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Designer's Notes Designer's Notes

Well, I did say that I'd have something up about the relationship between Guilds and Boards and Curia in a few days. It turns out to be a surprisingly DN-heavy issue (my article and Stoddard's on Back To School). Between Guilds, Boardroom and Curia, Mass Combat, and City Stats,GURPS has a lot of different ways of describing organized entities, suitable to various purposes. It's interesting how both Bill and I demonstrate that, coming at the question from different directions.

And another Car Wars piece in this one. My only regret is that the Brandon Moore art isn't available in a publicly available place, so I can't link to it.  He's really quite good.

Still Not Designer's Notes for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 17: Guilds

I've been the beneficiary of a recent wave of GURPS-related reviews, notably for the new book. The common thread is about how it nudges the Dungeon Fantasy line in the direction of social complexity, world-building detail, and more non-combat interactions. This leaves me thinking that I wasn't clear enough about the book's intent.

I mean, yes, it does point in that direction for those who want it, but the objective I had was, basically, weaponizing social connections. Rank is a power-up. ARs allow adventurers to get their hands on some extra gear or other benefits at the beginning of an adventure, and guilds can send them on adventures where they get to keep all the loot. Apparently, the postmodernists were right about the author's intention and interpretation not being definitive.

Anyway, I have some additional thoughts about Guilds and it's relationship to Boardroom and Curia. I'll try to get those out there in the next few days.

White Gold

Not quite a cat/bag situation, but I've gotten involved in writing some material around the edges of the new edition of Car Wars. My first piece for this came out today, a vignette about a biker queen in the wasteland that was once Nevada, with accompanying art by Brandon Moore. He nails it. Really, seriously nails it. I'm just sad that bit isn't part of the preview.

Rule of Who?

Recently, Blind Mapmaker put up a fair and thoughtful review of my most recent DF book. In it, he says:

While the book is rules-oriented it is less so than you might expect from a DF book.
This, I think, is true. A great deal of it is descriptive detail: coin shapes, largely mundane fabric types, a list of colors, and a big-ass table of decorative motifs. Very little of this gives us the pluses we so dearly love (as alluded to in the intro section, "What's The Bonus for Shiny?"). There's a reason for that, which gets into something which doesn't get discussed in much detail in places I frequent.

One of the phrases which keeps coming up is "the Rule of Cool," the idea of conflating successful/effective with cool/awesome/impressive. I'm down with that, of course, but the question is, what's cool? How do we get there? How do we build cool?

Consider this INCREDIBLY FREAKING AWESOME sequence which open's John Woo's Hard Boiled (go ahead, I'…

DFT1: Boring Designer's Notes

A new book of mine came out today: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Treasures 1: Glittering Prizes. The genesis of this one is...well, not unusual. After DF8 came out, I'd had some ideas about things which it might have lacked, items I'd want to expand on, and the like, but I didn't have a format for it. I pitched one of those ideas, an extended treatment of money, as an article for Pyramid. My editor countered with the suggestion of turning it into a short PDF. After a bit of back and forth, I settled on a short PDF (shorter than DF8, anyway) about adding detail to treasures: more about money to make it more than just discrete bits of precious metal, more decorative motifs, more implausible materials, and so on, incorporating many, though not all, of the treasure-related ideas I'd had since DF8 was published.

And now, the theme song for the book:



Why GURPS Historicals?

The advent of a new Hot Spots volume has reminded me of a question which comes up from time to time: Why buy an historical GURPS book when you can just look up stuff on the web?  It's not just potential customers who ask this. It's a question which keeps the GURPS editorial staff up at night. Not surprisingly, I have a multi-part answer to that question:

1) The premise of the question is flawed. Contrary to what some might think, not everything is on the web. Some material is, obviously ("China is over there.  Farther. Little to the left. Up. There."), but certainly not all or even most. The depth of research in GURPS historicals is frequently such that the authors have to pick up dusty old books and page through things which haven't been digitized and exposed to the web for free nor are they likely to be any time soon, or to hit up journals and new books which are still behind paywalls or are undigitized and available only through libraries. You can Google for i…

More Hints, More Rumors

The cat is, if not out of the bag for my latest GURPS project, then at least peeking out of the mostly closed box. In the wake of the slow revival of GURPS as it has emerged from the shadow of the Ogre, I did GURPS Boardroom and Curia, then I did a DF project based on idea suggested by Kromm. My intention at that point was to do something non-DF, but a second DF project strongly suggested itself, after which I again wanted to do a non-DF book. Then a third DF project wouldn't get out of my head. But now that that's out of the way, I've put the Terribly Responsible Historian hat firmly back on to do a new Hot Spots. I shan't say much about this, save that:

a) It's something I've wanted to write for quite some time; I was rather gung-ho about it even before the Ogre hiatus.

2) It's different in certain significant ways from the ones I've done before. *

In any event, it's back to research and cartography.


*: What ways? Who can say? Maybe it just means …