This is an article-by-article review of Pyramid #3/57: Gunplay. While I don’t usually do this, the subject matter of this issue is just what this blog ordered, and even if one of my own articles is in it, I really think every article, and nearly every word, of this issue is worth reading. So, a series of (hopefully) shortish posts. You can find the installments on Modern Warfighter: Gear here, as well as The Devil’s Chariot, Brock-Avery Guns, and Dodge This

The Nock Volley Gun (Graeme Davis)

For those who like their firearms huge, impractical, and conferring massive bonuses to Intimidation, the Nock Volley Gun is for you. This article details a very real piece of kit, giving the weapon’s history, description, and a brief bit on use.


Invented by the same person who gave us the double-barreled shotgun, the weapon was created to deal with boarding actions on ships. As mentioned in the article, the prototype had two issues: bone-cracking recoil and a tendency to set your ship on fire.
Slow to load and hazardous to fire, apparently it never really took off. Go figure.
The Gun

The weapon description is complete and focuses mostly on the rules and optional rules (six of them, on Recoil, Misfires (common with this weapon), Muzzle Blast, Intimidation, Special Powder, and a much needed Speedloader.
Each section is well laid out, brief but informative, and tells a prospective GM or player what they need to know to capture the feel and use of the weapon in play.

The weapon only saw a limited period of actual service (1780-1815) and would be suitable for Age of Sail type stuff. Otherwise it features in a few TV and Movie appearances, and so would make a nice fit there.
Hard to see in the smoke, but Master and Commander features one!
Parting Shot

A short review, but this article delivers. It’s all you wanted to know about a unique piece of kit, with optional rules to simulate why this gun might have been designed, but also ultimately failed. It’s tightly written, rules focused, and terse in a good way. When you finish, you will know whether your character (or a flavorful NPC) might want to carry one (gah! heavy!), or how to use one if you stumble across one mounted to a ship’s rail.
There are also enough optional rules that adding volley concepts to fictional pieces of weaponry are a very real option for game and world-builders. So if you want a volley assault rifle, well, Graeme’s got you covered.

This is an article-by-article review of Pyramid #3/57: Gunplay. While I don’t usually do this, the subject matter of this issue is just what this blog ordered, and even if one of my own articles is in it, I really think every article, and nearly every word, of this issue is worth reading. So, a series of (hopefully) shortish posts. You can find the installments on Modern Warfighter: Gear here, as well as The Devil’s Chariot, and Brock-Avery Guns.

Reviewing my own work. How terribly narcissistic.

Dodge This ( +Douglas Cole )

This article tries to break down some alternate rules for dodging projectiles of all speeds. It’s organized in three sections, and includes one large box on why rules such as these might not be a good idea for inclusion in the Basic Set, and ends with some tables summarizing some of the suggestions for penalties, modifiers, and die rolls given in the article.

Keen Eyes and Fast Reflexes

Saw that one coming . . .

This section spends about a page on perception rolls. No, really. The basic rules hang a lot on the question of whether or not you are aware of a foe, because tucked right in the definition of Active Defense is the prohibition of using one against an attack you can’t perceive in some way.

The sub-sections includes a bit on GURPS’ default assumptions about perception rolls and awareness, and then provides some suggestions for GMs that want to have a die roll determine whether a foe is currently being tracked. Lots of penalties, arcs of vision, and it touches on Danger Sense and Enhanced Tracking, two Advantages that can help with Perception checks.

All of them end the same way: lacking other options, you can defend against that which you’re aware of. If you’re not, you can’t.

Bob and Weave

A very short section containing an optional rule. If post-hit defending breaks your SoDoM (Sense-of-Disbelief-o-Meter), then you’re given a variant: Move and Attack (Evasive), which allows you to dodge like a funky monkey, giving penalties to be hit, but taking penalties to your own actions as well.

Active Defenses

The last section gives details on using these options with incoming projectiles. First, seeing an incoming ranged threat, notionally from a thrown car (I should have worked that in for supers) or a hurled axe all the way down to rifle bullets. This is basically a determination of the size modifier of the threat, and if you can resolve it, a Perception roll based on size and movement.

From there, you can try and stop it, but a method of penalizing defenses based on projectile speed is given for those who feel that fast attacks should be harder to parry, block, or dodge. The rules are rationalized in the case for using objects or shields as cover, as well as a short discussion of how they work with spells. Also lists the penalty for dodging lasers. For whenever that comes up.

Finally, for those who know and love Tactical Shooting, which also has some harsh rules for the dodging of bullets, a few words are spent on how to mesh this article with those rules.

This is an article-by-article review of Pyramid #3/57: Gunplay. While I don’t usually do this, the subject matter of this issue is just what this blog ordered, and even if one of my own articles is in it, I really think every article, and nearly every word, of this issue is worth reading. So, a series of (hopefully) shortish posts. You can find the first installment on Modern Warfighter: Gear here, and the review of The Devil’s Chariot here.

