RogerBW's Blog

Pyramid 103: Setbacks 24 May 2017

Pyramid, edited by Steven Marsh, is the monthly GURPS supplement containing short articles with a loose linking theme. This time it's things that go wrong for player characters.

Mad as Bones (Christopher R. Rice) is another sanity system for GURPS, following the Stress and Derangement mechanics from GURPS Horror and my own lightweight approach. This one repurposes fatigue mechanics, including the long-term fatigue system from GURPS After the End, to assess stability costs for various hazards. I'm not entirely convinced that bringing in a whole new meter for PCs that events can wear down is a great solution, but if you want this kind of mechanistic approach it's competently done.

Monsters' Minions (Michele Armellini) lists stats for various sorts of low-level bad guy working for a bigger villain: the nameless minion, the muscleman, the collaborator, and so on. They're not very generic, but they do fit the sort of modern-ish occult-ish horror-ish campaign that I like to run, so I'll get some immediate use out of them.

Eidetic Memory: Spaceship Malfunctions (David L. Pulver) is some lightweight rules for when malfunctions should happen (randomly rather than as a result of battle damage, which I suppose has its own mechanics already but I'd like to have seen integration of this with the core system's simple "working/not working" status) and a long list of the sorts of things that go wrong with different parts of a ship: it's not just the drive breaking down, it's the drive leaking radiation as the result of a software problem. I'll definitely be using these in my spacefaring campaigns.

Designer's Notes: The Silk Road (Matt Riggsby) adds to that recent publication (which I'll review soon) by extending the history of the Tarim Basin after the routes declined, as far as the modern day, with suggestions for adventurous things to do there. It also adds some mythical creatures that don't fit the historically-based book but might be handy in a more fantastic version.

Random Thought Table: Complications in a Certain World (Steven Marsh) starts from the premise that uncertainty of result is what makes games interesting: if you know you're going to get to where you're doing, the excitement comes from what goes wrong on the way and how you deal with it, from showing off rarely-used skills and giving the GM a means of feeding in new clues. (I'd add: "at what cost", i.e. what resources had to be expended to make it there, and therefore aren't available for the next step.)

Central Asia/Silk Road map (uncredited) is a 51 megapixel low-detail map from the Caspian to China (and because of the company's anti-DRM policy, it's possible to use PDF tools to extract the image file and do useful things with it, like zooming in to an area of campaign relevance). Routes and major terrain features and settlements are marked.

Spaceship malfunctions are the prize here, and the minions will be useful to me Pyramid 103 is available from Warehouse 23.


  1. Posted by John Dallman at 12:12pm on 24 May 2017

    I had a brief attack of fear when this issue appeared that the session about my junior spaceship engineer might consist entirely of fixing the ship as it suffered breakdowns. But I'm sure you wouldn't do that.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 12:15pm on 24 May 2017

    (Insert reassuring smile here.)

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