A general games magazine published by Steve Jackson Games, Pyramid saw a mere thirty issues in print, but still lives on the Internet. The web site, at the time of this writing, is located at www.sjgames.com/pyramid. Pyramid has a stated editorial policy of not being a 'house organ' and as such accepts articles for any reasonably popular game and especially articles useful for roleplaying games.

It is a good example of a reasonably thriving online magazine, and shows the benefits of paying for Internet content - sure, free game stuff can be found everywhere, but stuff on Pyramid's been through an editor and can be assumed to be worthwhile. Plus, it has spam-free, active newsgroups, for those so inclined.

This (superb) publication came out bimonthly from AD 1993 May until AD 1998 March/April by Steve Jackson Games. One of the main forces behind its creation was the noted author and editor Derek Pearcy, who was listed as the “architect” in the credits right up through issue #9 and served as editor for the first two issues.

The reason it finally migrated to the web was because in print form it was loosing money. While it has not reached the same levels of circulation it did while in print it has started to turn a small profit and so the 3000+ subscribers look forward to many years of useful roleplaying information and articles.

On the newsgroups that come with subscription to the magazine a culture has grown that allows discussion of some rather esoteric subjects in the two years since it ceased paper publication. Among other things the fact that some leaders of the roleplaying community will correspond with the fans on a very friendly and informal basis. Of note in this category (in early AD 2001) are Kenneth Hite, John M. Ford, David Pulver, John Kovalic, and Doc Cross. (John Wick also published a column called Playing Dirty in the magazine.)

The subscribers who read and post to the newsgroups have become known collectively as Pyramidians and even have their own peculiar traditions, like substituting the word Newark for Hell and various online writing games in the .sjgames.fnord group.

Notable Features:

  • Pyramid Picks- Reviews of what is good in roleplaying
  • Suppressed Transmission- High weirdness from Kenneth Hite
  • Dork Tower- The comic by John Kovalic
  • Murphy’s Rules- Poking fun at ourselves with the silly rules sometimes found in games
  • Random Thought Table- The name of the current Editor’s Column
  • Gaming News

More information can be found at:

http://www.diac.com/~michalak/
The Guide to the Pyramidians

http://www.sjgames.com/pyramid/
The Offical Site

Well, to begin with, I'm old-school enough that I don't consider the current online incarnation of Pyramid to be a magazine. Magazines are on paper, they have a table of contents, they include those irritating subscription cards, you can buy them in bookstores, you can read 'em in the bathroom without having to set your machine up next to the potty. The online Pyramid is a subscription website, and calling it a "magazine" doesn't really make it a magazine.

Nevertheless, I've been subscribing to the Pyramid site for the last several years, and their tagline--"The Best in Gaming"--is spot-on accurate. They publish games, adventures, variants, and supplemental information for just about every genre of roleplaying games and for just about every major game system. They publish quite a lot of material for GURPS, which is owned by Steve Jackson Games, but it's not uncommon for several weeks to go by with no material for GURPS.

One of Pyramid's best points is the strong crossover factor of most of their articles--a fantasy scenario will often include pointers on how to convert it to be played in a science fiction game, a modern military game, or a secret conspiracy game. Likewise, their many articles on historical and technological minutiae are useful to a wide variety of gamers--an overview of 12th-century Constantinople can be used by fantasy, historical, and time travel gamers, while stats for World War II weaponry can be useful for espionage and military campaigns, as well as for just about any campaign set after WWII. Of course, Pyramid also has a reputation for publishing funny stuff, including articles about cheese magic, mutant chickens in the Wild West, vampire pigs, Lovecraftian superheroes, and who's really buried in Grant's Tomb.

If any one feature is absolutely worth paying for (aside from the comics--John Kovalic's "Dork Tower" and David Morgan-Mar's "Irregular Webcomic!" are both wonderful), it's got to be Kenneth Hite's "Suppressed Transmission" column, which focuses on the weird, the esoteric, the horrific, and the Illuminated. Topics can range from William Shakespeare, Jack the Ripper, and James Forrestal to Coca-Cola, Emperor Norton, and the Philadelphia Experiment. They're always entertaining, thought-provoking, and minutely researched.

The downside of Pyramid is the discussion boards. The users of the board call themselves "Pyramidians", and they are, in general, a pack of gibbering, pretentious, moralistic nimrods. They often congratulate themselves on being "better and smarter than Usenet"; strangely, however, they still indulge in as much flaming, baseless egotism, partisan-blinded hypocrisy, thuggish bullying, poor scholarship, backstabbing, racism, bigotry, bizarre pro-KKK rants, and bald-faced lies as Usenetters do. They also like to trumpet themselves as a community, but many is the time I've seen Pyramidians rebuked and reviled for (A) fretting over troll-issued death threats, (B) worrying about the possibility that their subscriptions would be revoked (Don't ever joke about copyright theft on those boards; Steve Jackson gets way pissed about it), or (C) not worshipping at the altar of Joss Whedon/ J. Michael Straczynski/ the Wachowski Brothers/ Glen Cook. (Although sci-fi author John M. Ford's posts were always worth reading, as all of his sig lines were unique, original, and howlingly funny) The best reason to read their discussion boards is to be reminded how good we have things here on E2.

In summation, read it and love it for the articles. Skip everything else.

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