Eidetic Memory: Brock-Avery Guns (David Pulver)

Eidetic Memory is a monthly column written by +David Pulver . It’s usually filled with interesting stuff. This month is no exception.

Something like it really existed

Ultimately, this article is hard to review, since basically it contains four pages of juicy details, history, and hints at plot seeds wrapped around maybe five or six guns.

Brock-Avery Guns is a fictional corporation designed as a patron or supplier. Since the article covers the company’s history from about 1717 to the present, which makes it suitable from everything from the American Revolution to dealing with insurgents in Afghanistan (or really covert stuff in our own borders, if you’re a fan of +Sean Punch‘s covert ops campaign).

Chinese .45 ACP Broomhandle!

Each firearm is given its place in history, some really fun design notes as to how and why it was made, plus some great stories, always hinting at the supernatural or just plain weird, on how it was used.

The weapons include a .50 Flintlock “Cemetary Gun,” a belt-fed .380 ACP small machinegun, two different .45ACP pistols based on a Mauser C96 “broomhandle” design, a monster .30-06 battle rifle, and an over-under pistol firing .380ACP in one barrel . . . and a gyrojet rocket in the other!

Pretty cool. Go read it.

This is an article-by-article review of Pyramid #3/57: Gunplay. While I don’t usually do this, the subject matter of this issue is just what this blog ordered, and even if one of my own articles is in it, I really think every article, and nearly every word, of this issue is worth reading. So, a series of (hopefully) shortish posts. You can find the first installment on Modern Warfighter: Gear here.
The Devil’s Chariot ( +Hans-Christian Vortisch )

The Devil’s Chariot is basically ‘everything you could ever want to know about the Mi-24V “Hind” helicopter. I mean everything. The article is divided into five sections.

I have to call out one bit in particular in the introduction. Hans uses a quote from the Bible to introduce the article, a long one from Revelations 9:7-10. It is totally creepy how well the quote can apply to helicopter gunships:

And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.

So after a short introduction on what may well be, as he says, “The world’s most famous helicopter,” he gets right to it.

MIL Mi-24V “Hind-E” (Russia, 1976-1986)

This is the introductory section. The vehicle is described in real-world terms, broadly. It covers some nicknames, as well as the production and usage history, including the Mi-35 export version. It then gives a brief rundown of who uses them, and in some cases how many were purchased and remain functioning. You definitely get a flavor for who bought them, and also that you’d better be prepared to spend significant maintenance effort on them – 75% of Uganda’s purchased rotorcraft are out of service!

The Mi-24V in Detail

When Hans says detail, he means detail.

The first bit covers the construction and armoring of the airframe, again in real-world terms, making it amenable to SWAG conversion to other systems that can base armor protection off of type and thickness of material. It briefly touches on the helicopter’s reputation for unvulnerability (the famous scene from the original Red Dawn where it shrugs off an RPG hit comes to mind)  and where that may have originated, and where it’s wrong.

Engine, payload, fuel system, electronics. Crew compartment and flight systems. GURPS skills required to successfully operate the craft. Gunsights. And a detailed and specific Hit Location Table with location penalties to hit each place, with footnotes talking about details and DR of each location. It’s well done, and I think all vehicles should have one.

In case you want to bring friends, Hans describes the layout and capacity of the cargo/passenger area, you can bring either four or eight friends along.

Hans has a penchant for weapon statistics and details, and this article proves no exception. He probably lists every single possible armament for the craft. Though the carrying capacity is surprisingly limited, mostly by engine power, the hardpoint rating for each mount is given. Then he details all the weapon loads used for the craft.

Mi-24V Armament

Without going into too many details, any new weapons are given the usual treatment. The write-ups include wonderful details such as design quirks (you can only fire ten bursts of any size with the main 12.7mm machinegun!) in addition to usual ammo load and usage notes.

The vehicle statline is provided on p. 20, along with the detailed armament table summarizing nine different weapons that can be mounted to the vehicle.

Using the Mi-24V

The article finishes up with some notes on use. First, how to get one in the first place, by nefarious or not-so-nefarious means. Hard to approach but easy to steal, seems like. Notes on how they’re used with the rules in GURPS Action 2 for chases and attacks are provided.

The article touches very briefly on operational employment (in pairs or trios) and covers why. A text box notes what movies you can see the Mi-24 (or mocked up ones) in action.

The last few paragraphs cover in meticulous detail every single thing found on the pilots or in the cabin of one of these aircraft. Right down to insect repellant and water purification tablets.

Parting Shot

Hard to say anything other than “it’s that complete.” If you are looking for a scary adversary or a worthy prize – but not something as sophisticated and expensive as say the AH-64D – you’ll find it here. The article is encyclopedic in scope and tone, but I’d be hard pressed to find anything missing.

In his Melee Academy post for July, +Peter V. Dell’Orto touches on enfilade fire, that is, shooting through a whole bunch of targets. GURPS can get a little wonky (or a lot wonky) when you apply rules that are pretty much built around point fire from one single source (usually a PC with a gun) against another point target (the designated NPC victim, most often).

