I’ve had a couple of Kickstarter campaign deliveries in the last couple of weeks. First, the Zine Quest entry by Lauren McManamon and Jesse Ross (Hedgemage Press), Girl Underground, a game Powered by the Apocalypse:
Contents: The game is really interesting and I definitely want to run or play this soon. I particularly like that although the Girl playbook is narratively central to the game, the Companion playbooks all feel interesting and exciting to play, not mere sidekicks. Other favourite feature: GM support for adventure-building includes an array of fantastical locations with prompts, NPCs, plot hooks, and guidance for scene-setting.
Even though I already have two games booked at Big Bad Con, I’m now considering running this at Games on Demand in October, or maybe running it online for friends this summer.
Format: It makes a better ebook than print zine because the text ends up so small I can barely read it even in good light. That said, the layout is elegant and the art lovely.
Contents: The book is massive, with over 450 pages, and excellent. The Pendragon v5.2 rules are carefully adjusted to reflect the Frankish empire, and the rich setting section is well written. It’s exciting for me to read a game based on these tales, which were as present or more in my youth’s reading lists as Arthurian legends. Edmund is planning to run a campaign starting very soon.
Format: The text is small but not as tiny as Girl Underground‘s. The book binding, end pages, gilt page edges, bookmark ribbons, covers, and section headings are beautiful. The pleasing layout is similar to that of Pendragon, but in addition the red headings (rather than blue) make it easier to navigate quickly.
The illustrations… Well, the first backers-only PDF version had raised a hue and cry with the poor quality of some illustrations. In response, Nocturnal Media and partners commissioned new art to replace the most egregious pieces. The art is now technically competent but often flavourless. Unlike the famous pieces from the public domain, most notably those by Gustave Doré, few of the commissioned illustrations evoke the Carolingian setting and not just some generic European medieval fantasy.
And this gem still made it as the chapterhead illustration for Chapter 17: Foreign Cultures. RLY? I can’t decide which this least evokes at first glance, Charlemagne’s paladins or foreign cultures. Except the cis het white dudebro culture, which is foreign to me.
Still, the book is overall a good purchase and I think we’ll have good gaming with it.