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Old 01-21-2016, 04:12 PM  
GURPS Line Editor
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Montréal, Québec
Default Pyramid #3/87: Low-Tech III

Cells and bullets gone
I switched to my trusty blade
And kept on fighting
— Excerpt from "Low-Tech Isn't No Tech"
To be sure, the most obvious backdrop for technology in gaming is either the modern-day technothriller or futuristic sci-fi adventure. That doesn't mean pre-industrial heroes are stuck banging rocks together and swinging from vines! Human ingenuity is at its keenest when technology is sharply limited – as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.

Unfortunately for the GM, invention isn't always easy when the campaign is set in a low-tech world, involves travel to such a time or place, or is a post-apocalyptic mashup. In those situations, how things work is a matter of historical record, which means "make stuff up" tends to backfire. But take heart, because Pyramid #3/87: Low-Tech III is here to inspire with both raw technology and what it implies for culture, economics, and warfare!
  • Weapons in GURPS are nigh eternal, breaking only in extreme circumstances: critical failure, parrying an ogre's club, and so on. Yet historically, The Broken Blade was the risk that prompted knights to carry backup weapons and armies to travel with armorers. Douglas Cole's new rules for robustness, breakage, and dulled edges add not only realism but also risk, excitement, and a reason to keep a knife in your boot.

  • Traders and merchants predate the concept of currency. Wherever demand is higher in one place than another, Purveyors of the Priceless can make a profit. Christopher Rice shows how to handle a trader's starting wealth (even in a setting where Wealth doesn't exist), offers eight new perks for merchants, and provides plenty of rules for bartering and selling. Easily determine how much stock you have, how and where to sell it, and how much gold (or cacao) you'll be rolling in.

  • If you want to engage in speculative mercantilism on a grand scale at TL3, your best option would be to dive into the Medieval Sea Trade. In this month's Eidetic Memory, David Pulver provides detailed rules for playing port-to-port traders – including full vehicle stats for a merchant ship, 36 common types of cargo (and rules for seeking out specific ones or generating them randomly), and what's involved in ferrying passengers or someone else's freight when you lack a shipment of your own.

  • Confucianism was felt at every level of life in medieval China. Its belief that people could be "perfected," rising on their own merits and virtues, spawned a bureaucracy that spanned centuries. Matt Riggsby explains why Knowledge is Power, with an in-depth look at the imperial civil service and the grueling exams required to advance through its levels. Will you spend decades struggling with the curriculum, drop out, or give in to the temptation to cheat?

  • Few makers of musical instruments occupy a place in the public consciousness – but everyone has heard of "Stradivarius." The name immediately brings to mind finely crafted violins, passed down from musician to musician over the course of centuries. Yet who was The Music Maker and how did he become the archetypal artificer of stringed instruments? Learn about Antonio Stradivari (with full GURPS stats) and discover why his hometown of Cremona lends itself to historical adventure.

  • The "-punk" suffix is popular nowadays, from the well-known "steampunk" to such odd takes as "atompunk" and "stonepunk." It's a simple concept at heart: Start with a real historical setting and then introduce fantastic inventions. But giving gadgeteers free reign to build anything can wreck the game. In Tempered Punks, Graeme Davis gives the GM a variety of ways to balance the scales, so that the players' creative freedom doesn't turn into the GM's worst nightmare.

  • And no trip to the past is complete without our usual features, including a Random Thought Table that shows why plot devices and technobabble aren't just for sci-fi, and a Short Bursts that will make you glad you have access to roadside assistance.
PK & Kromm
Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch <>
GURPS Line Editor, Steve Jackson Games
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