Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Swords and Wizardry Review Part II: the OCD stuff.

This is a continuing review of the PDF edition for the Complete Swords and Wizardry, first edition.

Part II: The graphics and layout which for some reason always get reviewed despite RPG’s being a frikkin toy, so here you go.

The art is fine, the cover makes it to impressive, and if I have any criticism, it may be that it almosts oversets the bar for the rules.  But, no, at the last minute I look inside, and find that the layoout and graphics are just fine for the content and style of the rules.  The cover is a nice bonus, not a harbanger of selloutitude and graphicbarfing.  . I can live without art or fancy graphics just fine (remember, I’m an old school Traveller player which had....none. ) but some is always nice (sorry Marc) . The S&WC edition has a variety of nice art, various styles, and none of it overwhelms the text; all seems in keeping with the “rich experience, simple structure” of S&W in general. Granted, that is a subjective description of a subjective subject, but its my blog, buddy..

The graphic presentation is fine and easily readable. Two columns with embedded headers works just dandy, and they don't seem to have fallen into the “piece of art on every page regardless of content” trap. There are occasional empty spaces on the pages where (for instance)a table doesn’t fit, and gets bumped to the next page rather than being squished in, or being plastered with some random art fragment (I’m looking at you, Stevie..;) )and that’s fine.

Tables are clean, large full width (ie not column limited) and seem presented in close proximity to the rules. There are commentary boxes, which when not overdone (and these are not) are one of the better developments in gaming rules production, in my opinion. Sometimes, a brief statement of why a rule is as it is can avoid me spending obsessive amounts of time on thinking around it, and often answers common questions (which are usually criticisms on the internet, right ?) up front. Options are laid out separately from the “core” rules, which is fine, but still seems odd to me coming from the heart of the “all rules are guidelines” school of thought (the correct one, dammit). But whatever. Its nice that many of thee address issues and criticisms that the fan community have raised – the reasonable one, at least. For instance, the multi-saving throw school is thrown a nice juicy bone with the inclusion of an alternate saving throw table presented for “comparison”, and adds notes throughout about integrating the change if desired…nice, that. It seems quite well edited for typos and etc; but, I’m a crap editor myself, so I don't let it bother me in others; nonetheless, no complaints.

Font is fine (serif is good for fantasy, in my opinion), and I could not care less about kerning and similar issues in others work, and a PDF can’t speak to the binding or the paper, both of which have been commented on in reviews of other rule sets in ways that suggest that paper weight is an important buying point, so there you go, if it matters.

Next up: some actual text, and content please ?  Sure. 

1 comment:

Akrasia said...

My main complaint concerning the art is that the SWC book does not use the original Pete Mullen cover (or, alternatively, does not feature a new cover from Mullen).

I think that Rick Sardinha is a fine artist, but IMO Mullen's quirky and evocative style reflects far better the spirit of Swords & Wizardry.

This is a minor quibble, of course.