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Showing posts from May, 2017

The Critics Rave

The first review for GURPS Hot Spots: The Silk Road is up, and Blind Mapmaker is quite kind.

There's a passing mention of there not being a lot of jokes in this one, which is accurate. In addition to using my Very Serious Historian Indeed approach for this one, I had specific alternative plans for the pull quotes, which are a primary source of humor. The creation of some one-line spaces for pull quotes put a bit of a hole in things (no room for an attribution, so they emphasize a short line from the book itself), but basically all of the pull quotes are from primary sources. Most are from letters written by people living along the Silk Road, but there's one from a stuffy Roman moralist complaining about Chinese silk, and there are several from Journey to the West, which is about Silk Road travel, more or less. Oh, plus there's a bit from Kipling in the section about the Great Game which is from the book giving us that very expression, and one from Aurel Stein in the index,…

The Occasional Dungeon: Shrine, Lower Level

The most obvious entrance to the dungeon (though it's really not obvious at all) is through the shrine.



The remains of an earthen wall are still detectable around the precincts of the ancient temple, though it is nowhere more than a foot high and in places isn't there at all. Nevertheless, it delineates a region of high sanctity including the former courtyard, the exterior structure, and the cave, though not the catacombs beyond.

The shrine proper consists of a two-story-tall structure built against the hillside which enlarges the enclosed area of the cave beyond. The walls are three foot thick stone (DR 468, DR 135). The floor is made of heavy stone tiles, still in quite good shape after many years. There are no windows and a single door. When it was in use, the shade was pleasantly cool, but the roof is all but gone now, so apart from a few crumbling rafters, there's little shade. However, there are vaults supporting a second floor for four tower-like structures protrudi…

Silk Road Miscellaneous Comments

GURPS Hot Spots: The Silk Road is, at long last, out, after languishing for some months behind the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game. There's a more substantial bit on this forthcoming, but I've got some other thoughts that didn't make it into that, so...


The Silk Road is something of a departure from previous Hot Spots volumes. Instead of a single city, it covers a large, more vaguely defined, and much more culturally diverse region. In the pitch I sent to SJ Games, I described it as being more like GURPS Conan than any of the previous Hot Spots. It's more about trends and areas than specific people and events. And I think that actually makes it a much better setting for setting adventures. It's more of a sandbox (indeed, the Taklamakan desert is one of the world's biggest sandboxes) where the GM is relieved of the weight of specific historical events. And the specific nature of this region and its time make it easy for anybody from that time (or, at least, any …

The Occasional Dungeon: Key

I'll probably change my mind about things once it's far enough along to be really confusing, but I'm starting out with some conventions. The space between level floors is about 15 feet. Floor-to-ceiling distance on any given level, then, is typically in the 8-12 foot range, though see below for exceptions. Most of the dungeon is completely enclosed underground, so it's pitch dark unless delvers bring light with them unless otherwise noted. Some cartographic conventions are represented here:



The dark hatching represents the solid interior of the cave. It's rock. No background indicates a space with no floor at that level, or possibly no floor and no ceiling; see explanatory text for the level for details. This may be a space like a long vertical mine shaft or the upper or middle parts of very large underground chambers.Lightly stippled areas are sandy unfinished floors, which predominate both inside and outside the dungeon. There is rock underneath a hand's bread…