Sunday, November 22, 2015
Frog God Games is Kickstarting a book called the Blight, by Richard Pett. It's the extension of adventures he wrote a long time ago for Dungeon Magazine, but as a result of doing so he lost the intellectual property for the "Stye," which was the original setting of his adventures. The Blight is a reconfiguration of that setting, into a full city description.
It's an evil city, which everyone loves, but at the outset I had some reservations about it from the standpoint of traditional gaming. It seemed awfully Victorian, and I was very worried about the risk of seeming like a Steampunk mashup with D&D, which isn't my thing. While I know that Richard is an excellent writer (his adventure in Heart of the Razor was my favorite of a strong group), the overall concept of the city appeared to me as something that might not work well.
On further reading, and asking one key question, I think the book is good. First, the key question that I asked was, "Can my guys walk around in plate mail?" Overall, in terms of flavor, this seems to me to be a touchstone question for whether a city "fits" with the need for a beer and pretzels option in traditional gaming. An acceptable answer is still, "Yes, but the city guard will arrest you," since that could be true in any number of medieval cities. A problematic answer would be, "That's not the city's technological level," or "plate mail is not used."
The answer to the question was actually, "Sure, it's a good way to handle the monsters."
My reading of the introductory material, which is still unconverted from Pathfinder format, is:
(a) No firearms
(b) Dimensional travel is highly involved in the city's flavor
(c) There is indeed a very Victorian feel to the place, but it's an extrapolation of what would happen in a city that used necromantically-powered industry for centuries to push itself into a Victorian age without steam or firearms. It's London powered by necromancy and golems.
(d) The result is something akin to Michael Moorcock's Granbretan in the Hawkmoon books, where there's a sinister use of technology without losing the fantasy element. This isn't to say that the result is similar to Granbretan, it's quite different indeed, but it's that sort of mixture. If Granbretan mashed together Nazi Germany and England with magic-baroque technology, the Blight also takes a magic-baroque technology (necromancy/golems) and mashes it into Victorian England with elements of creeping dimensional and planar features.
My next post will probably focus on the Granbretan analogy, because there's another Moorcock analogy here too: The War Hound and the World's Pain. Essentially Pett thinks like Moorcock, and has produced here something that Moorcock might have developed but didn't.