He comments that it would be an interesting post to look at how GURPS does this in various ways, and see about what the best one would be for each. This is going to assume at least two shots, but may be many shots, since some high tech weapons can have RoF in the range of 60-100, that is, 3,600 to 6,000 bullets per minute. Even your bog-standard assault rifle types can have RoF 10-13, and rapid-cycling automatics firing pistol cartridges (like the MAC-11) can hit RoF 20.

Current Rules Options: Point Targets

GURPS has a couple ways of dealing with point targets – three that I can think of offhand. Let’s see what they are – or seem to be (more on that later).

Direct Fire

The simplest and best covered, and easiest to rationalize. Roll your skill, adjusted for many, many things (range, rate of fire, target location, aiming bonuses, target size, movement penalties, etc). If you succeed by 0, you hit once. For every margin of success equal to the gun’s Rcl, you hit with one more shot. Most non-sci-fi weapons have at least Rcl 2, so to hit with many bullets, you need to have a very high skill.

This reasonably accurately represents that most times, firing lots and lots of bullets at a target is not really done to hit lots and lots of times, but rather to increase the chances of hitting a few times.

For most situations, the point fire rules work just fine. Any bullets that miss are supposed to default to the Hitting the Wrong Target rules on pp. B389-390.

What happens when you miss?

Well, actually, that’s a darn good question. The rules for Hitting the Wrong Target and Overshooting and Stray Shots (p. B390) really seem to be tailored very much to arrows and such. One shot at a time. The Wrong Target rules make it very much seem like “which unlucky soul between you and your target got hit,” but since certainly you could miss high, the line of fire likely extends past him as well (how far?). The Overshooting rule refers to the projectile pretty consistently, and neither are really written with a mind to the assumption that in all likelihood, more shots miss than hit even on a successful attack.

So perhaps neither of these is really a great idea for guns and rapid fire. In fact, right now, I’m leaning towards “these don’t apply.”

OK, so I attack his hex! HA!

It’s sometimes funny how this blog works (or doesn’t. Your call.), since I’d never really stared at that rule before. Of course you can attack the hex someone’s in at +4, right?


Well, I don’t think so. Not for many weapons – only those that can engage in plunging fire, or as the Box on p. 414 makes clear, you “lobbed it in a high arc.” I’m not convinced that the +4 is due to the size of the hex, either. I think it’s the fact that it ain’t moving. That rule also says that attacking an area is for area-effect and explosive attacks – and area effect seems to have a pretty precise definition, and ‘firing lots of bullets at lots of hexes’ doesn’t really seem to apply.

So what about attacking a hex? It’s the very definition of a one-yard target, with the +2 bonus for blob, box, or sphere. So a hex is, well, SM+0 and attacked at neither a penalty or a bonus for size. Again, pretty sure that +4 is for immobility, not dimension.

Thing is, if you miss the hex, you’re supposed to use the scatter rules. Scatter for a hail of bullets? Actually, that’s not a bad concept in general. Let’s hold on to that for later.

How does any of this apply to Peter’s original question about what rules to use when attacking lots of guys in an area? Well, it doesn’t.

Not yet.

Current Rules Options: Dispersed or Area Targets

OK, so if the previous discussion hit shooting that guy over there, what about shooting at that whole bunch of guys with the torches, pitchforks, and thermal detonators?

Looks like you sort of have two options.

Spraying Fire (p. B409)

Within a 30-degree arc, you may choose to spread fire among as many targets as you like. Thing is, you waste a bunch of shots going from target to target, which is fine. However, you get to choose how many bullets of those not wasted you can sling at each one. Yow. That’s cool under fire, all right. You make a separate attack roll against each target at the effective RoF you dedicated. You can only do this if you have RoF 5 or higher.

Suppression Fire (p. B409)

The other way provided to attack an area is to mark out a two-yard-wide area, and shoot at it. You can fire up to your weapon’s full RoF, and you can attack basically a two-yard-wide swath from you to your target with a fairly low hit rate: 6 + the RoF bonus of your weapon. For every extra RoF 5, you may add another two-yard zone as long as you fire at least 5 bullets into each zone.


The point target rules work quite well, but a lot of the other stuff (even for point targets) squeak around the edges a bit. I think the existing concepts can be combined and recombined usefully here.

Missing and Point Fire

The Stray Shots and Wrong Target rules should probably be rationalized a bit. Maybe if you miss against a point target, you roll the same 1d6 for Scatter. 1 means you missed high (over the target); 4 means you missed low (short), 3/5 mean you were short and right/left, while 2/6 are long and right/left.

I’ll leave how much the attack missed by for another time. That can get ugly if done wrong.

Still, that would allow a GM to adjudicate where the line of fire went.

Suppression Fire

These are actually some of my favorite rules, and I think that they should be used more broadly. Any time you fire at a target, bullets that don’t hit your intended target create a cone of fire/suppressed zone that is hazardous to cross. If you enter that zone before the shooter’s next turn, you take suppression fire.

