Skip to main content

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, discussing sorting through the detritus of the Silk Road. That said, I am amused by the thought of Shayan casting epic shade on her husband in the quote on p. 35.

The review is also right that the art is rather sparse, which is too bad. There are a lot of impressive landscapes along the Silk Road. So here, for your dining and dancing pleasure, are some images of the Mogao cave shrine:


The Taklamakan:

 
Iron Gate Pass:


Some yardangs:


 
And the Pamirs:


Unfortunately, Yumenguan is a bit drab these days.









Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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 fo…

Fraxinetum

I came across another one of those historical footnotes which would in years past have prompted a Pyramid  article. With Pyramid still gone, here we go again:
Introduction The early Middle Ages were dangerous and chaotic for much of western Europe. Vikings raided along coasts and river from the north and all the way around Europe's west coast and into the Mediterranean. Magyars attacked from the east. And Muslims (mostly but certainly not all North African Berbers) took over most of Spain and raided elsewhere along the Mediterranean coast.

But while many people know at least about the existence of Muslim Spain, fewer people are aware of Muslim France.  For a time in the 8th through 10th centuries, large stretches of the south coast of France were under Muslim rule, and parts of that were administered from one of the world's most glamorous vacation spots. This was Medieval Fraxinetum.
History In 711 AD, things were going well for the expanding Muslim caliphate. An Arab-led Berb…

Writing GURPS Adventures

Someone over on the forum asked for advice on writing adventures for GURPS. Or more specifically, in context, writing GURPS adventures with an eye towards publication by SJ Games, which is a very different animal. Whatever method and structure you have for writing up adventures for your own use is, of course, the best and you should use it for your own purposes. But we're talking about commerce here, not just art, so this should be thought of as advice on how to do business with a particular publisher, not generally useful advice on how to write adventures.

I need to start by defining a term. SJ Games means something specific by "adventure." As the wish list uses the word, an adventure has a plot, or at least something plot-like in it. It presents a specific problem to solve through a progression of encounters. They are not sandboxes. Sandbox-style adventures, with their multiplicity of possible PC objectives, are, in the terminology of the wish list, locations. There ar…