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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Meanwhile...

Ryan Dancey published a lengthy 4-star review of WFRP2 over on GamingReport.com (you'll have to copy and paste to read the piece I'm afraid- the complete url screws with my layout and I haven't figured out a fix yet*) which has occasioned some controversy because he suggests that WFRP2 learned some lessons from d20. Given that Chris Pramas had done a whack of d20 work before taking on the revision of WFRP, it would be a bit surprising if he hadn't carried some lessons across in the process, don't you think?

Oh, and I got myself the WFRP Old World Bestiary yesterday. Behind the familiar glossy production values lurk all the horrors with which fans of WFB will be familiar. That, and a brilliantly conceived and well executed idea of how to present a monster manual. The book is split into 2 sections, one of which (the bit with the games mechanics in it) is GM's eyes only. The other bit is presented as a banned book from the old world, written by one Odric of Wurtbad on an epic 50-year trek to catalogue all the horrors of the Old World.

This section is further subdivided as:
  • Common View: the more or less ignorant commonplace opinions of all sorts of people.
  • The Scholar's Eye: more detailed knowledge from a surprising variety of informed sources.
  • Our Own Words: the opinions of the creatures themselves.
The overall impression is of a wealth of detail, with each kind of creature presented in easily digestable snippets that you can read in great chunks, or which you can dip into.

The various creatures appear in a variety of guises because of the 3 basic views, while all the different voices also give you actual characters who you could flesh out and use in play if you wished. There is something clever going on here it seems to me. I don't know how original it is, but it is certainly the first rpg monster book that has made me laugh out loud.

To give an example: Wurtbad (remember the redoubtable Odric?) is tucked into the SE corner of the map for 'Pretty Things', the scenario in the GM's pack. So: making the not untypical purchase for a new system- the core rules, a screen, and a monster book; an alert GM could actually make Odric and his book part of his storyline. I know that this example isn't about the care and feeding of monsters, but if the rest of the book is half as clever as that little touch, well then it will be very good indeed.

* 11/04/09. I did eventually learn how to code URL embeds; I'm still tidying up nearly 5 years later. ;)
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