Saturday, August 23, 2014

Review: Pyramid 3/70: Fourth Edition Festival

Here is a brief review of Pyramid 3/70: Fourth Edition Festival.

The central conceit of this issue is celebrating the 10th anniversary of GURPS 4th Edition by having authors of major GURPS books (well, those that had the time to get an article in before the deadline) look at something they did before, in light of books that came out later. Basically, what else could you do with what you wrote if all this stuff was out already?

Destination: Abydos by David Pulver.

Remember when I reviewed this and said it would be interesting but need tweaking in Dungeon Fantasy? David Pulver wrote those tweaks.

This article looks at the city of heretics (and zombies) and tells you how to run it with Dungeon Fantasy tropes. And what counts as suitable dungeons, too. If you liked GURPS Abydos, and you like DF, you'll love this.

Not only that, but he also turns in full GURPS Mass Combat stats for Abydos's legions and those of their foes. Time for a war . . . maybe led by some DF vets.

Ten for Ten by Sean Punch.

This one is fascinating - it's 10 rules (plus 2 extras, plus 9 honorable mentions) that could have/should have made it into the Basic Set, had they been around when Basic Set was written.

Douglas Cole will be pleased, because his playtest-time suggestion for a Tactics rule made it into GURPS Martial Arts, and it's called out here as one of the Big 10.

I'm deeply flattered, because Sean took the Loyalty rules I wrote up (well, dramatically expanded from Basic Set) and suggestd they'd made a good addition to the Ally rules. Wow, that's awesome.

Other rules I deeply enjoy using - Complementary Skills, the Alternative Benefits for Talents, Team Efforts, and the TDS from Martial Arts - all made it in, too.

Gaming in the Ancien Regime by William H. Stoddard

Bill Stoddard famously (well, in GURPS online circles) ran a game centered around fencers in France. He used GURPS Martial Arts extensively, but also created many rules for the social engagements of those swordsmen. Angling for rank, social cutting, impressing people, etc. - all of that came from here and became GURPS Social Engineering. So Bill takes a look at what happens if he spun around and had the final rules in place when he started that game and how it would all look in light of GURPS Social Engineering.

It's a nice way to look at how to combine the social and martial in a game where sticking someone with your sword isn't necessarily the whole point of dueling.

Into the Wilderness by Matt Riggsby

Matt Riggsby takes Dungeon Fantasy: Adventure 1 and looks at it in light of Dungeon Fantasy 16: Wilderness Adventures. You get a few loadouts, and a random encounter chart tied to the many hazards highlighted in DF16, and specific recommendations for using DF16 in the desert around the fire demon's lair.

It's excellent, and improves on an already fine adventure - one that served as a "one-shot" that turned into my current multi-year DF game.

Elemental Xia Champions vs. The Shenguai by Jason "PK" Levine

Jason Levine wrote GURPS Monster Hunters. Then, later, Bill Stoddard wrote GURPS Thaumatology: Chinese Elemental Powers. And here PK combines them into a Xia-centered game fighting ancient Chinese monsters!

So if the idea of 400-point Xia tickles your fancy, and you want to fight nine-headed snakes and demons and poisonfeather birds using your five-element powers again them . . . yeah, this is awesome.

Horde Ninja by me.

I wrote this one, so I can't say much about it aside from it being Ninjas-as-monsters, and has a rule explaining why the last ninja from the pack are always the hardest to defeat.

Why I wrote this one is interesting. When the issue was first proposed, I said I'd write something, please get back to me. Steven Marsh and Sean Punch did, and said the deadline was approaching, what did I have?

Well, nothing. And after wracking my brains for a day, I couldn't think of anything a) fast, b) tight, and c) easily doable. So I asked for suggestions - and Steven shot off an amazing email full of things he'd like to see from me, and Sean punch drilled the list down even further. From there, the idea of looking at DF12 in light of what we put into DF15 and DFM1 was a natural. I pulled The Last Ninja Rule down from where it was sitting half-written for a couple years, and bang. It was concept to finished in days. With the right inspiration, I can write well and quickly, and Sean and Steven supplied that in spades.

Revisting High-Tech by Hans-Christian Vortisch

Hans wrote High Tech back in 2007, but 7 years later, Hans shows ways he'd have done things differently in retrospect. It's short but to the point. He hits two topics:

- how machine pistols are handled in the game

- another way to do shotgun pellets instead of the sometimes troublesome rules from Basic Set.

Random Thought Table by Steven Marsh

Steven Marsh takes a look at rules from 8 different books, and suggests ways to build an adventure if not a campaign around them. My favorite? That he highlights "Faking It" from Martial Arts - the rules look at people pretending to know kung-fu. Heh. Hilarity ensues.

Odds and Ends

There is a bit here from Steven Marsh explaining how he comes up with his RTTs, and a City Stats look at Paris by Bill Stoddard - in the era of the Ancien Regime, of course.

Overall, I'm pleased with this Pyramid and I'm very proud I'm in it.

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