What do you think of when you envision a normal day at a University? Do you think of UFO's, time travellers, nuclear-powered lawnmowers, gamboling mages, and unpredictable explosions? Do you think of rips in time and space, spells flying left and right, bizarre inventions, and general mayhem and weirdness?
If not, you're not thinking of Illuminati University.
For those not in the know, IOU stands for Illuminati University. (Don't ask what the O stands for.) Illuminati University is quite probably the strangest, silliest, and most exciting institute of higher learning on the planet...if it is on the planet, that is. (IOU's location tends to vary from moment to moment.)
GURPS IOU is the place where you can use your wildest character concepts. Go ahead, take any idea from any worldbook and incorporate it in your IOU freshthing. (A wave of political correctness -- and multiple alien battlefleets -- have eliminated the speciesist "freshman.") You'll probably blend right in -- it is almost impossible to have an Unusual Background at IOU. To quote the book, "Raised by Orthodox Jewish ninja werewolves doesn't even come close."
The book has a few new additions that your character can have...nothing like the Weird Science skill or the ever-popular Ridiculous Luck. You can play anything from freshthings for those 100 point campaigns on up through graduate students at 250 to full professors at around 350 points. If you're really planning on breaking out the weirdness, I suggest a campaign level of 200 points -- enough to support superheroes, budding mages, or interesting aliens, but not enough to be wholly unstoppable.
As you can probably tell, the setting is the main focus of GURPS IOU. If you're looking for a humorous campaign, this is probably as good as you're going to get. The really great part of IOU is that you can incorporate any gaming material that you own without even working hard. Just slap 'em right in there -- as new students, hazards, or use the traditional "fell through the dimensional portal" routine.
The course catalog, the list of Personalities, and the list of Places are really inspirational. If you can't think up a plot for your adventure from these, you can probably have a fun adventure just having your PCs interact with some of the strange characters around campus. Sessions have just enough silliness to be funny without degenerating into TOON-style adventures where the players all forget the objective.
Of course, every book has its downsides. IOU's first is its lists of creatures and equipment. None of these are really exciting; engineering student PCs will probably come up with their own neat toys and potential adversaries are easy to find in other material.
The only other potential downside is the system. GURPS is perfect for character generation at IOU, and you can utilize the system's full diversity. However, GMs will have to turn the Cinematic Knob up to its highest to let the game seem at its proper tone. Use all the optional cinematic rules and play fast and loose with reality. (Encourage all the PCs to have the Luck advantage.)
The art is very appropriate. The book is illustrated by Phil and Kaja Foglio, who have done a fine job of giving us a tour around campus. (Look for the hidden crossover on page 41.)
Overall, if you're looking for comedic roleplaying, this is a great option. A few years ago, I didn't play GURPS. Oh, I had tried it once, for a one-shot of GURPS Space, but never since, and I wasn't really enthusiastic about it. I found this book on the shelf, and sat down and read it for half an hour. Illuminati University was what brought me back to GURPS, and it's the campaign I have running now.
Just wait until the young Jedi, the action hero, the gadgeteer, and Gollum meet Alexander the Great...
Style: 5 (Excellent!)