Reviews

Appendix N review: The King of Elfland's Daughter

This is the 78th anniversary of Gary Gygax's birth. He brought the game Dungeons & Dragons to existence and I'm so thankful for that as it's an amazing game. He passed away a little over 8 years ago, yet another reminder that time marches on for all of us. In Gygax's famous Appendix N, written for the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide, one of the books listed is The King of Elfland's Daughter, which has to do with time.

 In Elfland, time doesn't exist. The shadows never grow longer, day never turns to night, and people never age. Since it doesn't exist, the inhabitants of Elfland are fascinated with our world, where time exists and people are sometimes frivolous and sometimes serious, since time presses upon them.

 It's told as a prolonged fairy tale and really highlights that the timeless elves are so very alien to us caught in time (and we to them). I highly recommend reading the book and discovering it for yourself.

 Today, we remember that time marches on, shadows change, day turns to night and night to day, and people live and die. But we also remember that some things are timeless, like a wonderful little game that Gary Gygax shared with us.

Appendix N review: Lin Carter's World's End series

I just finished reading Lin Carter's World's End series (Warrior of World's End, The Enchantress of World's End, The Immortal of World's End, The Barbarian of World's End, and The Pirate of World's End). It's also known as his Gondwane series as that's the name of the last continent on Earth in the year 700 million AD, when the stories are set.

The series is quite imaginative and seems to be a great influence on Gamma World. There are Hoppers, which are like a cross of goblins and rabbits, mobile plants, mobile vegetables, mobile cities, mobile castles, mobile mountain ranges, and mobile islands! There are Death Dwarfs, green-skinned dwarves that eat poison, gyraphonts, lobster-ghouls that flit between dimensions, and strange little men of the hills, which are a mineral lifeform - sort of an earth elemental. There are also tigermen, red amazons, Ximchak barbarians, great magicians who create mythological beings like sphinxes, and the talking heads of Soorm. There is a flying construct in the shape of a bird named Bazonga, there is an enchanted forest which causes all who stay in it to fall asleep, and the Omega Triskelion, which is an entry to other worlds.

While these are not great novels, they are great RPG sourcebooks. In fact, each book has a map of the area and an appendix which gives more detail. In the first 2 books, the appendix is a glossary of names and terms. In the last 3, the appendix is a glossary of places. Also, do not overlook the many footnotes in the books, which are mostly humorous and give additional information.

There are a couple of reviews for Warrior of World's End here and here and Grognardia mentioned Giant of World's End, which was written before this series and is set chronologically after the series. I have not yet read Giant but am looking forward to it.

Basic Fantasy review

Basic Fantasy just turned 10 years old a few days ago. It's an amazing RPG that emulates classic B/X D&D but not strictly. For example, it uses ascending AC, which is really easy to convert from D&D modules: just subtract the D&D AC from 20 and that's the new Basic Fantasy AC. Also, it divides race from class so now you can be a dwarf thief or a halfling fighter if you like. There are a few other differences but pretty much everything else is classic B/X D&D and I love the simplicity. I love the flexibility and the race divided from class adds to the flexibility.

I've run D&D modules and AD&D modules with Basic Fantasy just fine. There also a bunch of free modules and supplements on the Basic Fantasy site. Everything is free and open source and everyone is welcome to contribute. In fact, many of the existing retroclones are based on Basic Fantasy. Take a look at their OGL section and look for the copyrights. That's the beauty of Basic Fantasy - it's a perfect base for you to build the RPG that you want on.

Also, because it is all non-profit, you can get the books at cost through Amazon or Lulu or RPG Now. The rulebook is only a bit over $4 for a softcover. The downside to doing everything for free is that all art is donated and it doesn't have the incredible art you'd get if you buy the latest edition of D&D. The art is good though and some of it is amazing. Please let me know what you think of Basic Fantasy!