Spraying Fire

Yucky yucky. Too much fine control over bullets. To pull that off, use Ranged Rapid Strike, not the rules here. Then it makes more sense to choose between targets and allocate bullets. What I would do instead is something like picking a line of hexes N hexes wide, dividing the bullets evenly between them, and looking up the RoF bonus per equivalent hex. Look up the length of the line on the Size and Speed/Range Table and roll against 8 + the Range penalty + RoF bonuses (so a line 10 yards wide will roll vs a 4 + RoF bonus).

If you miss, and there are targets behind the ones you’re shooting at, extend the cone of fire, and re-calculate at the new range, and roll again.

Example: You are spraying fire into a cone which is five yards wide at your target location with a gun with an impressive RoF 60. That’s 12 shots for a +2 RoF bonus in each hex, against a base roll of 6. So for each target in this zone, you’re rolling vs. an 8-. If there is another target at twice the distance you’re shooting at, the width of the line doubles, and you now roll against a base of 4, but you’re now only putting 6 bullets into each hex, so your RoF bonus drops as well, and at this range, the spray fire bonus is only +1, so now you’re at 5-. Too much farther and you’re just missing or crit fishing.

You might be able to apply this to a mass of people as well. Figure out the width you’re dividing your fire, and if that width changes much going to the back of your formation. Figure out the general odds of each rank, roll appropriately. Work your way backwards. Either that, or just divide the total bullets by the total number of targets, and most likely you don’t get any RoF bonuses. Just roll based on line width for each target. +Sean Punch notes that the targets are actively moving around within their hex to a resolution or mesh size of more or less +/-1 hex at all times, so if in the die rolling that follows, you find that the guy in the back got plugged but the guys up front didn’t, well, them’s the breaks.

Parting Shot

GURPS is a game, not a ballistics simulation (my best efforts to the contrary notwithstanding!) and so there will likely be nothing short of such a simulation that will give plausible results for launching a hail of bullets downrange more or less skillfully. Not within the time constraints imposed by your friends revolting and beating you about the head with the hardcover GURPS rules while pelting you with d4s.

So the best you can hope for is something that gets you in the ballpark. My own preference would be to try and find a ruleset where you effectively either do point fire, even for suppession, or spray fire, with the attendant drops in per-target hit chance. The Wrong Target/Stray Shots rules can be directed either using a scatter mechanic (shooting low/left means that you can’t overshoot past the target, overshooting might mean that the first threatened zone is hundreds of yards away, etc.) or as they are now, but utilizing the suppression rules to pick your shots.

I don’t want to have “I want to use the Wrong Target rules, instead of suppression” be a viable choice.

So, did I answer Peter’s question? I fear not, but it was fun to noodle on this GURPS-Day!

GM: +Nathan Joy
Players: +Mark Langsdorf , +Theodore Briggs , +Emily Smirle , and me.

After we found the cleft in the wall from last game, we decided that we needed to just walk into trouble. So we followed the pathway up, whereupon Cadmus, still under the influence of being Pharasmically drunk or something, bumps into a wall, revealing a secret passage.

We follow that pathway until another surface, which clearly had to be a secret door as well. We found it, and saw a spiraling slide down into a large pit, 60′ below us.

I had a point unspent, and so I asked if I could spend it on Acrobatics, and slide around the spiral ramp on my shield. +Nathan Joy said yes. I made it most of the way around, slammed into a wall (1d-3 to my pride), then made it around the rest of the way.

Meanwhile, the more sane of us used the gear we brought: pitons and 700-lb. test rope, to scale down into the pit.

Each little cloud is an air spirit. Crap.

We saw lots of bones, lots of runes with the symbol of Sihhud, Demon Lord of blizzards and the frozen dead. We knew it was a trap, expected a trap, and a trap it was. The old guy (Tunuak), five or six hunters, and at least twelve air spirits popped up. Game on.

First valid action was +Mark Langsdorf ‘s Mystic Knight Shiba launching an exploding shrapnel arrow at one of the bad guys, which did about 2 points of damage to a whole bunch of air spirits (max), killed one hunter with three shrapnel hits and 26 cut damage. Cadmus slices at the torso of one, does 12 cut, and he seems fine, coming back to a guard stance.

Hmm. Cadmus smells demon on this one. The vertical eye slits do give it away. That probably means they’re amenable to Smite. 2d burn goes a long way, and if the air spirits are demony as well, that works.

For the bad guys first action, Tunuak casts a nasty fog spell, which obscures our vision past 2 yards. Icky.

Then, lots of spirits attack, with blows that go right through our parries, striking for 1d+3 (2) pi damage (we can read this right off of MapTool, which is a bit metagame. Still.) Staver eats 9 pi damage, while Cadmus takes only 1 HP through his DR 11 armor. That (2) works both ways.

