Designer's . . . uh, Managing Editor's Notes: GURPS All-Star Jam 2004

By Andrew Hackard

The question I get asked second-most often about this book is "Will there be a GURPS All-Star Jam 2005," to which I can only answer "We'll see, but I sure hope so."

The question I get asked most often is "What were you thinking?" This article hopes to answer that question.

* * *

When we were looking at the 2004 schedule, we realized we needed another GURPS book early in the year. After discussing all the various ideas that were kicking around from our top authors, I had a brainstorm -- ask nine of them to write 10,000 words on whatever topic they wanted. (I did veto a couple, I will admit, mostly for a decent mix of chapters in the book.) No one said no -- and Beth McCoy roped Walter Milliken into helping her out, probably by using a Song of No Dinner For You -- and several of them pulled out ideas they'd had which were too big for Pyramid, too small for even a small GURPS book, blew the dust off, and said "I've been waiting for this chance my whole life, Mr. Trump."

Er, wait, that was tonight's "The Apprentice." Perhaps I should wait to write this until I'm done watching TV . . .

As the chapters came in, I assigned them to whichever editor looked the most bored, or wandered by my office first, cackling madly as I imagined their attempts to reduce each and every chapter by 25%. Because, you see, overcome with excitement, every single author asked for permission to exceed wordcount, and (when that permission was denied) did it anyway. Those scamps!

(I should note that I'm writing this on April 1. Some of the previous paragraph, therefore, is not entirely accurate. April Fools!)

We pulled out the +5 Machetes of Word-Whacking and got to work, knocking each chapter back under the 10-kiloword threshold while not losing too much content in the process. Many thousands of syllables died at our hands, but in the end, all the surgeries were successful, and we had nine leaner, meaner chapters for our trouble.

Layout proceeded apace; we tested a new page design with All-Star Jam (you may have noticed) as stealthy prep work for the GURPS Fourth Edition layout, and made sure to put the new font (New Aster, at 90% width, as if any of you cared) through its paces. And then, we had to get art.

It's at this point that I sent a very odd request to our authors: would they supply a photograph for our cover artist to use as reference? They complied, more or less willingly, and when they saw Greg Hyland's cover sketch, most were amused. But they didn't know the half of it . . . we didn't tell them that we were having Greg do the interiors as well. I had a ball writing the art specs (be sure to hunt for hidden or not-so-hidden pyramids!) and working the authors in as much as I possibly could. I think this book is something special, and I wanted to be sure that its illustrations were equally, um, special. From some of the comments I've been hearing, we succeeded.

(And it's worth noting that no author has actually complained about their portraits -- at least, not to me. That's not an invitation, guys.)

* * *

Back to that first question, about next year's book . . . there are certainly some very fine GURPS authors who weren't included in this volume. Sean Punch is probably the most glaring omission, but now you all know why he didn't have time to contribute this year. With luck, he can squeeze us in for 2005. I'd love to see what Bob Schroeck, Michael Suileabhain-Wilson, or Chad Underkoffler would do with 10,000 words and near-total freedom, too. So I think the chances of an All-Star Jam 2005 are pretty good, especially if fan reaction continues to be as positive as the early returns have indicated. And I can't wait to get started on it. Thanks to everyone who embraced my wacky idea, to all the authors who contributed, to Greg for turning my dumb ideas into brilliant drawings, and to all of you for making it possible.

Article publication date: April 2, 2004

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