[GURPS I.S.T. Cover]The world of the I.S.T.s, as presented in GURPS International Super Teams from Steve Jackson Games, was inspired by a Villains and Vigilantes campaign called "Warriors' World" which has been running in the New Brunswick, New Jersey area since the middle of the 1980s. It was solely by accident that the V&V campaign became a GURPS worldbook -- an accident that I won't go into here.

(For a little bit of insight into Warriors' World, and how it differs from the IST World, the interested reader might want to check out my "Drunkard's Walk" story series, available on its own page. While it doesn't actually take place in Warriors' World, the main character is from there, and his attitudes and assumptions are strongly shaped by it. Although it is not the "canonical" Warriors' World, the reader can still gather quite a bit about the setting through the main character's thoughts.)

In the process of developing and publishing the worldbook, and during the course of the test campaign which I ran, additional material relevant to the game world was generated, which I present below. Some of this material has never been seen by anyone outside of SJ Games before now.

One final tidbit for those of you who really care about such things: The UN superforces were not called "International Super Teams" in my original manuscript for SJ Games. I called them "International Strike Teams". It was someone at SJG who changed the name... Not that I mind. I just thought it was a historical detail that might interest someone.

IST on the Net

For a look at an interesting game setting inspired by and incorporating IST material (but not very much like it at all, oddly enough), check out the World of the Valiants. (Please be patient -- this is a Wayback Machine link, to the latest copy in their archive; the actual site itself seems to have vanished some time between November 2002 and November 2003.)

There's also IST Ottawa, and Legion Earth where an alien race invaded on New Year's Day 2000.

And if you're into MMORPGs, the Virtue server for City of Heroes is home to the supergroup "I.S.T. Paragon City".

IST Fanfiction

For many years I have been openly encouraging and looking for IST fanfiction. I had no luck until early 2004, when a reader on my discussion forum posted (on behalf of the actual author) excerpts from two of the following pieces. These samples were just too good to ignore, and I (and other members of the forums) begged for more. I finally asked the author, Shayne Dark of Ottawa, Canada, to allow me to include them as part of my semi-official IST site, and he graciously agreed.

Please note that these stories aren't set in a canon IST universe. Instead, they blend together IST, the Street Fighter game world, and at least a few elements of the Wild Cards series of books -- among many other influences. Any way you look at it, though, they are a hell of a fun read.


In the Spring of 2002, a very active thread on the IST world developed in rec.games.frp.gurps on Usenet, born out of posts by Joseph Justice about his IST campaign set during the late 1990s and using the expanded timeline you can link to above. As a side effect, a lot of questions were asked about obscure points in the IST world, and I tried to answer what I could. There were some particularly salient queries that I thought were worth adding to the page, so that folks without Usenet access could see these answers.

Similarly, several years later, another reader found my discussion forums and posed further questions. Again, several were worth repeating here.

How long a hitch do IST members sign up for?
An IST member enlists for an initial three-year term as a member, with the timer on that three years starting after they get out of Basic. After that, they can re-up for additional 2-year terms if they so choose. Former members can come back to the IST and re-enlist, if they choose, without any particular penalty, except those discharged dishonorably. Anyone who leaves the IST for any reason other than dishonorable discharge does not lose their rank; they are simply considered "inactive" and will regain that rank if/when they return to active service.

What if they had to actually investigate something, instead of just going out and fighting? Do they have people with detective skills at the embassies?
Of course. Embassy teams are expected to have a wide variety of talents in addition to basic diplomatic and military abilities. Although in most cases they are supposed to support local law enforcement, not supplant it, it doesn't hurt if they have some of the necessary skills themselves.

Americans who become officers in a foreign military can be tried for treason, according to a little-known law. How does this affect American supers in the IST, since all IST members are considered officers (GURPS Rank 4 and above)?
The Executive Order issued by then-President Carter, which brought the US into compliance with the Edicts of 1982, included a passage which specifically exempts American members of the IST from this law. If relations between the US and the UN were to deteriorate so far that this Order were to be rescinded, the President at the time would likely give Americans in the IST a "grace period" during which they could resign their IST commissions or simply go AWOL.

This answer assumes that the IST counts as a foreign military organization. While a convincing argument can be made for this assumption, it's possible that in some games the IST may be no more a military force than, say, Interpol. In such a case, there is no need to exempt American supers from the law in question. Of course, if the nature of the IST changes over time...

How old you have to be to join the IST?
Eighteen years of age. There are, of course, exceptions.

Can an IST embassy grant political asylum?

Does the IST accept interns?
Yes, although they must be sponsored by a U.N. member nation, and must pass at least a minimal security check. Interns are never assigned duties that take them into truly sensitive areas, but do frequently interact with both embassy supers and the public.

GURPS International Super Teams has long been out of print, but you can still order it through Amazon.com. Go to my bookstore via the link in the menu above if you want to try to get your hands on a copy. If you don't need to have a physical paper edition, you can get a copy of the book in PDF form from Steve Jackson Games' online store, e23, for a very reasonable price.

[Go To Steve Jackson Games]

This page was created on October 1, 1997.
Last modified August 25, 2011.