Staver steps up and quick-shoots two arrows at some air spirit that must be visible to him. He hits with both despite the shock penalties. Both arrows are torn from their path by gale-force winds. Thumvar flies around to thee dge of the altar of bones at the bottom of the map. Shiba takes a swipe at a diffuse spirit, hitting but hey, diffuse. This brings him in visible range of Cadmus, who does a General Prayer to Pharasma for some assistance, but apparently the fates are not kind today. He does step close to Shiba, so they can go back-to-back.

We get attacked a lot by wind spirits, and Staver goes unconscious. Shiba takes a minor hit as well. Thumvar then tosses alchemists fire on the Evil Altar of Bones, which will burn merrily at 1d per second for a while. Cadmus, being reduced to pretty much mundane attacks, tries a shield bash and crit fails, spending a destiny point to not suck.

As the flames consume the altar, the spirits all flail around, flames licking all over them. Perhaps things are looking a bit less grim?

Maybe, maybe not. Our sorcerous friend disappears again (he used Body of Air last time, too), while a few of the hunters step up and attack our flanks – unsuccessfully thanks to shieldwork. The difficult terrain makes retreating impossible, though, so using retreats to reposition is not viable.

The alchemist’s fire continues to burn, and one Air Spirit vanishes from the map in front of Cadmus. Not sure if that’s dead or moved, but I’m not sorry either way.

Thumvar attacks the Hunter within reach, pulling one of his trademark Dual-Weapon Attacks, from the flank, also a Deceptive Attack. Bastard manages to block one, parry the other, despite eating -4 in penalteis. Was close, though.

Shiba does a telegraphed rapid strike for two solid hits and destroys an air spirit, and Cadmus invokes smite and goes up like a candle, taking 12 burn and dying.

Our inability to dissipate the fog is proving a real liability. For a DF party, we have some gaping holes we need to fill. This isn’t the first time we’ve been menaced by diffuse types.

Shiba’s turn comes, he casts Purify Air, nullifying the fog next to him, and Cadmus steps next to him, invoking Smite despite that he can’t see anything. He has guessed right, and a Hunter bursts into a pillar of fire and collapses. This formation crap actually works.

There’s an inarticulate scream of rage, a thunderclap, and then hunters drop like flies, collapsing.

Cadmus goes around doing Final Rest on every bone in sight, while Shiba pours major healing potions on Staver one at a time until he recovers. Staver’s down to -4 HP, but it takes both potions and only restores him to 4 HP. Cadmus tries Lay on Hands on the Infernal anyway:

Cadmus: says a prayer for Staver anyway, touching him lightly. Couldn’t hurt, and we’ll see if he’s been good this year

* Staver groggily opens one jaundiced eye to
blink at Shibas worried face.

GM: Staver, you feel a burning sensation.
Cadmus appears to be touching you and murmuring something.
Staver: And then promptly cringes at Cadmus,
Cadmus: “Sorry, sorry! Just thought I’d try
and see if God still hates you. Behave better.”
Staver: “It’s got NOTHING to do with me!”

* Staver swats at Cadmus’s hand.

Shiba: “Your kami is a strange sort,
Cadmus: That’s what they ALL say, you know.
Shiba: Looks around a bit more. “Why is that
altar on fire?”
Staver: “I’ve got second-hand problems, and
nobody consulted me about them.”
Cadmus: “Shiba, you don’t know the half of it,

We search around the pit for a while, but it looks like the sorcerer got away. Staver takes the opportunity to lecture Cadmus a bit (taken from OOC chat):

[9:01:04 PM] Emily Smirle: Staver uses small words “I. Am. Half. De. Mon.”
[9:01:17 PM] Christopher: LOL
[9:01:39 PM] Douglas Cole: “You da man?” “NO. DE-MON.”
[9:01:56 PM] Emily Smirle: “And nobody asked my permission for that first!”
[9:02:19 PM] Emily Smirle: Staver launches into a birds-and-bees discussion for the clearly poorly-educated holy warrior.
[9:02:31 PM] Douglas Cole: Hey, HOLY, not DEAD.
[9:02:45 PM] Douglas Cole: I miss Dawn
[9:02:58 PM] Emily Smirle: “You seem a little fuzzy on the details of what happens next, I’m just saying!”
[9:03:04 PM] crakkerjakk: Kevin will be missed.
[9:03:42 PM] Douglas Cole: OH, I can Lay on Hands and show her the Holy Glory, I can tell you.
[9:04:07 PM] Douglas Cole: Only then do we have our Final Rest.
[9:04:30 PM] Christopher: Many Shubs and Zulls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of a Sloar that day, I can tell you!

Cadmus finishes his exorcism ritual, cleansing the pit of fell influence. Then, looking around at the englyphed walls we find:

There are five panels of pictograms. The first shows black standing stones rising from icy hills. The second shows a cluster of towers glowing with a strange blue light. A third shows a single monolithic tower rising above what appears to be a black lake with white mountain peaks behind it. A fourth depicts a spiraling storm with long arms ending in ice-fanged jaws devouring Erutaki villages, with even longer arms reaching towards forests, crudely drawn castles and cities, and what may be ships at sea. Warriors are shown trying to fight the storm with spears before being engulfed and sealed in tombs of ice.The final panel shows a blue-skinned woman with dark wings and hair wearing a silver crown or circlet. Her had grasps one of the claw-symbols like a scepter, and spiraling streaks of silver and white curl away from it in every direction.

