Pyramid #3/72 – Alternate Dungeons Review (Pointless Slaying and Looting)

This is an issue that could be a lot of fun. Dungeon Fantasy is full of entertaining tropes, some used for amusement, some for simplification, and some for the one true purpose of absolute and total mayhem.


Ahem. Sorry.

But Alternate Dungeons takes this and attempts to come at you sideways. I strongly suspect, given that every article in this issue was written by a headliner, that there’s plenty more where that came from, but let’s go with what we have.

I’ll be publishing this review one article at a time, but maybe more than one per day as I can find time. So check back!

Pointless Slaying and Looting ( +Sean Punch )

Summary: Sean (sort of ) throws points out the window, and reduces character creation in Dungeon Fantasy into a small number of choices from a fairly large menu. Somewhat limited choices are made from an archetype, abilities, skills, and limitations in the equivalent of large-point-value chunks, reducing character creation to what should be a matter of minutes. Point-quibblers and munchkins need not apply.

Style, Writing, Execution [-2 to 2 points]: It’s hard to make a giant menu of items exciting. Sean does his best, of course, which is very good indeed. He concisely describes the thought behind each selection, and provides guidelines for GMs and tinkerers to create their own. The articles suffers a bit from the menu-driven approach (not that one could do otherwise), and it’s possible that eyes glaze over a bit when presented with (say) three or four pages of nothing but wildcard skill collections. This is significantly offset by the amused insertions into some of the entries, such as the section on Heroic Flaws, each of which begins with “Disaster results from . . . ” Some of these are hysterical, such as the entry for Nervous or Saintly. While the huge walls of text, in character block format, are off-putting, this is simply the required format for this in a readable fashion fit for a magazine. 1 points.

Background, Inspiration, Epiphany [0 to 4 points]: . This is, quite simply, the d6 Star Wars, FATE Accelerated, or Swords and Wizardry of GURPS Character Generation – and I mean that in the most flattering and complimentary way possible. Each of those systems make it possible to generate a starting character in fifteen minutes or less, and so it is with this article. Make a dozen or so choices, and you have a fully functional, realized character that is basically a 250-point “starting” hero. None of the munchkinry that can happen when you’re dealing with a system discretized to single-point quanta. The “under the hood” boxes are concise and appropriately dense. 4 points.

Drop-in Gaming Utility [0 to 4 points]: This is the ultimate drop-in, so long as you’re starting a campaign or character. The menu of options is extensive enough to fit nearly any bill, and the guidance for making even more choices right there in the text. While this is customized for Dungeon Fantasy, the applicability to other genres is obvious. 4 points.

Overall: 9/10. This is like FATE Accelerated and GURPS Spaceships got all drunk and had a really athletic, smart, irritatingly good looking child. The good news is that this person wants to date YOU. Seriously, this is the way future genre treatments should be presented. 

Would I use it? Yes. Yes I would. This is too good not to use, and I hope it makes itself a permanent feature in future GURPS publications. It’s a polite judo throw to the face for the argument that GURPS chargen takes too long and is too complicated. You can go from zero to hero in fifteen minutes with this concept, and it’s worth replicating.

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