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Words from the Wise (Guys)

An Editorial Rant


To the fourteenth issue of The Guild Companion and the first of our special themed issues:

Points-Based Systems

If you look at many, if not most, of the new role-playing games on the market today, you'll notice that their character creation process is some variation on a points-based mechanism. You have one or more sets of points with which to purchase attributes, skills, and special background options. The number and value of points differ from system to system, as do their exact usage, but the principle is the same. You can generate any character that you want (within the points limit and any gamemaster-imposed limits) rather than relying on the vagaries of dice rolls.

With this in mind, we decided to produce a special issue on the theme of points-based systems. We approached a number of games companies currently producing role-playing games with points-based mechanisms and solicited articles on why they believed points-based systems (and in particular their own systems) were successful. As you might expect, editors and line developers are very busy people, and so only two submissions were received. However they are exceptional articles and well worth reading.

Sean Punch, also known as "Dr Kromm", is GURPS Line Editor for Steve Jackson Games. In this role, he reads proposals, chooses writers, proofreads manuscripts, and serves as the ultimate rules guru for the GURPS-playing world. So just to be different, his article "Getting the Point" discusses the superiority of points-based systems from a marketing perspective.

Kevin Wilson is a co-designer of 7th Sea, probably the most exciting fantasy role-playing game release of 1999. Kevin is now heavily involved with the design of 7th Sea supplements such as the Nations of Theah series. His article considers points-based systems from a personal viewpoint in terms of character variety and "screen time".

We (at The Guild Companion) would like to express our thanks to Sean and Kevin for participating in this themed issue. We hope you (the readers) will enjoy both these articles.

Industry News

Hasbro has gained the licensing rights to the best-selling "Harry Potter" children's books from Warner Brothers. Wizards of the Coast, as a Hasbro division, will be developing role-playing and trading card games based on the books. Sources at Wizards of the Coast have indicated that the role-playing games will be aimed at introducing a younger audience to the hobby with the hope of bringing new players eventually to Dungeons & Dragons.

Wizards of the Coast have announced that they are discontinuing the Alternity product lines. The rationale is twofold: sales of Alternity products are insufficient to justify development costs; and Wizards wishes to consolidate all its role-playing games under a single rules system (the "D20 System" which underpins the upcoming 3rd Edition of Dungeons & Dragons.

Publication of the Dark Matter campaign will continue through this year, and Wizards still intend to publish StarCraft and Gamma World Campaign Setting (yes, yet another incarnation of Gamma World!). Most of the other expected Alternity products will be appearing in electronic form on Wizards of the Coast's websites.

Guild Companion News

The Guild Companion now has its very own moderated mailing list so that you can receive news about the webzine as it happens. Ensure that you don't miss out on new issues and announcements by signing up today. Just send an email to announce-subscribe@guildcompanion.com and get yourself on the list.

There have been a number of discussions among webzine staff about the feasibility of producing a Guild Companion T-shirt. Would you be interested in such an essential item of haute couture? Drop us a line on the General Discussion Board. If there's sufficient interest, we will run a competition to determine the best design.

Farewell (for now ...)

That's it from me for this month. The next issue will be appearing in May 2000, and you'll be treated to another Guest Editorial from another member of the webzine staff. I'm off to ambush next month's victim!

Have fun and keep gaming

Nicholas HM Caldwell,
General Editor,

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