The blue-skinned demon babe is neither Pharasma nor Sihhud. We also find dragon shell fragments at the base of the altar. We have a bit of in-character fun:
Staver: “Is anyone else made uncomfortable by
the idea of mixing demons and dragons?”
Cadmus: Seems like a bad game. D&D?
Shiba: “It seems obscene.”
Staver: “It just seems like a terrible idea.”
Staver: “That too.”

We speculate a bit as well. Possibly possessed half-dragon, a mama dragon really pissed at having eggs stolen, or having a dragon slave attack those who are not “sufficiently faithful.”
Shiba is pretty sure the blue glowy towers are supposed to represent The Nameless Spires, a set of magical ruins on the north pole that radiate incredible magical energy that no one has ever returned form attempting to explore. And the fanged storm arms represent the morozkos, the killer storms that hit this area in the winter.

Shiba: black standing stones, north pole magical ruins, icy lake on our path, enemy wind spirits, demonic goddess? Oh joy.
Cadmus: You know we need to walk into those magic towers, right? Right?
Shiba: That’s probably a good idea. I meant “bringing up our hostess is a good idea”. Walking into the magical towers that no one ever returned from seems problematic as a plan.
Cadmus: Aw. “No one ever comes back” is clearly a challenge. To us.
GM: 🙂
Cadmus: We’d be cheating Destiny if we didn’t take it on
Shiba: It looks more like “get advice from our hostess”, then “take the caravan to unaimo”, then “find the lonely tower by the lake”, and then? Hopefully kill a behir and teleport to Tian or something.
Cadmus: and then seek out the mystical towers. Gotta be good stuff there if no one ever returns!
Shiba: Uhm.

and we called it there!

Parting Shot
It’s a good thing that Ted set the altar on fire. Otherwise, we would have all likely been “pecked” to death by armor-piercing attacks. 1d+3 isn’t all that much, but when you can only dodge, things can get ugly fast.

This is an article-by-article review of Pyramid #3/57: Gunplay. While I don’t usually do this, the subject matter of this issue is just what this blog ordered, and even if one of my own articles is in it, I really think every article, and nearly every word, of this issue is worth reading. So, a series of (hopefully) shortish posts.

Modern Warfighter: Gear (Kenneth Peters)

This article takes a look at (mostly) man-portable non-weapon equipment lugged around by TL8 soldiers of the lavishly-equipped set.

The article is grouped (by what we know as B-HEADs, or section dividers) into Full Battle Rattle, Uniforms, Body Armor, and New Equipment.

Each section is then given to High-Tech or Ultra-Tech style equipment descriptions. Ken is a military guy, and knows a lot of this equipment from personal experience, I think (his bio has him deployed for OIF/OEF at MARCENT as a Planning Specialist). Each item has not only the relevant details, but some worthy chestnuts on use, abuse, and how the troops look at stuff.

Full Battle Rattle

Clothing, drink, food, identification, light, navigation, and timekeeping make up the section on Basic Gear. Mostly these are references to equipment already listed in GURPS High-Tech. The section on Personal Gear is just that, covering everything from a notebook and space pen to tools, video, and computer equipment. The bits on Special Issue are purpose-built for certain missions and needs, and include B&E tools, biometrics, IED jammers, and signaling, just to pick out a few. While many of these continue the pattern of simply referencing gear in the wildly-complete High-Tech, some reference the new equipment section of this article, so there’s a mix of old and new, but each piece of equipment is given a note on when and why it might be issued.

Finally, there’s a short section on the personalization that soldiers do with their stuff. From quick-pull loops on magazines, to how magazines might have three tracer bullets in a 30-round mag, to gun-cleaning and first-aid kits – it’s got some flavor and usage notes to read.


This gives flavor and composition on the various types of uniforms that troopers might use. From utility uniforms, to infantry utility clothing (largely distinguished by being flame-resistant and much more durable), to semi-formal digs when you need to dress to impress without resorting to formalwear.

Body Armor

Mostly a descriptive section, with references to pre-written (High-Tech) and new equipment introduced in the article. A lot of this is given to useful information about the protection vs. comfort/mobility tradeoff, as well as speculation on whether future typical insurgent/militia types will enjoy the same level of protection as modern Western troops.

Alternate rules for donning armor, fatigue (with a shout-out to The Last Gasp in a box-text on encumbrance, so thanks Ken!), and off-size armor for people of odd sizes and shapes are also covered briefly but effectively.

