Saturday, May 16, 2009

Review: Green Devil Face #1 & #2

Green Devil Face is a fanzine, and a community project. "It is intended to provide traditional fantasy RPG referees with game material that can be inserted as-is into their games" is the way editor James Raggi presents it as. I have in my hand the first two issues and here are my impressions:

GDF #1 is a small booklet, A5, 28 pages. The only illustrations are the cover illustations, a medieval one with a knight on the front and a anatomical picture of a posing skeleton on the back. There's one map, which looks like it's done on a computer and it's clear and usable. The grid is a bit too dim, but that might get better now that James have a new printer.

It starts with a history of the module, a short paragraph of background story, and a short note of usage. Then we're treated to a random encounter table before the numbered entries on the map are described in order. Clear, classic and well done. All in all the visual impression is nice and proves how good looking something like a basic fanzine can be these days.

So, time to dive in and read! The first sentence was puzzling for maybe five seconds, and then I started to giggle. I was reading GDF in bed and my wife had already fallen asleep so now I had to supress some of my giggling because soon I felt not only like chuckling, but for some serious guffaws. Everyone get's to be in this one! Well known game designers, bloggers and web forum inhabitants are satired and made fun of. Not one to take himself to seriously, the author himself can be found if you look for him. It's not to hard to find things to make fun of in this hobby, and especially in the old school community there are enough odd balls and crazy people for a work like this. Nothing is mean or downright cruel, but the humor is spot on when it light upon some of our silliness. Considering some outburst of moralism and downright rude attitudes I've seen, I think this is a well done way of handling controversy! We're gamers, so instead of writing endless tirades and arguments we should make our point by writing something that can be played! Top marks to James Raggi for that!

The adventure itself is a classic romp with some odd NPC's that can be interacted with in a limited fashion, weird substances to imbibe and treasure to be found. I do like the fact that almost nothing is what it seems, and investigation is both needed, fun and sometimes fatal! This might be a joke, but it is a very playable joke.

Anyone in the old school community online will get a couple of good laughs out of this one, and as if that wasn't enough you get a very devious dungeon to boot! It's cheap, it's fun and it used to be called Fantasy Fucking Vientnam so what is there not to love?!

GDF #2 is also a small green booklet, A5, 24 pages. It have the same kind of old illustrations, but this time only the back cover is from mideval times, since the front is only a little more than 100 years old.

This issue contains 12 different traps and mysteries. A lot of them are one page, and some more involved are 2-4 pages, with examples of usage and longer description of setup and effect. The quality is overall high, and even if some are more clever than others, they are all intriguing.

The idea of having the trap out in the open, and let the delvers make of it what they will is good. There are item traps, water and darkness. Interestingly enough, I think the simpler traps are probably the best ones. Another thing worth noting is that many traps have ideas for tweaking, so the 24 pages are filled more goodness than first apparent! Many traps are very brutal and will take some careful delving skill to handle. I'd love to encounter stuff like this as a player!

All in all I'd recommend GDF#2 to anyone with a interest in puzzles and traps. James have collected some really good contributions and I really hope he gets some more submissions for further issues. Writeup those traps you have designed and send them off! Published glory await you all.

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