Friday, November 15, 2013
Instead, here are some brief thoughts on a few RPG-related products I've picked up recently. I hesitate to call them "reviews", since I haven't used (or, in many cases, even finished reading) the books in question. But here goes anyway:
Uresia: Grave of Heaven. S. John Ross' fantasy setting has been around for a while now, having had versions released for the now-defunct Big Eyes, Small Mouth system as well as d20. It's currently available via Lulu as a system-free setting resource, in a variety of formats. Since Lulu recently had a substantial sale, I opted for the "Stupid-Expensive HyperDeluxe Omnibus", and it's an extremely attractive book. The fact that Uresia was originally made for an "anime RPG" (whatever that means) means that there's a good deal of well-executed artwork in that style, but there are also more realistic (and more cartoonish!) drawings, a mix which I guess might bother people that place a lot of value on a "unified feel". The setting itself is breezy and whimsical, with an emphasis placed on fun and gameable locations. Ross has a playful sense of humor that only occasionally grates on me -- there are a lot of pirate jokes in here -- and a high percentage of interesting ideas per page. My increasing appreciation for goofy stuff in dungeon fantasy means that Uresia hits what is currently a sweet spot for me. I'm happy I bought it.
Anomalous Subsurface Environment. More weirdo dungeon stuff from Lulu, this time specifically for old-style D&D, with a post-apocalyptic take on fantasy that reminds me of Thundarr the Barbarian and Korgoth of Barbaria. I've been re-warming to the idea of megadungeons lately, and ASE certainly qualifies as one of those. I haven't read much of the dungeon itself yet, but I'm very impressed with Patrick Wetmore's wacky wizard-blasted sci-fantasy setting and the new D&D-compatible classes -- including robots and scientists -- that he's introduced to reflect it.
Qelong. I haven't read this yet. Despite my respect for Lamentations of the Flame Princess' dedication to publishing good-looking, OSR-friendly gaming material, I've never been a big fan of horror, and so I often find that their products aren't my cup of tea. However, Qelong is written by Kenneth Hite, an author I've heard good things about (but have never personally read), and the idea of a Southeast Asian-inspired fantasy sandbox is intriguing. It also comes highly recommended by people whose opinion I value. On the other hand, the back cover blurb references two movies I wasn't a huge fan of, so... we shall see, I suppose.
(Note: I finished reading Qelong since I wrote this post. It's quite well-written and full of interesting ideas, but ultimately, it's a quintessential Lamentations scenario, with lots of nightmarish magic and bodily horror. It's a great book if that's your thing, but it's not really mine. To me, the old WarGames saw of "the only winning move is not to play" seems to apply to a lot of the Lamentations adventures.)