New Equipment

This bit has thirty new pieces of cool kit. Each gets a full High-Tech-style write up (much more efficient than, say, Gangnam Style). Nifty gear includes anti-sniper bullet detectors, a whole buncha new armor and helmets, a couple of drones and robots, a gaggle of lasers for various purposes, and detection and protection equipment. Clothing, too.

Ballistic’s Report

This is basically somewhere between a really nifty TL8-based expansion to High-Tech, or more accurately, a bit-by-bit publication of a Loadouts book using Pyramid as a vehicle instead of the usual e23 route. Given the slowdown in GURPS througput due to the Big Ass Ogre, this is probably a wise choice!

Content-wise, for games featuring modern Western-style soldiers, or TL8/9 blends so common in Sci-Fi military movies and TV (Aliens comes to mind), this stuff is a valuable extension and expansion for the genre.

Good stuff, and nice work.

All sorceresses have tattoos,
I guess, but this one had a map!

Today was Pathfinder, day, with +Jeromy French as GM, and +kung fu hillbilly and +Matt Sutton joining me as players. +Joshua Taylor and Evil Gimble was missing tonight.

I am going to unashamedly talk spoilers here, so be warned.

Last game ended with a combat, our tower had been attacked by quite a large force. We’d reinforced anyway, and as usual we played out the battle mostly with the teeming hordes of the bad guys in the background. We basically wound up chasing a sorceress around for a while, eventually killing her.

Turns out there was some interesting stuff tattooed on her back, which naturally Evil Gimble had flayed off and made into a nice portable map.

Hey! Something like this . . . but skin

Evil-aligned characters can get away with that sort of thing, and the rest of us neutral types mainly just make noises of “is that really necessary.”

Anyway, the map had a key bit on it, a bit of a puzzle-poem, which I won’t fully reproduce.

Nonetheless, Admiral Allejandro (Kung Fu Hillbilly’s bard) totally nailed every single Knowledge: Local and other Knows Trivia roll he was asked to make, so we were able to deduce the rough corner of the ocean we should visit.

It was only a week away, so we gathered up a crew, set sail, and headed out doing what pirates do: looking for buried treasure.

The area we arrived at reminded me instantly of somewhere I’ve seen before: the Big Blue Hole in Belize. Other than some typically odd vine structures which led us to decide that there was no way in hell we were taking our ship in there, we more or less did pretty well in figuring out where to go (it didn’t hurt that the critical

Perception roll to see man-sized caves was a 33). Anyway, we decided that we’d needed to wait until dawn to ensure we got the right place. We did, saw what we expected to see, figured out the final clue without die-rolling, and went spelunking. Or climbing, and then digging, and then falling, and then spelunking. And attacked by Sahuagin.

These are like Nazis to Indiana Jones: “Sahuagin. I hate these guys.”
“Sahuagin. I hate these guys.”

Anyway, thanks to the off-camera action of Evil Gimble, we had lots of potions to let us breathe underwater and give a nice bonus to Swim. So despite forgetting the Coral Crossbows we’d looted which work remarkably well underwater, we made fairly short work of five or so Sahuagin, taking a few minor wounds in the process.

Next week, Gimble will hopefully join us as we continue the dungeon crawl to look for the loot.

OK, so last post featured a note about a sorceress with tattoos.

No problem there. That seemed a good iconic image to search for.

So I went and did what I always do: hit Google for it. “Sorceress Tattoos images

So, I wind up picking this image of the iconic sorceress for Pathfinder: Seoni.

Here’s the trick, though. Go ahead and follow the link – but not at work.

I almost went with this one.  But, well, a lot of these are pretty much NSFW, and while I can appreciate cheesecake in many respects, I do try and keep this blog something that by and large I don’t have to turn off the screen when my preschool-aged daughter walks up.

This one is not too bad . . .

And seriously: is that dragon flying out of her butt?

Am I being overly prudish? Some of those images are quite nice, and might have fit even better than Seoni. But, on the other hand . . .

I like it when people come to visit. I love it when people make comments. I hope that the images make the posts more fun, alive, occasionally amusing, etc. And I think that eschewing stuff that might either get you sent straight to HR or having a too-early conversation with a young child is the right call. Do I overthink this one?

I’ve got another article in this month’s Pyramid magazine. Called “Dodge This,” it was the result of a long series of discussions between me and +Peter V. Dell’Orto about dodging firearms and bullets. It was somewhat a reaction to my experiences which led me to write The Occasional Silliness of Dodging Lasers, and the follow-up on “Lesser Silliness.”

Peter and I went back and forth quite a bit on structuring the article, and while I did a lot of the number crunching (it’s what I do), Peter is really good about making sure that things work in play. He’s also a big fan of minimizing the number of rolls and contests, so that play is minimally disrupted. So the article, though he basically said “it’s all you” and gave me sole credit, is as much his as mine.

