Monday, July 11, 2011

The Majestic Wilderlands

The Majestic Wilderlands by Robert S. Conley is a supplement compatible with Swords & Wizardry. Swords & Wizardry is a set of rules based on the original Dungeons & Dragons (or as they say on the products for copyright reasons: "the original 1974 roleplaying game").

I'm going to mix things up a bit from my usual review format and describe the good bits first. There's a lot in this book. It's digest size and only 140 pages, but packs a lot into that format. Well over a dozen new character classes, including several types of rogues. Over a dozen races, including the ones from basic S&W, but with changes for the setting. Several other crunchy bits including a basic skill system, NPC classes, optional combat rules, and magic rituals. This all takes up a little less than two thirds of the book, and includes a lot of background detail concerning the setting, but not in a way that interferes with referencing the crunch.

The rest of the book is pure background for the setting of the Majestic Wilderlands. This setting is a take on the setting developed around the City State of the Invincible Overlord created by the Judges Guild over 30 years ago. There's a general geographical overview of the world as well as descriptions of the major cultures and religions. There's nothing terribly innovative about the world, but it's not meant to be. It's meant to provide a standard fantasy RPG setting, and does a pretty good job of doing just that with a rather interesting mix of Tolkien and Howard.

Now for the bad. The only major complaint I had with the crunch is that the skill system seems a bit harsh. For example, per the rules, the average character using Athletics is going to fail to clear a 2' obstacle 75% of the time. An unencumbered first level fighter with a strength bonus is still going to fail over half his tries to clear that same 2' obstacle. it's easy enough to adjust this by adjusting the base target number, but I felt it was worth mentioning.

A bigger issue for me is that the book is a case study for not relying on a spell-checker to do your editing. There are countless instances of poorly constructed sentences and incorrect words throughout the text. It doesn't make the book unreadable, and it's understandable from what is essentially a one man show, but it's unfortunate.

It should have only taken a single read through to fix a lot of this, and there are three people credited as editors on the book, so I have to wonder if maybe the author accidentally used the wrong draft when creating the PDF. The product is purely PDF and print on demand, so I would hope that the author will some day make a corrected edition available.

Even with these issues, I'd highly recommend it to anyone running a Swords & Wizardry game as it should provide a great deal of solid inspiration for tweaking the rules to fit your campaign.


Rob Conley said...

Thanks for the review, and the editing process was throughly my fault not of the editors. Basically I thought sections were edited but I forgot to send them out. So when I merged everything back in... well it what we got not. I didn't repeat this mistake with Blackmarsh

For the ability section I was building off of Matt Finch's Old School Primer and other folks. That the rolls you make are for resolving exceptional circumstances. I probably could have made this clearer. I

So a roll for Athletics is called for when the person in the middle of combat and they want to get over a 2' high obstacle with no problem. It about as high as the thigh for most people. What sounds simple becomes problematic when people are trying to kill you. Or you are trying to get to another location right now.

Also in the spirit of the Old School Primer I don't get into details to the results of the rolls. Leaving that up to the referee.

For me I would rule the fighter get hung up on going over the obstacle and end his round there. His next turn he can continue on without a roll.

You write good review and glad for the opportunity to reply to it.

Fulminata said...

Thanks for addressing my criticisms.

In case it wasn't apparent from the review, I really enjoyed your book overall.

Thanks for writing it!

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