Thursday, October 18, 2018

Review: GURPS Pyramid #3/120 Alternate GURPS V

As Pyramid nears the end of its run we today got the last of the Alt GURPS issues.  It was a hearty one with a lot of substance.

Opus Longa, Pugna Brevis

Sean Punch
Prolonged Work, Fight Shortcut according to Google Translate. I was thinking Long Work, something brief so my Latin got me in the ballpark but that is about it :)
The first article is my favorite of the issue. Kromm took a look at an interesting problem and came up with some interesting solutions.
Some tasks are boiled down to a single skill roll that represents minutes of time while the other PCs are doing more interesting stuff.  It also adds drama to rolls, beyond the simple pass/fail.
Its 4 pages that include optional rules for haste and speeding up tasks, ways to add drama to longer tasks, etc. The best part to me though was the Life is a Battlefield section which offers a skill resolution system that is sort of a mini-game. I can see using it for solving mysteries, computer hacking or infiltrating an enemy base with just a little work. He gives good examples to help the GM figure out the numbers.
I loved this article and think it would make a great Action supplement, or even better a Power Up supplement that combined with the existing skills resolution systems and more examples would be a valuable item in the GM tool kit.

Eidetic Memory: Describing Vehicles

David L. Pulver
A solid article that just makes me salivate for GURPS VDS (Vehicle Design System), as if I wasn't already!
My first thought was this is useful, shortly replaced with darn I would rather have had another article instead and just wait for this material in VDS. However it occurred to me as I write this that we might not see it in VDS as this is more of a way to help you eyeball a vehicle and aid in quickly stating one. David, if your reading this and this material wont go into VDS please consider combining it with the Spaceship as building rules from an earlier Pyramid and give us Quick Vehicles and Bases book. I have some other material to suggest for it too if you need to make it bigger, such as rules for paying for them with points (Such as The Captains Boat and the rules in GURPS Supers).
Probably my second favorite article and one that will keep me in good stead should I want some simple stats for say a sailing ship before VDS is out. Or maybe even then for building things in an even easier way than the GURPS Spaceship series.

The Fifth Attribute

Christopher R. Rice
People have talked about a possible Fifth attribute for quite awhile to separate IQ from magical power. Personally this was the most disappointing article to me but that is not a knock on the authors writing. Nitpicks, I wish he had used a different name for the attribute and that he had referenced RuneQuest which with its POW attribute was a close comparison and came out years before the other referenced works. I also wish he had referenced his article How Very Tempting from Pyramid #3/67 as thematically I think they could be good fits. However, even he had thought of that he may not have had the room for it here. Something for later or a Designers Notes article?
How was the new attribute handled? It helps resist supernatural influence (discouraging people buying it down), replaces IQ for a lot stuff, and gives supernatural FP similar to HT for normal activity. Overall thats pretty good, I think it is balanced and achieves the goal (for some) of separating IQ from magical ability. Something that a lot of people have wanted for awhile.
Resilient Quintessence is an inspired version of Fit and Very Fit, Calling out the Based on Different Attribute and Requires Attribute modifiers here was a nice touch, as is the use of Pact.
Live Like You Were Dying was an interesting idea and much of the skills and using with other systems were pretty useful. The Ritual Path Magic section seemed a bit off to me, but maybe I did not understand it. It seems like it effectively kills anything beyond Magery 0 which I'm not sure I like.
Magery is reasonably replaced with the standard system and for some reason that bothers me less, though it has unmentioned effects on a lot of spells, prerequisite issues and powering up spells for example.
I may use some of this but it will require tweaking for my campaigns.

Conditional Injury

Douglas Cole
This is the hardest article for me to review and give my opinion on. Its a great article, very well done and has at least two key benefits.
It solves the glass ship problem if applied to vehicles, same as death by house cat. Normally we just abstract tiny wounds away, but this provides a solid system that gives us good wounding, including long term effects.
It gives a more visual and intuitive idea of how hurt someone is, including debilitating conditions and I like that.

A lot of work obviously went into this article and I like the detail. Nitpicks, Recovering Maximum FP would have made more sense under the Deadly Fatigue section. I was confused on first reading it, read it twice to be sure I understood it and still thought it out of place in the article till I read the next section. The other and minor nitpick was not mentioning Injury Tolerance: Damage Reduction though its effects can be figured easily enough using the Vulnerability entry. I really like how Douglas managed to incorporate existing healing methods into this in a very clean manner.

Ok, now to read an email I been putting off...
Ok, thats done. I had a friend send an email specifically about this article but wanted to make my initial review unbiased by other points of view. He likes it but I dont want to post his comments without permission.
This kind of gives me a Mekton feel (If I remember the right game) and overall I like it, not sure if I will use it as it might be too complicated in play. I think some testing is in order but I really like it as an idea for dealing with really large creatures and ships. The Parting Shot section on the last page summarizes the benefits, including non deadly boxing matches.

Random Thought Table: Fluid Skills

Steven Marsh
An interesting idea for skills changing over time but around a baseline, the goal being limited improvement.
Not much to say here, its interesting but not to my style of play so hard to give an opinion on.


A really good issue, with two outstanding articles likely to see use in the near future and two that bear looking at but may require some fiddling to fit into one of my games. 

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