With that, here was a quick summary of the issue that Ken Peters threw down on the GURPS Forums. I need to take the time to go over the entire issue myself and make my own comments. But in the meantime, I leave you with his words:

Modern Warfighter: Gear Slowly but surely you’ll be getting an entire book out of this 🙂 This article covers the non-weapon gear for a modern warfighter that currently doesn’t have an entry in the gear books. It also goes into some detail on military uniforms (I kept this very generic and rules legal) because that’s actually a rather interesting subject all by itself (this is kept very generic and I avoided US-centric absolutes when possible).
More information on body armor that extends Tactical Shooting? Check pp. 8-9 
Need stats for the Switchblade missile/UAV? That’s on p. 13 under Loitering Munition.
Curious about those barricades you see around bases and embassies? On p. 14 they are described under Multi-Cellular Defense Barriers.

What are the stats for modern FROG gear and other infantry uniforms? Check p. 8 easy peasy.

Canine tactical harnesses? See p. 11 my friend. I got it all covered.

The Devil’s ChariotThe very image of badass Russian hardware for decades: The Mi-24 Hind. Han’s left no detail unmentioned in this article, especially for applying this vehicle to a GURPS Actioncampaign.

The article covers the Mi-24V in detail, including information on the electronic warfare systems, what you can attach to the hardpoints, the flight controls, and even the seat layout (no graphics, unfortunately).

The guns obviously get the Han’s level of detail and there NINE new weapons with full stats and background information provided.

Curious as to what was contained on the survival gear of the crew? Did you know it had 20 water-purification tablets? Well now you do, because Hans has listed everything (with High-Tech page references). 

Eidetic Memory: Brock-Avery GunsThe manufacturer may be fictional, but the guns have detailed backgrounds and at least one is listed for every major era of play. The grave gun was particularly interesting and I had to look it up (yes, they really existed). A good example of how to take a theme and apply to something that is usually considered just an appliance.
BTW the mention of Transient Lunar Phenomena was pretty interesting. Need to see if I can get a database of those locations 🙂

Dodge ThisDouglas “Crunch King (in training)” Cole wrote this article to address the common question of “why is it so easy to dodge ranged attacks in GURPS?” After all, even in Rifts you have that -10 to dodge and that’s hardly a paragon of realism!
Well, he breaks it down for you. So complete is the article that I don’t really know what else to say. IF a player ever gripes about the dodge rules, especially the notes from Tactical Shooting, I’ll just print this off and hand it to them without saying a word. Maybe a grunt of command to actually read the entire thing.
What’s also interesting is that he extends the rules for Parry, Block and Dodge to cover all sorts of ranged attacks (and not just thrown weapons) – even spells!

The Nock Volley GunSometimes seen, never really described, this article is about a particularly interesting historical weapon ( That alone isn’t very exciting or novel, but what sells it are the optional rules that really spell out why this thing remains a historical artifact 🙂
I found the rules regarding the insane muzzle blast of this gun to be particularly noteworthy!

Magic BulletsNeed to put a diamond shard in your bullets to hunt that monster? This article has you covered, my friend. Obsidian cored rounds with a wolf tooth enamel coating? It’s just an order away!

This article extends the already voluminous list of “special loads” for bullets as seen in HorrorMonster Hunters, and Pulp Guns.

Random Thought Table: Make Each Shot CountHere Steven discusses using ammo itself as a pacing mechanism instead of just a largely forgotten bit of character sheet accounting. As he notes, many people approach this from a video game perspective where acquiring ammo is something you can do at a dead sprint with daemons spitting blood a footstep behind and you can casually load it even underwater or while on fire.

IMO this is one of the best Random Thought Tables in a long time, and I’m sure there will be a lot of GMs who get their eyes opened to these types of game balancing and plot pacing concepts.

Ballistic’s Report

I had a good time writing my own article. I won’t say that it just fell together, but Peter’s influence made itself felt in an entirely productive way. Not only did knowing I had a prospective co-author mean I buckled down and got my stuff done (I’m better with a deadline), but I sort of had to ask myself WWPD as well as WIWIP (would it work in play) more often than I usually do.

That probably means I asked it just less than I should.

I tend to write as a menu of options, fully endorsing what I feel is a core GURPS concept: “pick the rules you want, toss the rest.” Some of my options you might not like. Great! Ignore them. I write a lot of my rules articles to address issues that I see that bug me, but they might not bug everyone.

That Ken really liked my article is very gratifying, and I think that one of the reasons this article works (and rereading it, I do think it has a lot of goodness to it) is that it directly addresses an issue that, quite seriously, had every single player (including my wife) groaning about how unrealistic it was to just keep dodging laser beams. No amount of “but you’re dodging the line of fire” was going to make up for that.

So I knew there was something there, and the article on MECE applied to attack and defense rolls cinched it up: there were several options that might get it done.

From there, it was a matter of some clarifying discussion with Peter, a first draft, and then my usual suspects did the proofread and comment. I found so much utility in my Technical Grappling playtest that I try and hit up some of them, plus a few others, as often as I can to ensure I don’t miss important bits.

If you haven’t read the article, I’d certainly appreciate it if you would! If you have, I’d love to hear your thoughts – even if you thought it lacking.