RogerBW's Blog

Pyramid 84: Perspectives 22 November 2015

Pyramid is the monthly GURPS supplement containing short articles with a loose linking theme. This time it's a collection of unusual ways of looking at things.

The Long and the Short of It (Sean Punch) considers time: more specifically, very short and very long campaigns. The short game (and particularly the one-shot) needs to be pared down, with traits that won't come into play ruthlessly removed from the character, or at least reduced to zero-point features so that the character's points are spent on things that make them interesting within the scope of the adventure. Conversely, a particularly long-running campaign has much more book-keeping, but also more world-building and change over time. The article goes on to deal with spatial scope too, with campaigns that always stay in one small place and others that span galaxies and timelines. This is an excellent article, which also mentions which rules a GM is likely to need to have immediately to hand, and in fact it's good advice to any GM thinking about setting up a campaign, even one that's not especially large or small. High quality, high applicability.

Eidetic Memory: The Disappearance of Father Cohen (David L. Pulver) is a modern horror adventure: a priest has suddenly taken a leave of absence, and his replacement calls in the PCs to look into it. Depending on which leads they follow up, they may see the missing man as a good guy or a bad one. It's a bit unfocused when it comes to the end, and would need a bit of hacking, but it's definitely usable. High quality, medium applicability.

Heroes on the Mass Scale (Christopher R. Rice) puts individual fighters onto the Mass Combat battlefield, in a bit more detail than that book allows for. This also allows for extremely powerful monsters and vehicles. High quality, low applicability: I don't seem to run games where mass combat is important, and when I do they tend not to involve vastly powerful individuals. Mind you, if I ever run The Turbulent Century… Designer's notes here.

The Elvey Institute (Steven Marsh) is a group that takes the long view, predicting the future in detail and making changes now to make it better. Its method of prediction is purposely left vague, though well-specified as to what it can and can't do; it's present mostly as a source of quirky missions for player characters or a target of conspiracy theorists. Medium quality, low applicability: what's here is good, but it's pretty minimal and would need a lot of expansion to be the centrepiece of a campaign. It wouldn't be as much fun if it were on the periphery.

Random Thought Table: Look Out… Outlooks! (Steven Marsh) considers more twists on games: high-powered Action heroes in a world with superpowers, gods disgused as men, the redefinition of a power source, and reframing enemies (either reforming them or making them just the harbingers or something worse). What I'd like to have seen here is an acknowledgement that suddenly changing things about a campaign can rub players wrong in many ways, but this is still a thought-provoking piece. Medium quality, medium applicability.

For me the Sean Punch piece is the real prize here, with the other material being a bit more specialised though quite possibly more applicable to players other than me. Pyramid 84 is available from Warehouse 23.


  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 02:11pm on 27 November 2015

    I bought this based on your recommendation. While the Sean Punch article is excellent, I don't see it's applicability to me as a player. I've felt this about several issues of Pyramid, they seem much more useful to GMs. Which makes the market for them even smaller.

  2. Posted by DP at 07:59am on 29 November 2015

    I enjoyed reading the review - thanks!

    The Pyramid theme was a bit more diffuse than usual.

  3. Posted by RogerBW at 09:11am on 29 November 2015

    Welcome, DP!

    I suspect this was an example of having a bunch of good articles, each of which would fit in a different conventional "theme", but not enough in any single theme to fill an issue.

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