Download Pyramid 3-95 - Overland Adventures PDF

TitlePyramid 3-95 - Overland Adventures
File Size16.3 MB
Total Pages39
Table of Contents
From the Editor
The Emerald Hell
Low-Tech Transportation
Eidetic Memory: Monster Caravan
The Village Green
Random Thought Table: Keeping Reins on the Wilds
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Stock #37-2695

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From the editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

the emerald hell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4
by Timothy Ponce

low-tech transportation . . . . . . . . . . . .13
by Christopher R. Rice

eidetic memory: monster caravan . . . . .21
by David L. Pulver

the village green . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30
by Jon Black

random thought table:
Keeping reins on the wilds . . . . . . .37

by Steven Marsh, Pyramid Editor

about GURPS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39

Pyramid magazine 2 SePtember 2016

Some people take “Get lost!” as an insult. Heroes take

it as a challenge to find adventure! This issue of Pyramid is
devoted to various aspects of overland adventuring in low-
tech settings.

Heroes often feel ready for anything, but are they truly pre-
pared to survive if they find themselves in The Emerald Hell?
This mini-supplement brings jungles to life in your GURPS
campaign. Learn about travel within a rain forest, survival
therein, and dangers waiting to claim the lives of the unwary.
It even includes ideas for how to get explorers into the thick of
this verdant wilderness.

Trade seems like an easy way to make a lot of money in a
low-tech world, until you start running the numbers involved
with Low-Tech Transportation. Christopher R. Rice – co-author
of GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 19: Incantation Magic – breaks
it all down for you to show you exactly how much money and
supplies it takes to haul cargo long distances via various meth-
ods, including transport by cart, ship, or horse.

If you travel the roads of a fantasy world, watch out for the
Monster Caravan. This month’s Eidetic Memory offering from
GURPS Banestorm: Abydos author David L. Pulver details
a ready-to-use group of enterprising creatures bringing their
ill-gotten goods with them on the road. Discover 10 different
inhabitants of the caravan (complete with GURPS stats) and
the full contents of its five-car train.

Not every encounter along the winding path is waiting to
kill you; sometimes you find yourself standing in tranquil con-
tentment amid The Village Green. Learn about what makes a
village, who and what can be found there, and how these kinds
of settlements may vary between different tech levels.

This issue also features a Random Thought Table that offers
some ideas for how to keep control over the seemingly infinite
expanse of wilderness open to heroes. With this installment of
Pyramid, the larger world suddenly became both more invit-
ing and more dangerous . . . and it’s never been a better time
to get lost!

in thiS

artiCle ColorS
Each article is color-coded to help you find your

favorite sections.

Pale Blue: In This Issue
Brown: In Every Issue
Green: Columnist
Dark Blue: GURPS Features
Purple: Systemless Features

Abrar Ajmal

Editor-in-Chief z STEVE JACKSON

Assistant GURPS Line Editor z

Car Wars Line Editor z SCOTT HARING

Executive Editor z MIRANDA HORNER
GURPS Project Manager z STEVEN MARSH

Production Artist & Prepress Checker z


Chief Executive Officer z PHILIP REED
Chief Creative Officer z SAM MITSCHKE
Chief Operating Officer z SUSAN BUENO

Marketing Director z RHEA FRIESEN
Director of Sales z ROSS JEPSON

There is no place to go, and so we travel! You and I,
and what for, just to imagine that we could go somewhere

– Edward Dahlberg

Page 19

Pyramid magazine 19 SePtember 2016

Thus, it travels at about 4 mph, or 96 miles daily. The crew
needs to carry 189 lbs. of food, 1,008 lbs. of water, and
another 180 lbs. of personal effects for the sailors. Since the
Cat’s Flicker Swish can haul 150,000 lbs., this leaves 148,623
lbs. available for merchandise. Base cost for the 18 sailors
(which includes the “captain”) is $326.04 (daily pay), while
maintenance cost (p. 13) for the ship adds $120. Cost for
food is $114/day. Since the ship can carry about 74.3 tons
after accounting for food, the total cost translates to
approximately $1 per 212 lbs. of merchandise.

