RogerBW's Blog

Pyramid 89: Alternate Dungeons II 05 May 2016

Pyramid is the monthly GURPS supplement containing short articles with a loose linking theme. This time it's about alternative framings of the dungeon again.

Havens and Hells (Sean Punch) is a development of a post on the SJ Games forums from some years ago, a world in which video-game-style respawning is a way of life. There are towns ("havens") which are magically protected from the monsters of chaos outside, and when someone dies he's automatically brought back to life (for player characters, at the nearest haven). The good-vs-evil approach and limitation to tiny settlements means that this is strictly a game of humans against monsters, with no factionalisation possible. PCs are Collectors, who go out to gather resources to keep the havens working. There's no money or social status, and many of the other elements of the traditional fantasy campaign are stripped away in order to keep the focus on the lone heroes. I can't see myself running this any time soon, though it's a good example of building a different fantasy setting.

Eastern Adventures (Christopher R. Rice) is the Oriental Adventures of Dungeon Fantasy. It's not quite wholeheartedly Dungeon Fantasy, though, as it does suggest the possibility of buying non-DF traits such as Games, Artist, Social Regard and so on. There are tweaks to all the standard templates, a Samurai lens to add to the Knight or Swashbuckler templates, and various notes on tweaking DF for a Chinese/Japanese background. The main thing missing is monsters and adventures, in other words ways of making your game feel Eastern as opposed to just dropping samurai into a generic fantasyland the way ninja have already been dropped. This article does rather point up the limitations of DF (one of the things about a samurai is that he is an important person in his society, and stock DF can't do that), and I was never much of a fan of OA in the first place; I don't think I'm likely to use this. Designer's notes here.

Eidetic Memory: The Titan's House (David L. Pulver) is, well, a dungeon, but one built to roughly 5× scale – complete with giant chickens and bees. For people looking for a dungeon, well, this is a dungeon.

Random Thought Table: The Secret of the Explorers (Steven Marsh) twists the basis of dungeon-bashing: there's a general agreement between humanity and monsters to leave each other alone, and player characters threaten that by kick down doors, killing monsters and taking loot. Adventuring becomes a covert activity, because fellow humans will try to stop them, and if they succeed the monsters will come back and kill other humans.

Short Bursts: Five Best Places to Nearly Get Killed Before You Die! (Matt Riggsby) is more tie-in material for Car Wars (it gives short descriptions of five arenas). Author's notes here.

This is all competently done, and I like the experimental format of fewer and more substantial articles, but the dungeon bash isn't my preferred style of play. If I do ever run The Turbulent Century I may use some of the Random Thought Table, but that's not on my schedule for the immediate future. Pyramid 89 is available from Warehouse 23.

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