Role-playing reviews

Reviews related to role-playing games, with a focus on Gods & Monsters, and a bit of superhero gaming.

Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

The Dream of Poor Bazin

Jerry Stratton

What if the Three Musketeers were journalists in Washington, DC? What if journalists were swashbuckling, swaggering, hard-drinking warriors of truth? Find out in Jerry Stratton’s The Dream of Poor Bazin.

Fight On! old-school gaming zine

Jerry Stratton, September 20, 2009

There are three places I go when I’m looking for third-party resources for Gods & Monsters. I’ve mentioned one already: Dragonsfoot. I’ve mentioned a fourth if you count The Grognard’s Lawn’s Castle of the Mad Archmage. If you’re looking for new resources for Gods & Monsters, there’s a wagonload of stuff coming out from the Old School Revolution. The Grognard’s amazing Castle is only the tip of the iceberg.

I don’t know why I haven’t mentioned it before—maybe I was expecting it to die like similar projects in the past. But Fight On! is an amazing magazine focussed on D&D and similar old-school games. Most everything in it is usable for Gods & Monsters.

I bought the first two issues of Fight On! several months ago, and have just received my order of issues three through six from Lulu. It was like Christmas morning, and it just keeps getting better and better as I read through them.

Fight On #1 and #2

A Lulu shipment arrived just before heading out to Madison for Forge Midwest. It included issues 1 and 2 of Fight On!, “a fanzine for the old-school renaissance.” Contributors include Jeff Rients, Paul Czege, Geoffrey O. Dale, and Vincent Baker. It is reminiscent of The Strategic Review and the first “Best of The Dragon”. It’s a simple two-column word processor-style format on glossy paper. Black and white inside, issue 2 has a nice color cover. The front is a dragon summoning and the back is a rough hand-drawn map.

Each issue has adventures designed for early D&D; there’s the beginnings of a megadungeon in issue 2, “The Darkness Beneath”, and a lot of weirdness. For example, issue 1 has cleric spells. Here’s the “Tentacles of Demogorgon”:

A dread demon of the terrible abysses beyond lends the invoking priest the power of his tentacles, by transmuting the priest’s arms and legs into similar wormlike extremities.

Paul Czege describes a campaign seed in which wizards cast spells by tapping the power of Space Wizard corpses they carry on their backs. Vincent Baker has a “monster machine” for creating monsters, traps, and other dangers. There are rules for panicked mounts, Pickled Orc Eyeballs, and a random inn generator (first try: The Rich Wench). There’s an article by Greg Svenson recalling “The First Dungeon Adventure” under Dave Arneson.

It includes all aspects of old-school, even Tékumel. I used to love reading those cryptic Tékumel ads in the back of D&D products in the eighties. Never understood what was going on, and still don’t, but it’s great that they’re in here. Issue 2 has “The Red Gem of High Cartography”, a 17-page adventure by “Edsan”, “suitable for 2-6 3rd-5th level characters” in “the City of Jakálla on the first quarter of 2,354 A.S.” It looks interesting, but fairly scripted. Obviously, since I’ve never done Tékumel, I don’t know how it compares.

Fight On! went from 30 pages to 88 pages between issues 1 and 2. When I first put Gods & Monsters online in October of 2000 old-school gaming was scattered and mostly unorganized. It’ll be interesting to see how it develops over the next few years.

Portions of this article appeared in Alarums & Excursions 405 and 407.

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