We’re going through the issue article by article...
⚠ ☠ ⚠ !!! Spoilers ahead !!! ⚠ ☠ ⚠
Post-Apocalyptic Crafting: These are rules for crafting mundane items. If your game is about scarcity, this seems like a cool idea. The table says how many slots each item gets, and how many points you need to get for a particular item quality. Given that the rules allow you to make a craft roll when exploring rooms, vehicles, or looting, the “crafting” includes collecting enough raw material, being lucky, finding the missing component, etc. It looks like a fun little minigame to play on the side.
Riverwalk: A long linear sequence of weird encounters along an underground river. Maybe useful if you have a fabulous underground location that can be reached by following the river and you want to give your players a feeling of how far away from the surface it is and how weird things are turning out to be down here. Just reading through it, it seems to lack life, opposition, or an immediate goal for players. You will need to fill in the details. Perhaps in play this will resolve itself?
Two Tribes: A four page science fiction scenario about an isolated solar system divided into three factions with various hideouts each. Each planet gets a one paragraph write-up and each faction gets a longer write-up. There is a description and minimal stats for a corpulent imperator, his stressed assistant, a bitter revolutionary, a driven guerilla, and stats for the respective minions of the three factions. What I really like is the end of the scenario describing what the author’s players did. That puts things in perspective.
The Temple of Thek: Nearly five pages on a non-canon Tékumel temple. I find this article to be of little immediate use at my gaming table. I don’t run a Tékumel campaign, and there is no situation, there are no relations, no people to adapt for my own game. It’s all one hundred percent Tékumel background material. This is excellent if you haven’t read any Tékumel material and want to get a feel for it, or if you need a destination full of cultural differences for your players to explore after they suffer a magical mishap of some sort that gates them here.
Random’s Assortments: A selection of traps from the interesting to the insane. I liked the green slime powder. Add water and you get green slime! I very much dislike the cursed chest where upon opening all those who helped in the endeavor get to roll a d6 and a result of 1 indicates that your head explodes. Uhm, what? The other traps fall somewhere in between, if slightly on the gonzo side.
Caverns of the Beast Mistress: An eleven page tribute dungeon level inspired by the Caverns of Thracia and Night of the Walking Wet. It’s full of minotaurs, and there’s an alien psychic worm-slime pilot at the end. What’s not to like?
Interview with Paul Jaquays: This Fight On! issue is dedicated to the author of the Caverns of Thracia. I enjoyed this five page interview. Sure, these days you can read interviews and forum threads dedicated to the little stars of our hobby, but I had never read anything by Paul Jaquays before.
The Balsphemous Shrine of the Tentacled God: This is level 12 for the ongoing joint effort at building The Darkness Beneath. I love the Imp Machine, Space Ogres, Transporter Room including a handwritten sign by M. Scott, the last living Electroweak Elemental (immune to electromagnetic and weak force, double damage from gravitic and strong force attacks)… Did you guess who the author is? None other than Jeff Rients. And I have just read the first half of it!
Merlyn’s Mystical Mirror: Two well-written reviews, the first about Dragons at Dawn, a reconstruction of the game played by Dave Arneson. As an example, only three spells out of forty-seven deal damage. One of them causes a slow decay, and the other two are fireball and lightning bolt, respectively. The reviewer points these things out, provides ample reflection and discusses his own bias. I felt informed. The other game reviewed is Backswords & Bucklers, an Elizabethan England variant of Swords & Wizardry: Whitebox. The author discusses his dislike for d6 weapon damage, which is part of the whitebox tradition, and laments the lack of background material. As written, however, these omissions seem to be appropriate to me (just as OD&D itself provides practically no background material). That left me a bit confused.
The End of the World, Considered as Prelude: Four pages of fiction. I usually don’t read this sort of fiction because I have so many unread books I could be reading instead. In addition to that I have very little to compare this with.
Witches of ~N’Kai: A single page of role-playing game systems written as a tribute to Carcosa and Searches of the Unknown, which in turn spawned another dozen or more variants. That’s the Microlite20 spirit, right there!
Grognard’s Grimoire: Eleven illusionist spells. Many of them are variations of such spells as later edition Alter Self or Disguise Self, others allows targets to disguise targets as somebody else, disguise targets as a corpse, make targets look like shadows (a weaker form of invisibility). My favorite is the Phantasmagorical Blade that always hits unless the target saves, with Hallucinatory Army a close second. The army is very large, but only lasts until touched by an intelligent creature. I’m imagining interesting results.
Artifacts, Adjuncts, & Oddments: Rules for the creation of six types of homunculons, and three types of elegant high-tech weapons suitable for a “mutated” age. I liked them all.
I noted several typos on a first reading, but having done some editing for free I know how boring it is and cannot get my self to complain about it. Sure, it’d be nice to fix them all, but I’m not volunteering!