Skip to main content

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 sort of person, from Vikings and Berbers to samurai) to plausibly show up as PCs. GMs and players alike are frankly spoiled for choice.

People modestly familiar with the term "the Silk Road" may be a little surprised by the temporal coverage. A lot of the really basic mentions of the Silk Road in the West talk about Marco Polo and the Mongol empire. But that's really just when the West, which had previously been a mere appendage to the China/India/Persia trade, started to get more hooked into the old trade routes of Asia. By Polo's time, the overland silk routes were in decline. The real story, I've found, is in the ancient and early Medieval periods.

I have some vague ideas about follow-ups and companion pieces, but the problem with Hot Spots in general is finding sources covering the right mix of topics for the right places and times in languages I can read. An explosion in Silk Road scholarship over the past couple of decades has been invaluable for this book (particularly mad props to Lin Xinru, Valerie Hansen, and Susan Whitfield), but it's more difficult to find sources for the places I have in mind, which haven't been subject to quite so much attention in English-language sources. What I said some time ago about why GURPS historicals are still useful in the age of Wikipedia still stands, but, damn, that's a lot of interlibrary loan.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Dungeon Fantasy RPG PDFs to Backers!

It is, at long last, out! Sort of! PDFs of the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game have been released to Kickstarter backers. I don't think it'll be generally available until next month, but since it's in the wild in at least a limited way, I feel I can talk about this a bit more like a customer than someone involved in the project.

The Dungeon Fantasy RPG is a complete fantasy tabletop roleplaying game. It's based on GURPS 4th edition rules, but it's a stand-alone game, requiring no other books, or even prior knowledge of GURPS. I've already made some general comments elsewhere (I got an advanced peek for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I was called on to write some follow-up material coming out later). I'll expand on that here.

For those unfamiliar with GURPS, it's a point-buy system rather than randomly rolled, class-and-level, or life path, and pretty much everything in play boils down to "try to roll a target number or less o…

The Occasional Dungeon: Overview

In order to get some more GURPS out there and play with some maps, I started toying with something. I've worked up a large map ("ground level" is below; I may need to poke around with image hosting to keep enough maps at the proper scales) of a dungeon complex. From time to time, I'll post magnified excerpts from the map with details in GURPS terms, with specific reference to Dungeon Fantasy (that is, mostly stocked with things from GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 8: Treasure Tables and the Dungeon Fantasy Monsters volumes, but occasional pointers elsewhere). They may prove useful to somebody somewhere under some odd set of circumstances.


This dungeon is set in a fairly steep, rocky hill. The natural caves underneath it have long been home to a variety of creatures, natural and otherwise, but pretty much all horrible. There's also a large natural cavern accessible through a very large opening at the top of the hill where the surface caved in. It has been home to a number …