Tuesday, August 13, 2019

50 Shades of Vorpal review

Note on 50 sHAdes of VORpal. When I put my five bucks in the ring for this one it seemed like some seventeen olds wild ideas about how a game should be and was filled with strange and wondrous drawings from what seemed like a seventeen-year-old's school notebook. The stretch goals are a total hoot as well. There is an interview with the author during the campaign at this defunct blog save via Wayback Machine here Necropants Interview Link, Although the delivered .pdf was very rough it was about what I expected (and deserved given my suggestion when it was running late of just slapping the notes on a scanner and sending them out). My wishful thinking self kept thinking that the designer was actually going to take another pass and fill in the blank pages, but got an update on July 20 officially declaring it "dun". Checking the comments page on Kickstarter it appears that $50 backers have been receiving three-ring binders with a print-out of the same pdf I got two years ago all this month. With an original delivery date of December 2015, it is less than four years late (better than many NASA projects I worked on). In my darker moods, I envisioned this Kickstarter ruining the life of some seventeen-year-old too naive to realize what they had signed on for, so I was glad to see that the author actually brought the Kickstarter to closure.

I decided to take a closer look and review it page by page, but this proved to mostly fruitless. I understand the theory of bad formatting as part of the joke, but the practicality is that it renders much of the book unreadable. I don't even know to format a .pdf so that it splits pictures (and text) in half between pages. The deliberate spelling error joke gets old after a while. The continuing running dialog between the author, artist, and editor is hilarious. Most of the book is class descriptions and pictures. The pictures are unpracticed but evocative. The class descriptions are uneven in quality and completeness, but the names spark the imagination. My favorite names include Lowlings and Quarter demi halflings. Fighting uses a d30 but there is not enough description to actually play. The weapons table has some potential including a coolness rating for each weapon. The Monster section is fairly short but does include "Breaker, game (like a tarrasque only tougher)" as well as both "unassuming" and "vorpal" bunnies. I was disappointed the 1d12 hydracorn was relegated to a footnote on the last page, and that the awesome illustration of the hydracorn from the Kickstarter updates was omitted. The location section follows next. My favorite location is the uber dark. As all "old school" gamebooks this one ends with a random assemblage of unfinished thoughts.

Did I get my five bucks worth? I was disappointed that he didn't take another pass at the text. With even a minimum effort the author could have matched the quality of the Arduin Grimoire or even the little brown books of Orginal Dungeons and Dragons. However, this perhaps was not the author's goal. For an old guy like me, something that reminds me of my high school friends is probably worth five bucks anyway.

Here are some other peoples thoughts on 50 Shades of Vorpal.

Tenker's Tavern Nonreview Link

and the Hydracorn

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