Friday, November 15, 2013

Recent Acquisitions

With my most recent attempt to run a session of the Demon Verge campaign derailed by a post-vacation cold, I find myself once more with little to discuss in terms of actual play.

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 The fact that Uresia was originally made for an "anime RPG" (whatever that means) means that there's a good deal of well-executed artwork in that style, but there are also more realistic (and more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.)


  1. Hooray for Uresia! I'm hoping to do a Dungeon World conversion, but I was also working on notes for a B/X conversion earlier this year. They're very incomplete jottings at this point, but if you're interested let me know and I'll send you a copy.

    I picked up ASE to run with Dungeon Crawl Classics. Perfect fit. That setting's a lot of fun. I was able to slot "Tower of the Stargazer" seamlessly into the sandbox with pretty much zero changes.

    I've never read Hite doing straight-up fantasy--he's a dyed-in-the-wool "real world" setting writer, usually. I might have to pick up Qelong and take a look at how well he translates to fantasy world-building.

    1. I'm not sure what system I'd use with Uresia. Probably something less lethal than B/X, though. At this point I'm just reading it for fun.

      If I end up running ASE I'll be using Labyrinth Lord, possibly with some extra stuff from Mutant Future and Dyson's Magical Theorems & Dark Pacts. Namely, the Mutant and "Unseen" (=ninja) classes from those respective books. DCC is not really my thing.

      I'm not done with Qelong yet, but so far it's definitely running with the whole LotFP "you're screwed for even playing this" approach. It's not bad, though.

    2. Funny you should mention B/X's lethality--the reason I started sketching out ideas was that I found a little mod put out by Sine Nomine. It's meant to allow single players or parties of 2-3 players some level of survivability in B/X, but I could see using it even for "regular" groups.

    3. I have that PDF; just hadn't gotten around to reading it yet. Sine Nomine does awesome work.