RogerBW's Blog

Pyramid 111: Combat II 20 January 2018

Pyramid, edited by Steven Marsh, is the monthly GURPS supplement containing short articles with a loose linking theme. This time it's fighting – not a theme I find particularly compelling in RPGs any more.

The Witched Gun (S.A. Fisher and Christopher R. Rice) starts with real-world magical beliefs about firearms (mostly American, which is an understandable bias given the influence of firearms on American culture and worldview), and implements some of them in GURPS terms. The article covers making bullets or guns deadlier by associating them with prior deaths; writing charms to protect the wielder; marking symbols to produce magical effects; adding special materials ("cold iron" or communion wafers); and so on. The game mechanics fade away after a bit; after all, they're basically all variants of "make the gun more deadly" or "keep the wielder safe". If I were running a monster-hunting (modern violence vs supernatural beasties) game I'd almost certainly use some of this.

The Wrestler (Sean Punch) is a Dungeon Fantasy template. It can be adapted into GURPS without too much trouble. This is a character who pretty much does combat and nothing else.

Eidetic Memory: Astroduel! (David L. Pulver) is an SF campaign setting, overtly inspired by Car Wars. Spacecraft are small and affordable, interstellar travel takes a few hours via stargates, and after the breakdown of civilisation everyone's packing lasers. (Aren't you glad you have a laser? Won't this be fun?) I find this much more interesting as an example of setting transplant than as something I might actually want to play.

Animal Combat Styles (Rory Fansler) expands on animals in combat, giving them particular moves such as Acrobatic Stand for ambush predators or Back Kick for heroes' horses. Some new techniques are needed, and given. Off the top of my head, though, the only campaign I might plausibly run in which mêlée combat with animals is likely to need this much detail is Steve Irwin the RPG.

Creepy Charly (J. Edward Tremlett) js an underground gun dealer who can get anything… with various explanations of why that might be, and associated problems when go wrong. This is very much a modern-day character, but definitely one I can use. Some extra material here.

Random Thought Table: Freshen Up Your Fights (Steven Marsh) examines ways of making fights more interesting without simply increasing to-hit and damage numbers: tweaking other numbers or having enemies that use their intelligence. This isn't really anything new to an old-time gamer, but might be useful to someone breaking out of the D&D mindset.

There's only one article I'm likely to use directly, but two more give useful inspiration, which for a theme that doesn't excite me isn't bad going. Pyramid 111 is available from Warehouse 23.


  1. Posted by Dr Bob at 12:25pm on 21 January 2018

    What on earth is 'Acrobatic Stand'? It doesn't sound much like something a crocodile or anaconda would do. I have a mental image of the pose Olympic gymnasts strike after finishing a routine on the parallel bars... :-) I suppose animal combat moves might be relevant if someone who has memorised everything in GURPS Martial Arts decided to run Lassie's Rescue Rangers the RPG. As a zoologist, I'd much prefer to model realistic animal behaviour (i.e. they don't behave like bullet-proof, psychotic movie-monsters) than add extra combat moves.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 04:44pm on 21 January 2018

    Acrobatic Stand is a means - any means, really - of going from lying on the ground to upright in a single second's manoeuvre, rather than the usual two. In this case, it's for something that's lying in wait to leap up and start rending.

    There are some behavioural elements on animal templates in GURPS already, but it's fairly broad-brush.

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