mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli
mordicai

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Libre des Ghouls. (80)

Midgard Bestiary, Volume One, by Josh Jarman.

The Ghoul Emperor,
bitterblack gladius raised;
falls. Hell is unleashed.

I will confess upfront; I have never played the AGE system. I hadn't even heard of it until I read about it in Kobold Quarterly. That being said, I'm really here for the flavor text, anyhow, aren't I? As I've mentioned before, I run my Oubliette campaign with the World of Darkness system, so even Pathfinder & Dungeons & Dragons are only of academic interest. AGE isn't so hard to understand; once you know the language of gaming systems, you gain the ability to grok them all, more or less. With that caveat out of the way, lets dig in! Right out of the gate, I have some major differences of opinion with Jeff Tidball's introduction-- gaming is about kicking in doors, killing monsters, & taking their stuff? Call me a New School post-modern deconstructionist if you want, but I'm clinging to my artistic pretentions of telling a story & portraying plausible characters. Not that hack-&-slash is all bad-- though it is awfully reprehensible-- but I don't consider it the heart of the roleplaying hobby. A definite organ, but not the heart. Still, this is a book about monsters, so lets get into it! Oh; actually, I've got another philosophical difference. A much more minor one. Josh Jarman discusses how the monsters are in their "base" form, & encourage Narrators to adapt them to other uses. All well & good! It just makes me appreciate Dungeons & Dragons 4e's new scheme of grouping a whole host of types of a critter in one entry, across different challenge rating. In fact, Midgard Bestiary could use some of that logic-- there are a plenty of creatures in here that end in "ghoul" that should probably be under "Ghoul, comma." Bonepowder Ghoul, page 8. Imperial Ghast, page 29. Iron Ghoul, page 30. Necrophagus Ghoul, page 39. These should all be one entry, all be next to each other. Of course, once you turn the page, I find what I most miss in Fourth edition Monster Manuals-- actual descriptive text. Tell me about how the Ala are weird living cancer that fell off an Ent! Great. The art is really great-- the sword of the Zobek Legionnaire, the four eyes of the Bemmean Wizard, the Carrion Beetle, which looks like it belongs in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: After the Bomb game, the Weaving Spider which is just like the print I have, all just very solid. Some monsters-- the Eel Hound, the Dogmole-- just seem cut from Avatar: The Last Airbender almost whole cloth. In a good way. There are monsters that just dangle, whole hooks. The Gilded Devil is a perfect addition to Hell's pantheon, halfway between Chain Devil & Succubus. The Derro Fetal Savant? A gross premie that Derro carry around in a cage? Ew, that is the best. Death Butterfly Swarm? If that doesn't exist in a Hawkmoon story, it should. Merrow? I like the idea that maybe the first proto-Troll society was aquatic, & the Merrow are the reverse-Atlantean remnents! As for the Harem Assassin-- I wish I'd read this earlier, as it would totally have fit into the previous campaign I ran. The campaign setting of Midgard is the one in which the Northlands & Zobek exist, & are a strong testament to the strength of the Open Design ideology. Consider me a fan.
Tags: age, books, dnd, haiku, jarman, kobold quarterly, rpgs
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