Bernstein, William J. A Splendid Exchange: How

Trade Shaped the World (Grove Press, 2009). As much a
history of trade as story, Bernstein informs and delights
at the same time.

Dolin, Eric Jay. Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic
History of the Fur Trade in America (W.W. Norton &
Company, 2011). An extremely detailed look at the fur
trade, with lots of hard numbers.

Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe. Pathfinders: A Global
History of Exploration (W.W. Norton & Company,
2007). An excellent look at exploration, including sev-
eral maps.

Greene, Kevin. The Archaeology of the Roman
Economy (University of California Press, 1990). A good
look at the Roman Empire’s everyday economy and

Nabhan, Gary Paul. Cumin, Camels, and Caravans:
A Spice Odyssey (University of California Press, 2014).
Nabhan’s highly entertaining work is a combination of
history, story, geography, and even cookbook.

van Tilburg, Cornelis. Traffic and Congestion in the
Roman Empire (Routledge, 2012). Examines the Roman
Empire’s land and sea traffic in exacting detail.

about the author
Christopher R. Rice has a cat-drawn war car-

riage he borrowed from his girlfriend. It can’t carry
much – but it’s awesome, and that’s all that matters.
From Portsmouth, Virginia, he’s eking a living out
of writing (somehow). Of course, if he’s not writing

about GURPS, he’s blogging about it. Visit his site “Ravens
N’ Pennies” ( for more GURPS
goodies. He wishes to thank L.A. and his gaming group, the
Headhunters; Beth “Archangel” McCoy, the “Sith Editrix”;
David Pulver; Onno Meyer; Emily “Bruno” Smirle; and
Elizabeth Platt Hamblin, for being most excellent sounding
boards. He especially wishes to thank Shawn Fisher and
Travis Foster for their heroic efforts at the eleventh hour.

You see, there are millions upon millions of worlds in the universe,
each one filled with too much of one thing and not enough of another.
And the Great Continuum flows through them all, like a mighty
river, from “have” to “want” and back again. And if we navigate
the Continuum with skill and grace, our ship will be filled with
everything our hearts desire.

– Nog, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #7.6

Page 20

Page 38

Pyramid magazine 38 SePtember 2016

If the adventure doesn’t “really” begin until the heroes reach
the Temple of Elemental Veal (home of the stench kow!), then
why not skip over the journey between there and their last
adventure and simply have the heroes begin outside that meaty
manse? What is the wilderness adding to the experience?

In some cases, there are good reasons! One or more of the
players may enjoy the potential wilderness encounters, espe-
cially if their character’s profession shines outdoors, like a
druid or a barbarian.

Otherwise, the GM might either want to fast-forward to
the destination in question, or else give wilderness encounters
more weight or reason for being there. Maybe the GM wants a
scene or two to set the mood, explaining why the destination
is what it is. “Why haven’t others attacked the Tower of Grey
Skull to end its evil? Oh, maybe because of the tribe of ogres
in the area, or that sorceress with the chicken-legged hut, or
the 10’-long worm-fish.”

Or maybe the threats they face on the way can give the
heroes insight or resources to defeat the threat they’re trav-
eling to. For example, if the destination has lycanthropes,
maybe one of the wilderness encounters provides them with
silver weapons.

I stumbled across the Dragon Age video-game series earlier

this year, and I quite enjoyed the first two games of the series.
(I haven’t gotten around to the third one yet.) Its world is
fairly grim and realistic . . . at least, as realistic as a world with
magic, world-threatening dragons, and enemies that spewed
enough gore when hit that at times I feared I was fighting
blood-filled water balloons.

