Sunday, September 11, 2016

Review: Pyramid #3/86 - Organizations

Pyramid has color cover art
even though it isn't in
This is an issue that I seem to have to constantly recommend to people because they are always asking, "how do I build a base?" This issue covers that among other things, so let's take a look at what it gives us then.


Table of Contents.
This is a teensy bit shorter than some Pyramid issues at 37 pages, but plus or minus a page or two isn't a big problem... is it? This issue has 8 features/articles, 7 of them pertaining to GURPS, one being a preview-ish piece for Car Wars. From the title, you can tell this is something of a social engineering heavy issue. It has content based on Dungeon Fantasy 17: Guilds, Boardroom and Curia, and Social Engineering - Back to School, among those, Boardroom and Curia is probably the most critical prerequisite, but you definitely want the others to take full advantage of this issue. I've reviewed two of the three in the past, and they are all good books - I'd recommend Boardroom and Curia to anyone, Dungeon Fantasy 17 to any Dungeon Fantasy fans, and Back to School to anyone that wants more detailed studying rules.
In terms of content, we have a rules heavy article, a guidance heavy article, two fluff heavy articles, a data heavy article, and two editorials. Despite saying one article is "data heavy," and by which I mean it is based around giving stats for stuff, there is a large amount of stats throughout the entire issue. The art is exceptional in this issue, and the pull-quotes are fine. Overall, this is a really good issue if you like Boardrooms and Curia, and even if you don't, if you need rules for building a base, it still might be worth your time.

What's in a Lair

This 10 page article, by Christopher R. Rice is about... building lairs, hideouts, what have you, inspired by, but not directly dependent on Boardroom and Curia. The abstraction tries to stick with what might be important for players to know to use and interact with a hideout, and thus uses parameters in that vein to define it. Using stats like capacity, staffing levels, upkeep, resources, defenses, and similar, attributes can be derived that explain the amount of staffing, how difficult it is to build, how useful it is as an ally or how detrimental it is as an enemy. All together, it walks you through building a base with the following metrics:
  • Capacity
  • Size
  • Staff
  • Tech Level
  • Legality Class
  • Equipment Quality
  • Creation Cost
  • Creation Time
  • Repair Cost and Time
  • Upkeep Cost and Time
  • Resources
  • Patron Value and Enemy Value
  • HP, DR, and Weight
  • Concealment
  • Security
  • Fortifications
  • Fixtures
Of those, special attention should be given to fixtures, these are special bits of functionality that don't quite fit into any of the other categories, and includes things like laboratories, healing, workshops and the like. That said, the fortifications, concealment, and security also have tons of options, and it's just interesting reading up and down the shopping list.

Designer's Notes - Boardroom and Curia/Dungeon Fantasy 17: Guilds

Matt Riggsby, author of both books named in the title, and of course this 4 page article, speaks to the underpinnings of the books. He starts off explaining the differences and the similarities between the two. Included in the article is something of a rosetta stone converting Boardroom and Curia Organization Types to AR Types ala Pulling Rank and similar to what is used in Guilds. The article concludes with a description of an organization, the "faerie court," built using both systems to compare and contrast the important metrics of each.
This article has some new "outtake" content for Boardroom and Curia, but the main point is the reflection on the source material for producing the two books. It is an interesting read, and the faerie court is a pretty interesting bit, but there is not a lot to take away from it and reuse; just a fun read.

Eidetic Memory - The Most Worshipful Royal Society of Teratologists

This six page article by David L. Pulver, writes about an organization bent on capturing and researching monsters. The article lays out the founding of the society in question - Dr. Pond is inspired to better organize the teratological body of knowledge, that is, what is known about monsters due to his father being killed in a way that could have been prevented if people were better informed. The majority of the article is a pleasurable read on the early days and development into a respected organization of The Most Worshipful Royal Society of Teratologists, but it concludes with some hard stats that make implementing it into a GURPS game (specifically recommending Dungeon Fantasy.) It includes typical bounties and requests and what types of interactions adventurers can expect to have with the society if they should run into it or decide to work with them.
I think it's a well developed society, and I might almost drop it right into a Dungeon Fantasy campaign as is, but it seems a little funny that Guilds stats weren't included. Maybe it was written well before Guilds was released? Oh well, if you use the Designer's Notes in the previous article, it might not be difficult to reproduce Guild stats if you want them.

