Friday 22 June 2018

I hate doing reviews of role playing products

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I intend to never do it again , other than "I like this thing" referencing / advertising for people

I'm reviewing a bunch of Zedeck Siew's stuff right now.

Specifically these zines that aren't really for sale , but if you hit him up on g+ you might be able to get them.

The first 2 are teasers from an upcoming Thousand Thousand Islands project.

Mr-Kr-Gr is the "death rolled kingdom". It's crocodile themed if
 Kraching  (the other one) can be described as cat themed.

Kraching has vignettes. Some are descriptions of people, some of locations, some groups. Also interspersed with myths of the founder "Auw" .

The vignettes are not framed or obviously organized. It is more like reading a collection of short storys and essays (click the link on his name to do that).

The first is The God Auw. It is a description of a statue . The next entry is Auw The Woodworker.
It is a origin story of Auw.

Then it's a description of the town, then a trader, then a book keeper.

It's an arrangement extremely counter to how a role playing book should work.
I don't know if the future book will be like this or not.

However a couple of things make this work way better than it should.

  Zedeck's writing ; it's very sparse , and delightfully so.

Here's the entirety of the writing about Anurra (baring a 4 lines about her house and husband, Allu)

Calloused hands, muscled arms. Quick to laugh. But her smile disappears if she thinks you are not looking.
"In the hills , when she was young." All tells you. "She was caught by a witch. The witch gave her a choice: hands that make art, or a womb that bears children. Anurra chose her hands."

  Allu asks you find the witch , force it to return his wife's fertility.  Anurra will hate him for this.

There is depths here, about the couple, how the world works, etc. 
Don't think for a second is white wolf pages and pages of fiction that drip feeds you actual material. This is one of the most concentrated, poetic , yet usable piece of role playing writing I have ever read.

So that's a thing.

The other thing happening here is memory and time and a rebuking of exact borders.

This zine starts with a description of the statue of the god Auw. It's described as the god.

 The first story is of the god as when he was just carver.

The description of the town is about the cats.

A later line about the cats "They are either primeval nature spirits , or wood carvings come alive. Or maybe just cats. Or maybe all three."

Auw in their stories changes personality, gender, human /cat.

Things are always always another thing too.  A town is the first 2 people you meet.  A god is the stories told about them and the statue you just past.

You are reading about everything when you are reading about one thing.
So the usual problem of "not being able to find what you wanted" is obscured here. Everything is a little bit everything else too.

There is tables and things in tables too. They are a more familiar format but excellent too.

Mr -Kr -Gr
is crocodiles. More past here than shifting stories. More formal
Also excellent.

The illustrations are by Mun Kao

They are exact , detail rich, and work wonderfully with the text.

Really quick reviews for some pdfs that their creators gave me when I mentioned I might review things ages ago. I have managed to lose both pdfs and didn't feel I could really do a good review anyway, as I wasn't going to use them and that should be the focus of any review (shout out Bryce Lynch running the most useful  rpg blog in existence )

I've felt honour bound ever since to actually review them though.
Please no-one ever send me anything to review again though 

Black Sun Crawl:
(James Macgeorge )
An efficient setting with a concentrated tone and effect , using public domain art and giving a very metal grim dark souls feel. If anyone has a dream about releasing a project of their own this is good guide for how to make something distinct without getting overwhelmed with all the material "you have to include as well"

Castle Gargantua:
(Kabuki Kasier)
A table generated mega dungeon with a greco-roman theme.  Using the mechanics as written to generate the castle seem not ideal to me, and it seems bad for the players to try and navigate it, as the random generation means you can't figure out potential room contents the same way you could a conventional building.

However there's enough here that you could easily find at least one table for your own use.
Some of the monsters have some good imagery and there's a enthusiasm to the whole thing too.
There's one game effect  here , while thematic appropriate for the god Pan,  that could piss a lot of players off, however its nothing a g.m couldn't use their own judgement to handle.