Author: Thomas M. Kane
Company/Publisher: Steve Jackson Games
Page count: 128 pages
Capsule Review by Paul Franklin on 10/20/98.
Genre tags: Fantasy Science_fiction Modern_day Historical Horror Far_Future Space Espionage Conspiracy Post-apocalypse Generic
GURPS Egypt is everything you have come to expect from a GURPS book. However, there are also things missing from GURPS Egypt. While only small detractors, this book still left me feeling I was missing parts of the big picture which comprised Ancient Egypt. Of course, one of the largest problems with trying to cover a subject as broad as Ancient Egypt with a 128-page book is that you cannot possibly hope to cover as much information as needed, and this is where GURPS Egypt stumbles.
While most of the book is presented in the classic Steve Jackson style with sidebars containing interesting side-stories, in this book, these become almost necessary. Without these, this book would have been entirely too shallow to be truly useful. Over half of the book is strictly background material, with the other half being taken up with game stats, character templates, campaign seeds, and an interesting bestiary. The only detractor from the presentation of the book is the inclusion of the religious chapter smack dab in the middle of the game stats, almost as an afterthought right before the last chapter of the book.
One of the shining areas of GURPS Egypt is the detailed account of daily life in Ancient Egypt. This chapter gives an insight into the day to day lives of ancient Egyptians and how they lived and died. This chapter was fascinating in that it debunked some of the stories I had previously heard of ancient Egyptian life. While I suspect that some parts of their culture were glossed over, this section is well worth the price of the book alone.
The next section is the ever so brief listing of the dynasties and their rulers. Lasting for over thirty pages this all too short description of the Pharaohs and their lives will leave you wanting more. In this chapter is where I feel the book lacks the most, there is not enough description on many of the Pharaohs to make them even useful except to be historical markers in time. Most Pharaohs receive only a paragraph or so revealing their great deeds and their lives. Then it's on to the next one. In order to do this chapter properly would require two 128-page books, one describing the dynasties, and for that I have to agree with the editor's in their careful choice of the length of this chapter. Fortunately, there is a good bibliography in the back that will allow true Egyptofiles to go out and find more information on this fascinating culture.
Egyptian magic was another section of this book that fascinated me. While some of the writing for the spells and such got a bit dry, the explanation behind various ideas of Egyptian mysticism were brief but done well. Many of these spells are specific to an Egyptian campaign but could easily be added to any existing wizards spellbook with a bit of tweaking.
The rest of the books gives character templates, adventure seeds, game stats for creatures, and campaign ideas. The bestiary is well populated enough to give any good GM plenty of ideas for encounters, while the templates and game stats will help the players get up and going in the world of Ancient Egypt in no time at all.
One last detractor from the book was the afterthought chapter for Ancient Egyptian religion. Once again we run into the problem of subject matter that is far too large for a book this small. The religion chapter is brief and gives the bare outline of the Egyptian religion and some of it's offshoots. This chapter got shortchanged and could have been given a few more pages.
Overall, even for all my noise about the shortness of the book, GURPS Egypt is a great buy. If you are thinking of using Egyptian influenced NPC's/cities/worlds, this book would be a great help. Steve Jackson Games continues to put out quality products like GURPS Egypt, most of which are useful to almost any gamemaster, and GURPS Egypt is another of those books.
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)