Designer's Notes - Back to School

Social Engineering - Back to School was the one book I haven't reviewed of the three so far. William H. Stoddard reflects on some information that couldn't fit in the book in this 4 page article. The majority of the feature focuses on a few settings (with Boardroom and Curia stats) that were omitted from the finished book:
  • Merlin Hall - A magical school, apparently associated with GURPS Locations: Worminghall
  • Mistress Blake's Establishment - A "school" of sorts, Susannah Blake trains orphans in TL5 Britain how to pick pockets.
  • Nikola Tesla High School - A Sci Fi contemporary school for students gifted with supernatural abilities.
  • The Shining Temple of the Autumn Wind - A Chinese temple that teaches Martial Arts.
I find the settings interesting, but they are not specifically compatible with anything that I run. I find them more useful as a template for creating my own organizations instead. One really interesting bit on p.26 introduces the idea of a leveled version of Accelerated Learning, with a discussion on the kinds of disruption that might wreak if unchecked.

The Knights Templar

This three page article by Graeme Davis gives stats for the knights templar at three points in history. It starts off with a history lesson explaining the rise, fall, and then contemporary urban legends surrounding the group, and then gives stats as might be appropriate for 1130 CE, 1250 CE, and today. It's a well researched article, and it is a helpful template for realistic middle ages military organizations, but I haven't found much use for it. It includes a bibliography too, by the way. I wish more articles included them.

Random Thought Table - Organization Rules!

This two page feature by Steven Marsh is an editorial in favor of having lots of rules to work from. The premise is that weird rules for things you don't normally think about can lead to inspiration. The example given is his reaction to some seemingly superfluous attributes when designing the Elvey Institute for Pyramid #3/84. When giving it a critical thought, it allowed him to make a more interesting complete organization by addressing a facet that he didn't originally think about.
I agree with this, I've even written before how much I like having lots of rules, but he works at it from a different angle, and maybe it is a case of preaching to the choir, but that makes it all the more enjoyable.

Short Bursts - Muckleshoot

A one page ad/fiction set in the Car Wars universe by Matt Riggsby. I have no opinions or observations!

Odds and Ends

We have a short half page look at secret organizations and recommendations to look at a few books for information on secret advantages and disadvantages. The other half of the page talks about the cover art, and asks you to visit the artist Brandon Moore's homepage.

Other Thoughts and Conclusion

The majority of this issue is stats for organizations and the fluff or historical background for them. I think it is a good reference if you need examples like I do when practicing with new mechanics. I dunno how to pull up realistic numbers for staffing, and having a large array of them here is just what I needed. Me being a rules loving kinda guy, the What's in a Lair? article is the star of the show though. Unfortunately, I haven't really had a chance to exercise any of the mechanics laid out in this issue at all. I have used Guilds in a game that died really quickly and have used Boardroom and Curia to stat a few organizations, but I haven't found myself needing this issue often, thought I'd really like to exercise the lair building rules. Oh well!


  1. Thank you for posting this - just the other day I was searching through Social Engineering and City Stats because I was *certain* there was an entry on Organizations and making stats for them. I can't check just this second but I'm pretty sure this is the one I was thinking of.

    1. Boardroom and Curia is probably the book you are looking for, but his issue has a lot of extra guidance to go hand in hand with it.

    2. Seems like I do not have Boardroom and Curia - looks like I'll be adding that one to the list.

      Thanks again!


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