RogerBW's Blog

Pyramid 100: Pyramid Secrets 23 March 2017

Pyramid, edited by Steven Marsh, is the monthly GURPS supplement containing short articles with a loose linking theme. This time it's a celebration of 100 issues of Pyramid, and various articles that wouldn't fit well elsewhere.

Impulse Control (Christopher R. Rice) extends Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys, particularly looking at "impulse points" (a separate pool of points for doing Impressive Stuff, so that players aren't faced with the choice of doing something neat now or building up their character later). Here there are both Impulse Points and Villainous Points (IP and VP), which cost five points each and regenerate at one per game session… but VP are a _dis_advantage for player characters to take, which grant benefits to the antagonists instead. I've seen this sort of mechanism in indie games (most obviously with fan-mail in Prime Time Adventures) and recent Call of Cthulhu (where luck points spent by the players add to the GM's luck pool for NPCs); clearly it's a popular approach, though I'm rather burned out on it after running Madness Dossier and Torg with purchasable successes; I really prefer rules mechanisms to be as diegetic as possible, i.e. they should be tied to something the character is doing rather than an action that only makes sense to the player. Still, this would work well in a game where such purchases were a regular thing.

Infinite Weapons (Hans-Christian Vortisch) is, unsurprisingly, about guns: specifically, weapons which were never popular (or in some cases even built) in the real world. This sort of thing is a favourite with gamers, and easy targets like the Puckle Gun and the Webley-Fosbery have already been covered (in Low-Tech and High-Tech respectively). But we do get the Gabbett-Fairfax Mars, Mauser P45 "Volkspistole". H&K CAW, Steyr IWS 2000 and Ares FMG, among many others. Each one has notes not only on its own history but on the sort of world-line where it is likely to be popular. Good solid stuff for adding odd historical flavour.

Eidetic Memory: The Galactic Operations Directorate (David L. Pulver) is the background that goes with the chapter vignettes in Ultra-Tech, a highly secret covert operations agency for a star-spanning empire. Now we have Boardroom and Curia to give a format for statistics, which helps. It's all oddly flavourless, perhaps because it's intended to work either as the focus for an action game or as the strong arm of an oppressive empire; even the villainous Yezendi Antimatter Syndicate are basically bootleggers writ more energetic. This is probably better as a source of ideas than as something to be run directly.

Fashion Forward (Matt Riggsby) extends the clothing system from Low-Tech and Dungeon Fantasy 8 to describe more high-tech clothing. I tend to gloss over this level of detail in my games, but if a player ever wants to specify exactly what his character is wearing, I'll know where to look.

Gods of Commerce (Christopher Conrad and Jason "PK" Levine) adds a new sort of deity to Dungeon Fantasy games: the gods of wealth and trade, both light and dark. (I've recently played a cleric of such a god, in a fantasy game with Whartson Hall - but that was under a much lighter set of rules where it was basically incidental detail.) Dungeon Fantasy isn't my thing but this looks well set-up.

Realistic Injury, Expanded (Peter V. Dell'Orto) makes the extended injury system from Martial Arts even more complicated, with permanent injury checks, lasting partial injuries, and expanded hit location effects. If I were running a game about detailed combat, I'd be all over this.

Random Thought Table: Briefly, an Adventure (Steven Marsh) looks into short adventures, both their benefits and good ways of contriving them: setting a real-time limit (particularly with a group that won't get together again, such as at a convention), adding in size only what seems really to enhance the experience, or even having a "highlights" series of mini-adventures consisting more or less only of a "final encounter". It's fairly general, as usual for RTT, but provokes thought.

After a couple of disappointing issues, this is a Pyramid I like, with one article I'll use immediately and several others that are going on my "look this up when you need it" list. Pyramid 100 is available from Warehouse 23.

See also:
Pyramid 77: Combat, edited by Steven Marsh

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