Friday, February 7, 2020

That RPG Folder Over the Rainbow

Yet another post in this series, as I sort out my RPG folders, proper like.

Exodus System by Jacob D.C. Ross from Thunderegg Productions is a genre-neutral universal RPG loosely based on a D&D framework (6 abilities, class, level). The system also borrows from Savage Worlds (the abilities are rated by dice steps) and Cypher System (I'm not familiar enough with this to recognize the elements). I also noticed The Black Hack showing up via usage dice.

At a glance, I'm not into this at all. I typically don't enjoy universal RPG systems because it feels like when you try to please everyone you please no one. A lot of people disagree, which is evidenced by Savage Worlds' popularity. When I popped this open and just browsed it, I was turned off by a few things. One is that it's a generic system. Not my jam, but there's nothing at all wrong with that. This is just a preference.

Second thing is the layout. No one is credited with the work, which I think is a bad thing. Always credit your creators. Maybe Ross wrote the game and laid it out? Anyway, there's this HUGE border work that eats up about 40% of each page. That's kind of a lot. It includes chapter headings in big font, which is nice. But the main text is much smaller and confined to a rather small area of the page.

Third thing is the art and how it works with the layout. The art isn't bad, and some of it is really good. The cover isn't bad and there's a killer hawk man on page 5. The credits don't say which artist did which pic, not even the cover, so I don't know who to credit there. Some of the art just feels generic as hell*. And that's probably on purpose since this is a generic game. Some of the images are presented rather small on the page but they seem like they would work well if they were larger. I'm being super picky here, I know.

I haven't read the game. Just browsing how it works, there's some interesting ideas here. You "build your own class" by selecting a party role, combat role, and two flavors. So for example you may create a Face who is a Controller and also a Noble with Energy powers. This is kinda cool, but the language and arrangement is very D&D 4e and maybe World of Warcraft. It's the sort of vanilla treatment of high fantasy at the gaming table. I get it, it's fairly elegant, but it leaves me cold, personally.

This looks like a fairly complete little game and I bet you money it runs smoothly. So definitely check it out, even though I just can't get into it.

*I hate being critical of artists. These creators are good. This is a small, niche game in a small, niche market and they deserve respect and support. So please don't take my criticisms as me picking on them in any way. There isn't a single piece of art in this book that suggests a bad artist. It's just that not a lot of it jumped out at me, and some of that might come down to context. The huge border on each page is extremely sci-fi in an Alternity fashion, but a lot of the art is vanilla high fantasy and sometimes it's a little jarring seeing that juxtaposition. And this is coming from a guy who loves pre-80s fantasy that mixes lasers and unicorns without any concern for genre boundaries.

House of Dogs is a journal of RPG theory and practice. Which is lofty speak for "RPG zine about RPGs". Oddly, the first thing I noticed about this was how its table of contents looks like AD&D. The font is something like Futura and it has the gray bars like a DMG table. Nice touch.

The articles are cool. You got articles discussing Tomb of Horrors, Gardens of Ynn, Fuck For Satan, and more. I really loved David Shugars' discussion of Gardens of Ynn and its wonderful mechanic for travel.

Good read with some interesting art by Odysseus Jones and Evey Lockhart.

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