However, there was one design decision I didn’t think
I would like at first, but quickly grew to love. Whenever the
game gives you a quest, it marks
on your map where that quest
can be furthered or resolved.
So if you accept a quest that’s
called something like “The
Bandit Problem,” then helpfully
on an overland map is a spot
marked “The Bandit Problem.”
That marker appears even if
you haven’t explored that area
yet, hovering in the inky void,
waiting for you to find it.

I didn’t think I would like it because, obviously, it’s not very
realistic. (“We need you to track down the hidden bandit prob-
lem. They’ve been utterly elusive.” “Okie-doke.” “Great! We’ve
marked on the map where they are.” “Umm . . .?”) But from
a game-play standpoint, it was wonderful. It was one of the
only computer roleplaying games I’ve ever experienced where
I wasn’t ever stuck guessing, “Am I going the right way? Am I
missing something? Should I explore every square inch of all
creation, hoping I don’t overlook the vital pixel that will allow
the adventure to continue?”

In a tabletop game, this exact same technique can be used.
The Keep on the Borderlands becomes much more manage-
able if you just hand them a blank piece of paper with the keep
on there and the four wilderness encounters numbered or
labeled. What’s there is for the heroes to determine (through

the usual means of exploration), but at least the players don’t
need to worry that they’re spending their entire game night
wandering in a vector that leads them off the edge of the map
or away from anything useful.

Similarly, looking at the map for The Isle of Dread, I’m not
seeing anything that’s really lost by handing the players a ver-
sion of the blank map with all the encounters numbered and
labeled. If the heroes want to make their way to that enticing
#15 in the center of the island, great! Once the heroes resolve
encounter #22, they know that the entire northwest peninsula
of the island no longer has anything of non-random interest.

Whereas the first idea assumes the heroes have one spot
on their map that they’re trudging to, this idea assumes there
are lots of spots on their map . . . all of which may be wor-
thy of investigation. And, of course, the first two ideas can be
combined: If the heroes are looking for the infamous Tomb
Wadiddy Diddydum Diddydoo, then it’s much more mysteri-
ous if there are a dozen numbered encounters on the overland
map, all of which could be the dungeon they seek . . .

here there be dragonS
and White SPaCe

Another way to limit the possibilities of the heroes wan-
dering fruitlessly in less-than-fun wilderness environs is to
constrict the parameters. This can be straightforward to do
geographically; an island is the obvious example, but the
locale could also be a hidden valley, a peninsula, or a moun-
tain range (with progressively more challenging encounters as
the heroes go higher up).

The location can also be geographically unbound, but
still obvious if the explorers start straying from the path.
For example, the heroes may not know the exact boundaries

of the Forest Eryoung, but if there
suddenly aren’t any trees around,
then they can be pretty sure that
they’re at the limits of the adventure.

Or perhaps there are unnatural
limits that keep the heroes from going
too far astray. Perhaps there are pil-
lars every 100 yards at the edge of the
Desert T’Ping’s realm, providing a clue
that the heroes have found the region
they seek and warning them when
they’re in danger of leaving it again.

Or maybe the terrain of the Glen of the Firegrass is varying
shades of red, and when the crimson tinge of the turf under-
foot fades back to a more-normal green, the explorers know
that they are nearing the edge of their adventuring region.

And if all that fails, just have a friendly talking magpie
berate the heroes until they’re back on track.

about the editor
Steven Marsh is a freelance writer and editor. He has con-

tributed to roleplaying game releases from Green Ronin, West
End Games, White Wolf, Hogshead Publishing, and others.
He has been editing Pyramid for over 10 years; during that
time, he has won four Origins awards. He lives in Indiana with
his wife, Nikola Vrtis, and their son.

Wealth I ask not, hope nor

Nor a friend to know me;
All I seek, the heaven above
And the road below me.

– Robert Louis Stevenson

Page 39

Pyramid magazine 39 SePtember 2016

about GURPS
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of GURPS players. Our address is SJ Games, P.O. Box
18957, Austin, TX 78760. Please include a self-ad-
dressed, stamped envelope (SASE) any time you write us!
We can also be reached by email: [email protected]
Resources include:

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