RPG Articles of Yesteryear
While tooling around in the Steve Jackson website, it occurred to me to look up my own name. Over 20 years ago I sold an article for Pyramid Magazine, which was dedicated to the GURPS roleplaying game, a game I played quite a bit through the 90s. The article was called “Machine Magic,” and presented a new type of magic that used specially-built magical machines that connected to ethereal gears that (in the fiction) powered everything in the world behind the veil of our reality. The three monster entries I sold to West End Games for their Torg “Creatures of Aysle” bestiary was the first sale I ever made in this industry, but this was the first one that stood on its own. I don’t remember how much I made on that sale—not much, I’m sure, but I might as well have been paid in gold doubloons, I was so excited.
Somehow I forgot about another article I sold to them a year or two later. While looking for the Machine Magic article, to see if it was still even out there somewhere, I stumbled upon this gem. How could I have forgotten about this? The idea was certainly inspired by Torg, which uses a specialized card deck to determine initiative and to give the player characters some extra narrative control, but rather than propose a similar deck for GURPS, I offered rules on how to use a standard card deck or Tarot deck to create a similar effect.
The article is free, their way of promoting the other magazine content. After this sale, I went a good 15 years making only free stuff for my own use or as fan freebies. I also moved away from GURPS right around the time this was published. They make some of the most undeniably excellent supplements (I was once almost selected to rewrite their Swashbucklers setting book for a 2nd edition, a job that would have honestly been above me at the time), but the system was just too much for me to handle. It is notorious for being extremely “crunchy,” which in tabletop RPG terms means it has a lot of rules. Plus the 3rd edition of D&D came out right around that same time and I, like most of the RPG world at the time, got sucked into it pretty hard for a few years.
Anyway, it’s such a weird experience to stumble upon your own forgotten writing. My memory isn’t so great, but I would have thought for sure I’d remember another RPG sale!