July 5, 2015: All Hail 20 Years Of The Kromm Regime!
My first email to Sean Punch (a.k.a. "Dr. Kromm" -- or just plain "Kromm," as I refer to him most of the time) was in February of 2000, right after I'd taken over as editor of Pyramid magazine. At that time -- over 15 years ago -- Kromm had already been the GURPS line editor for nearly five years.
Today, I still edit Pyramid (among other duties), and Kromm is still the GURPS line editor. During that time, GURPS has seen the transition from Third Edition to the award-nominated Fourth Edition (which he co-authored), and the RPG market has both grown in public perception and metamorphosed a few different ways. GURPS itself has transformed with the times, and supplements in recent years have covered tactical gunplay, social interactions, impossible spaceships, and much more.
For folks considering GURPS, one of the strengths I push is that the Fourth Edition has been around for 10 years, with no signs of switching to something new anytime soon. That means new supplements can cover fresh ground, rather than making you rebuy umpteen revised versions of older books. That strength also has an ace up its sleeve: Sean Punch, who has served as the lynchpin of GURPS for two decades. Very few games have as consistent and brilliant a "voice" as GURPS does with Kromm. That secret weapon has ensured a unity and cohesiveness in GURPS.
Kromm is a study in contradictions. He's intelligent, but eminently accessible. He has a command of hard science, but he delights in monsters and dragons. He understands the needs of realism, but he knows that games must be fun. He has a mastery of the English language, but his writing and editing is inviting and unpretentious. Somehow -- boggling my very brain -- he speaks both English and French.
He's written dozens of supplements (over 40 from my math), covering zombies, action-movie gaming, meta-gaming constructs, dungeon-crawling, and much more. He's directly edited about the same number of supplements, and comprehensively reviewed pretty much every manuscript that bears the GURPS name. (I'd wager just about every GURPS author this millennium has experienced the hefty Word document from Sean when he reviews a first draft, with insight on everything from organizational trouble spots to game-mechanical flaws to gamer-essential omitted info to punctuation problems . . . he's that exhaustive.)
He's also eminently accessible. He answers innumerable questions on the GURPS forums, he's meticulous about responding to email, and he's just plain nice. (I heartily recommend meeting him at a convention sometime if you can!)
I've long said that -- if an editor is any good -- you don't know it. It's almost certainly a bad sign when someone is reading something and thinks, "Gee, someone edited the heck out of this!" But Sean has been involved with nearly every GURPS item for decades, and his presence is like oxygen; undetectable when present, but immediately noticeable if it were missing.
I'm proud to call Sean Punch a co-worker and a friend, and I'm grateful he's helped to ensure one of the best darn RPG systems ever continues to earn its place in the Hall of Fame of gaming goodness. It's been an honor and a privilege to work with him for the past couple of decades, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the next decades bring. All Hail Kromm!
-- Steven Marsh
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