There is a self-centered aspect to this review: I co-wrote the cover article for the issue, with an article that fills 9 of the 24 pages of the issue. But I wanted a chance to discuss that article a little bit, and discuss the good stuff that is in this issue.
Published by Gothridge Manor Games
$5 in print to the US, $2.50 PDF
Grappling Old School (by Douglas Cole & myself)
Doug and I have been collaborating on a number of small projects for GURPS and for S&W, as well. Naturally since we both play S&W, and Doug and I both like writing rules, and Doug loves grappling rules, we ended up writing an article about it. So what is this article?
It's a grappling system that uses only existing stats already statted up in the vast majority of D&D-compatible systems - HP, damage, AC. The basic idea is to treat grappling as an attack vs. normal AC, roll a "damage" roll that determines your amount of control of the victim, and compare that to HP to see how badly it affects them. Equal or exceed their HP and they're basically controlled. It's a pretty simple adaptation of the concept that Doug wrote up in GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling. At the same time it's not a copy, nor does it do the details as finely as TG will let you. The point is to just have a grappling system that isn't a hidden risk like in RAW S&W or a crazed subsystem like in AD&D. The other point was to make it work across all sorts of systems, specifically including S&W, Basic Fantasy Role-Playing, and Labyrinth Lord.
Overall, I'm very pleased with how it came out. I personally seen Doug's fingerprints all over it, and my role as mostly cutting things down to the minimum rule necessary to do the job right the great majority of the time. Still, it's one of those things we couldn't have done separately as well as we did it together.
Plus the art is fantastic.
Strange Stars Data File: Ibglibdishpan (by Trey Causey)
This is a race for Strange Stars. Short version, they're the hyper-smart weak unfriendly cone-headed guys. They have enough stats to run them, a cool special power (with a cool side-effect that happens on a variety of situations), and nice art. There is enough detail to lift these for any other Sci Fi system to adapt them.
If I used these guys, the name would be the first thing to go - Ib Glib Dishpan? Yeah, my players make fun of the better names I come up with, I can't just hand them "dishpan" straight-up. But otherwise, they seem interesting and a great add for a space operatic setting.
Hirelings (by Tim Shorts)
I love hirelings. So much so the first thing I did when I started my DF game rolling was write some up, and then turn them into a book with a lot of help from the GURPS Line Editor.
Tim loves them, too, and provides a lot in a short article:
- a list of hirelings and their costs.
- a settlement-sized list of hireling availability.
- a table of special traits, all good, that enhance the hirelings.
- six fully statted and interesting hirelings.
It also opens up with a great biblical quote I wish I'd used for the Loyalty section of DF15. It's an excellent article.
If there was one thing I'd add is that if you rolled a 1 on the table of special traits, you'd roll on a subtable of not-so-great traits. Or just roll on useless hirelings.
Torchbearer (by Tim Shorts)
I also love torchbearers, and I'm not the only one to think they need a writeup, or even a power-up. This article gives rules for trained vs. untrained torchbearers, a bunch of special torches (some of which I'm listing for my own GURPS DF game), and some special skills for experienced torchbearers. You won't be so tempted treat these guys as simple light sources and throwaway trap detectors when they can aid you in battle, detect flammability of things they see, and otherwise keep you alive longer when they're with you.
Overall, this is a pretty meaty issue. I'll get a lot of use out of Tim's articles, I'll keep Trey's in mind when I need weird smart guys, and you know I'll keep quietly lobbying to use the article I co-wrote when I play Swords & Wizardry.
For more reviews, please see my Reviews page.