many other kinds of components. Skills are packaged by the JCSP template machinery, but not every character component is. In general, check to see if there is a Trait you can use to add a characteristic that is normally not a Trait when creating a template; Traits are guaranteed to get packaged when you create a template. For instance, there is a Size Modifier Trait; if you use this instead of indicating the SM directly on the character sheet, it will get packaged into the template. The safest way to make sure the Vampiric feature Sterile gets included is to add it as a zero-point custom Trait.

Saving and Using the Template

Before you save or use the template, you should type 'Vampire' in the character information area Name field. This name will be used to name the template when it is saved. Go to File → Save As Template. This dialog gives you two options as to how you can save or use the template you've made.

If this template is a one-off, and you're building it so you can use it for a new character that you are ready to create next, choose the apply to a new character option. With this option chosen, when you click on the Save button, the sheet will 'reset', with a new character loaded, except that this character will have the new template as a trait.

If you plan to create several characters immediately using this template, but then you will not need it again, you should choose the load into the 'Use a Template' menu (temporary) option. After you click Save, you will find that the new template appears in the dialog menu you get when you go to Build → Use a Template. You can now create a new character, select this template, build and save, and repeat. As long as you keep this window/tab open, the template will be available when building characters. When you close (or refresh) the window/tab, the new template will be discarded.

If you want the new template to be available for use indefinitely, choose the last option, export as a template file. A 'template file' is really just a JCSP character file, like any other. Saving a template this way doesn't pack the traits and stuff into a template yet. When you want to use a saved 'template', you just open the template file like it was a character (you will see all the traits, skills etc. that are part of this template), and then go to Build → Save As Template and choose the first option (apply to a new character) or second option (load into the 'Use a Template' menu (temporary)) to pack it up for your new character(s).