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Incense Trail Additional Material

The GURPS 2020 PDF Challenge is on and as of this writing we've already got half the PDFs unlocked. These include both of my contributions to the project, including GURPS Hot Spots: The Incense Trail.

For those who haven't looked it up yet: the Incense Trail (one of several names for it) encompasses a collection of routes leading from southern Arabia to the Mediterranean and Persia, initially carrying a variety of immensely valuable aromatic resins but later incorporating control over trade around the Indian Ocean. Here are a few things not included in text.
Here's a satellite image of the environs of the warehouse/fortress of Sumhuram, with x marking the proverbial spot. While the condition of the wadi it overlooks surely changed over time, it was likely less silted and more accessible to the sea in antiquity. And one can see that the hills start not far away from the shore; a lot of Arabia Felix had that kind of narrow margin.


Here's a map of the fortress itself, for yo…
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Pyramid Issues To Consider

With the 2020 GURPS PDF challenge about to get under way, there's been some talk from some people about spending some of those sweet discounted Backerkit bucks on Pyramid issues. At Kromm's urging (to Pyramid authors in general, not just me), I've suggested some issues with articles I've written as things to look into over on the forum. Here is a somewhat expanded version of that list.

First, I'll point out the historical articles:

If you want semi-detailed information on agriculture, running or getting income from an agricultural settlement, and building a landscape based on subsistence patterns, get the first two Low Tech issues (33 and 52).Very happy to have been able to use polari in a brief historical, a history of "thieves guilds" (short version: they're fiction, but there are a number of historical models for organizing criminals) in #47.In #56 (Prehistory), I get into gifting economies, where every economic interaction is a social interact…

More GURPS PDF Challenge Stuff

As of today's Daily Illuminator, we've got six titles out of the possible twelve that might be unlocked:
GURPS Action 6: Tricked-Out RidesGURPS Hot Spots: The Incense TrailGURPS How to Be a GURPS GM: Ritual Path MagicGURPS Steampunk Setting: The Broken Clockwork WorldGURPS Action 7: MercenariesGURPS Dungeon Fantasy 21: Megadungeons
I can't speak for anybody else, but:
a) I'm pretty much interested in all of them, and particularly the first and fourth. Car chases are an integral part of the Action genre and the game needs more material for them, and I do not doubt that Phil has conjured up something remarkable for steampunk.
b) I've read Megadungeons. Peter asked for some comments on an early draft. It is an excellent work which provides very practical advice for running a large dungeon. If you do dungeon crawling adventure at all, you want this book.

This is, then, shaping up to be something remarkable. If/when Incense Trail comes up, I may post a little something cut f…

GURPS PDF Challenge?

The Powers That Be have recently revealed what's up with that large number of short PDFs they've been hinting at. They're going to be involved in a Kickstarter campaign coming...well, we don't know, but since they've mentioned it, I imagine it won't be too far in the future.
That said, they haven't said anything about how it's going to work. I've got two works in it, and even I don't know. Is it buying a "subscription" like with Pyramid? Start with a few and make more available as the campaign progresses, like with the pocket box games? Buy the whole kit and kaboodle at once? Something else? I have no idea.
One thing I would like to point out is something about the covers. The art and titles are in color. GURPS PDFs (native PDFs, anyway, not the PDF versions of the hardcovers) have been in B&W since very nearly the beginning. It looks like we're getting at least some color with these. And not, I must say, a moment too soon. As br…

Gameable Architecture

Time for another one of those posts which, back in the day, might have been a Pyramid article.
I've long had an anthropological and historical interest in architecture: how buildings are constructed, why, what it takes to put them up, how they're used, and so on. That's what led me to write multiple versions of architecture rules and a number of locations for Pyramid and as freestanding publications. And in that, I keep coming back to two books: Buildings Without Architects, by John May and Anthony Reid, and Dwellings: The Vernacular House Worldwide, by Paul Oliver.


Both of these books address vernacular architecture, which is to say architecture built by non-specialists rather than trained professionals. They're about the homes people build for themselves around the world. There are examples of vernacular buildings from all over: English cob houses, Yemini towers, semi-subterranean Chinese yaodong, Cameroonian ribbed mud-brick tolek, Haida plank houses, Yanomami shaban…

What I've Been Up To

In the unlikely event that someone is curious about what I've been up to relative to GURPS writing: I've got something DF-ish wending its way through the process, now apparently in final production. I've given thumbs up to the art and had to revise the cartography based on some of the conditions of production and publication.I've got an historical which is likewise through the process and in final production. I'm pretty happy with how the art and cartography worked out for that one.Recently finished designer's notes on Cold Shard Mountains for an upcoming issue of The Path of Cunning. I rant a bit.Have a proposal out for something else historical but haven't heard back yet. I expect it's because the GURPS staff is somewhat overwhelmed with the current stack of editing (pretty sure Kromm is several books deep at this point) and getting PDFs of older books out on the market.Awaiting the editing I've signed up to do for another book to start, which will…

Weird Venetian adventure seed

I really should be doing several other things right now, but that's exactly the kind of time I start doing things like this. For those unaware of the fact, Jurgen Hubert, long-time gamer, at least sometime GURPS fan, and self-publisher of a variety of gaming products, has been spending time doing translations of bits and pieces of old German folkloristic texts (he's got a Patreon, if you'd like to support his efforts).

Jurgen recently posted a tidbit with relevance to some of my works. Legend has it that Venetians would come to Germany, find and extract treasures using magic, and sneak back to Venice to live it up. There's more, of course but this struck me as an interesting basis for some heist and smuggling-style adventures.

For something like this, the Venetian state machinery is going to be involved at some level. The question is whether its agencies are directly involved in the covert looting or if they are, as usual, lurking in the shadows doing oversight and mak…