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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review - The Manor #1 (repost)


NOTE: Reposting this old review because I will finally be sitting down and reviewing the other issues of The Manor (I'm only a few years delayed, but I've been busy)


The Manor Issue #1
(24 page digest-sized 'zine

Cover Art: Jason Sholtis
Interior Art: Jonathan Bingham

Contents:
Introduction: By Tim Shorts
The Salt Pit: By Tim Shorts
There's Something Shiny in the Troglodyte Dung Heap 1d12: By Jason Sholtis
Rural Pennsylvania: Ghoul House: By Tim Shorts
Poetry Slam: By Rusty Battle Axe
20 Random Forest Encounters: By Tim Shorts
Street Vendor: Oren's Boots: By Tim Shorts

There are a few things that always please me in a 'zine. A good cover, a few good ideas and a little of the magic that takes me back to the days when TSR meant Gygax and Co., Dragon Mag wasn't glossy and Judges Guild was just starting to crank out their first guidebook supplements/adventures and Dungeonneer was itself a digest-sized 'zine. Tim Shorts' The Manor succeeds in all of this for me.

To start with, I love the red and black troglodyte cover. It is begging to be used as an adventure hand-out and I intend to write a suitable encounter around it. That clawed hand is reaching for you! And note the pointy teeth. Definitely some claw/claw/bite headed the player's way.

And that is just the cover. Tim has managed to stuff his 'zine with a nice amount of material without making the font too small for me to read. As I get older the more I appreciate non-tiny font. The first article is tiny, a micro-adventure. On its own it is an itsy-bitsy adventure but it ties in nicely with other aspects of the 'zine and can be easily expanded. Just reading it over I can see several ways to run it and provide a few surprises to spring on the players. The Salt Pit would be handy as an encounter near the Village of Hommlet or somewhere near The Keep on the Borderland. With all the talk about zero-level funnels dropping a group of them down the Salt Pit is definitely an idea.

Jason Sholtis of roll1d12.blogspot.com comes up with excellent and varied random tables. His 'There is Something Shiny in the Troglodytes Dung Heap' is another of his short and amusing offerings though I needed to replace the car keys.

Rural PA: Ghouls House is a good inspiration for fantasy horror or somewhere that Lovecraft should have included in his stories. Pennsylvania is home to number of mines, abandoned farms and even towns that need very little work to use as an rpg setting. Tim has a found an excellent spot, the photos and description are good idea sources, though perhaps a little heavy on the ghouls.

Sadly the Poetry Slam did nothing for me, though I did like the Umber Hulk illustration.

20 Random Forest Encounters is a useful little table of encounters for a mostly low level part. There is a nice balance between those that could hurt, help or amuse the player characters.

Street Vendor: Orsen's boots presents a trio of useful NPC's and a trio of adventure hooks to go with them. These characters can be used as toss-away one time encounters or NPCs that can be used again and again.

The Manor Issue #1 is a successful entry into what seems to be a growing world of 'zines. I'd recommend going for the subscription.

You can find Tim Shorts at:

gothridgemanor.blogspot.com

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