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The Last Pyramid

Today saw the publication of the final issue of Steve Jackson Games's Pyramid magazine, as was announced several months ago. Broadly speaking, it was the victim of generally rough times within the gaming industry.

I'm one of what is surely a small number of people who have been published in all three iterations of Pyramid. I'd had some previous contact with SJ Games--some stuff I helped with ended up in GURPS Cyberpunk, which in turn has doubtless gotten my name on the Federal Register of Dangerous Hoodlums--but it wasn't until the later days of the paper version of Pyramid that I finally got up the nerve to try my hand at writing an article. The result was a short piece on low-tech (mostly Medieval) economies, which became my first professionally published work.

This, apparently, was enough encouragement. Having seen how painless the process actually was, I started thinking in terms of writing for publication. It didn't hurt that around this time I went to work for a publisher and in not very long started writing for them as well. Indeed, when the topic was first floated with them, I was able to point to prior professional publication.

But the second, web-based version of Pyramid is where I really started to take off. The switch to the new format made it suitable for a large number of short pieces on a broad range of topics (mostly, but certainly not entirely, GURPS-related). Many of the historicals I wrote, for example, were the result of reading a book and thinking "How can I get a gaming angle on this?" All the editors were good to me, but none better than Steven Marsh, who let me experiment with things like a pulp/cliffhanger adventure written in the form of a several-part cliffhanger serial and a campaign setting built by coming up with a framework world and working exiting location and adventure articles into it, essentially making the whole of Pyramid (or, at least, large parts of it) a single setting.

By the time Pyramid switched to the PDF format, I'd largely moved on to longer works like hot spots and items in the DF series. But I did keep coming back for it for shorter, odder pieces which didn't justify an entire book written about them.

But while I haven't done quite so much for the third edition as the second, I'll still miss it. I'll miss the venue for shorter pieces. "The Golden Geniza of Ezcali," for example, was basically a worked example of a way of dealing with a key folkloristic principle; its primary value, as I see it, is as a thought experiment, not something requiring another twenty or thirty pages. And, of course, I'll miss it as a source of new talent. Nothing against the usual GURPS-writing suspects, mind you, but I do wonder where they'll find the next Christopher Rice. Or, indeed, the next me. I'm not counting on it, because things change and the magazine format may never be viable in the publishing culture of the future, but perhaps an upturn in the gaming market will some day give SJ Games scope to revive it. If they do, I certainly hope to be around to help.

And, finally, there's a lot I owe to Pyramid as a semi-professional writer. It's where I started writing for actual money, and with something well north of 100 articles (I've lost count, honestly, but I suspect it's in the neighborhood of 140), it contains a substantial proportion of my professional output. Moreover, the more ambitious work I've written and my ongoing work in the future likely wouldn't have started without it. The dark, rune-bedecked portal of the Pyramid is the door I got my foot in.


Peter34 said…
Not to mention the “Omniscient Eye” articles that appeared during the last years of the v2 (HTML) version of Pyramid!

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