2010-11-04 Review of Fight On Magazine Issue 9 Part 1

I recently stumbled upon a review of Fight On! #10. I guess if we don’t write reviews, then we deserve what we get… I’m picking issue #9 instead of the very last issue #10. The last Fight On! magazine I have available in print. The current one is issue #10, but where as Lulu said that my order of The Wilderness Alphabet Fight On! #10 shipped on October 15, they haven’t arrived.

Note: I was published in Fight On! issues #4 to #10. I like Fight On! magazine for its self-made look that invites me to contribute. It looks like a fanzine for people like myself, by people like myself.

Also note: A different review for issue #10 was recently posted on the OD&D board by crusssdaddy.

⚠ ☠ ⚠ !!! Spoilers ahead !!! ⚠ ☠ ⚠

Anyway, the articles! Here’s a short review of the first half of the magazine:

Cover: Awesome, claustrophobic dungeon atmosphere!

Top of the Class: Feats for your old school fighters I don’t like, because I prefer my fighters to be simple to play. Even a simple weapon specialization will end up biting me, if I ever find a better weapon of a different make. A system to overmemorize spells and associated mishaps I don’t like because it complicates. I’m not sure this adds an interesting choice to mages. Does it ever make sense to memorize more than one extra spell? As for the advice on how to pimp your priest and the examples provided: I love it. The thief modifiers to the standard 1 in 6 or 2 in 6 rolls I’m divided on. I don’t like it because they complicate something that should be simple. I do like it because the table has some funny entries (”because I’m an elf” gives you a -1 penalty) and the thief customization is interesting.

Bird-Men of Hyperborea: I like the word “genonomous” but could not google it nor did I find it in my Webster dictionary. The geno prefix stands for race; the nomy root stands for system... Hm... Oh well. Anyway, servile, bickering, recalcitrant creatures that offer aerial transport, I like.

Knights & Knaves: I like the idea of NPC stats, because I have a hard time coming up with them myself. I think the description of the scenery and their demeanor is too long. Maybe a sentence per level is a good rule of thumb?

Spellslingers for Hire: I love these 10 NPCs. The descriptions are short and to the point. I’d love to use these in my campaign. The only thing not provided – and I have no short and succinct solution for this either – are spell-books. I often spend too much time assembling thematically appropriate spell-books.

Khosura: A twelve page city supplement! Amazing. It makes me want to play in Gabor Lux’s Formalhaut campaign. If I didn’t have a handful of excellent villages and cities to use as campaign bases, this would do really well. As it stands, I’m probably not going to use it for a long time to come. It just serves as an example of how other referees create their urban settings. What impressed me the most is that the first “room” description is for the Western Gate and it already comes with a cool adventure idea. Anyway, it’s very long and while it may be easy to drop into a setting I would think it is hard to drop into a campaign without making it the center point of the campaign for many levels. So yes, it’s awesome, but it’s scary, too.

Inter-Session Events: I like the idea of rolling on a random table for a significant event in between sessions if you’re in an episodic campaign. The only result I’d be wary of is “pauper” where the player looses all their possessions. How would you make this fun and interesting for the player? Maybe “wake up drunk and naked on the stairs of a temple” – now go find your equipment which you’ve pawned away to important NPC gamblers in town. I guess it might work, if the players know what they are getting into.

Purchasing Potions: Probabilities of finding a potion in a village, city, etc. Random table of effects when buying a potion... I dunno. If I allow my players to shop for magic items, I feel the game degenerates into out-of-character shopping, which is why I would never use it.

The Hobgoblin God’s Crown: A fourteen page dungeon! Wow, that’s long. A bit too long, maybe. I like the suitably interesting last rooms of the dungeon and the tricky situations the party finds itself in once it beats the opposition. Note that the image of a party fighting a beholder on the last page has nothing to do with the adventure.

In My World…: An excellent three page essay on how to gradually build your campaign setting, how to determine enough to make it real, and how to leave enough things open in order to adapt it to your players’ actions and interests. It’s a bit long-winded, but friendly and supportive. I wish I had read this a few years ago to show to those players who wished I had run a campaign in the Forgotten Realms. A feel-good essay.

Den of Villainy!: I was a judge in both One Page Dungeon Contests and nominated this one for Best Pirates. It doesn’t immediately suggest adventure. It’s more of a curious assembly of potentially dangerous people, weirdness, and some treasure. Finding and looting the treasure is going to take some investigating. I’d drop it in my current campaign if it featured any pirates.

Education of a Magic-User: This is a comic strip about a magic user wanting to bet on a race and a cleric foiling him. I’m not much of a role-playing comic person. I usually take way too long to figure them out.

GBH: I chuckled when I read these one-panel jokes.

The Singing Cave: Another One Page Dungeon Contest entry. This one is a simple straight-forward drop-in cave with some surprise harpies at the end. I’ve already placed this one on my campaign map.

The Contemptible Cube of Quazar: Yet another entry for the One Page Dungeon Contest getting published. I love them! Short and to the point. This one is a little dungeon on the faces of a cube. The idea is awesome. I’m not sure whether it’ll be as impressive in play because three of the faces each connect to a fourth face, and two faces remain unused. Since there are so few interconnections, there is less confusion for the mapper. I think I’d love more complications since I usually do the mapping if I’m a player, and I love interesting maps.

Central New Jersey After the “Big Whoops”: The fourth and last of the One Page Dungeon Contest entries. This one is a little wilderness hex map with keys, not a dungeon per se. There seems to be no obvious adventuring hook to the region. Maybe if you know the region then just exploring it and finding out what happened to the various New Jersey settlements is entertaining enough. It would also work well as a setting for some other Mutant Future adventure. It still needs an adventure.

Creepies & Crawlies: Three pages of monsters. All of them are interesting and involve more than just a simple thing to fight. They have a background one could research, they have variations, hints of allies, and adventure seeds built in. I like it.

Ten Dooms of the Icy Wastes: Five or six pages (if you include a full page illustration) with ten independent encounters for any of your favorite icy waste hexes in the Carcosa setting or similar. Yellow men, white mutants, jale witches, robots, space aliens, spawn of Shub-Niggurath, you’ll find it all. It makes me want to run a Carcosa campaign, right now.

The Yellow Forest: Five pages for some random encounter tables and descriptions of dinosaur-themed jungle encounters. I don’t know. I’m not too much into dinosaurs and related dangers (quicksand, moths, jaguars, etc). It looks a bit like an encyclopedia of stuff, a “dinosaur alphabet” kind of list. These have their place, I admit. Maybe I need a Lost Island themed campaign arc to appreciate it better.

Tables For Fables: A table for how much time passed as the party investigated the dungeon, ranging from the negative (leave before your enter and meet your past selves) to a year per level. Very gonzo. Maybe if you’re really into the Mythical Underworld interpretation of dungeon exploration. Don’t pull it off more than once, I’d say. A random table with 20 morale statements. Interesting idea, but I think I’m fine with the standard morale check and some improvisation.

Continued in part 2…

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