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Pyramid 85: Cutting Edge 26 December 2015

Pyramid is the monthly GURPS supplement containing short articles with a loose linking theme. This time it's the near now, things that are just barely possible or not quite possible yet.

Training for the Tech (Phil Masters) adds to existing material on gun combat styles in TL9 and TL10 campaigns; older styles have already been considered, but this article gives details on the styles that aren't possible before the advent of handheld smart weapons, with some new style perks to make homing missiles more effective, the Disk Bouncing technique to make saucer grenades more accurate, and three new styles: Captivator (specialising in non-lethal restraint weapons), Missileer (light guided missiles), and Support Shotgunner (exotic slug loads for a weapon that would otherwise be obsolete). High quality, high applicability: there's an obvious connection to Transhuman Space, but any high-tech game with military levels of combat will benefit from these options.

Remixing the Rocker (Jon Black) looks at the future of music: when pitch correction is available to everyone, does the uncorrected authentic performance return to a premium position? Can VR revitalise the music video? What happens if a record company really can predict hits in advance? Does a digital songwriter need to be sapient to produce good original work, or only to think that it's sapient? This is quite a long article with very little rules content; rather, it's full of good ideas on how to use music in games set in the future. High quality, medium applicability, though I may yet find a way to work it into a game.

Eidetic Memory: Cutting-Edge Armor Design (David L. Pulver) adds high-tech armour materials to the piecemeal armour design system found in GURPS Low-Tech. Disappointingly, it doesn't use the materials from Ultra-Tech but rather its own much more detailed list. Nothing goes beyond TL9, but for gritty games where the exact coverage and donning time of a piece of armour matters this will be helpful. High quality, low applicability; I find I don't really need this level of detail in the games I run.

Free Falling (Timothy Ponce) considers lack of gravity, and the effects it has on the human body. A bit like my own GURPS Fathom Five, it runs through physiological effects, activities and combat; it then lists existing and new traits that are relevant to a campaign that will take place substantially in zero-gravity environments. There are also a couple of new martial arts styles. High quality, high applicability; this is a handy reference in one place to rules that can be a bit scattered, and adds useful new material.

Random Thought Table: Forward Thinking (Steven Marsh) considers how crowdsourcing could become relevant to a game, and how the increasing ease of research might lead to GM assistant software that can dig out real-world information based on location. Medium quality, low applicability: these are interesting ideas but there's not room to develop them.

Short Bursts: White Gold (Matt Riggsby) is a short piece of fiction connected with the upcoming Car Wars edition. No game content, and more of a scene than a story.

Appendix Z: The Perky L33t (Christopher R. Rice) lists seven new perks for (cinematic) netrunners, giving various minor benefits. Medium quality, low applicability: this doesn't inspire me to return to netrunning as a concept the way W.A. Frick's Console Cowboys and Cyberspace Kung Fu, which this article extends, did. (Designer's notes here.)

In spite of a slight let-down towards the end, there's some very solid material here, and I expect this to be one of the issues I use quite a bit. Pyramid 85 is available from Warehouse 23.

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