Friday, December 1, 2017

OSR Commentary & Review Of Black Dogs 'zine - issue 1 From DaimonGames For Your Old School Campaigns

So today's been a bit on the crazy side but I did actually notice something new in the OSR G+ stream this morning. A handy little new Lamentations of the Flame Princess / OSR campaign setting fanzine called  Black Dogs 'zine - issue 1 From DaimonGames.  Its an interesting campaign setting beast masquerading as a LoFP  fanzine folks. This is a pay what you want title with a suggestion of three dollars on the check out Que.

"Black Dogs is a dark fantasy collection of house-rules, materials, adventures, monsters, and together a toolbox to generate new content for OSR systems, particularly focused on Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Black Dogs shares a common set of rules and aesthetics with Lamentations, but it has its distinct
flavor. Whenever a rule is not found (or not presented yet) in the Black Dogs ‘zine, just use the default from Lamentations or whatever OSR system you’re running. "
It goes on into the weird fantasy aspect of the spirit of the setting; "There’s less horror in Black Dogs, although the material sticks to clearly dark fantasy tropes.
In just a few words, Black Dogs is a dark, late medieval setting, for monster hunters and mercenaries
- kept together into the loose frame of an informal organization that lends some purpose
to your characters. When you play Black Dogs you play for three things mostly: monsters, wilderness and its
encounters, and non-playing characters’ communities.
Basically, the material from Black Dogs aims to bring together three of the most popular fantasy literature and gaming tropes: fighting monsters, traveling in a foreign and fantastic world, interacting with a fantasy
community and its people."
So essentially this is a Pike & Shot  B/X Dungeons & Dragons fanzine with some dungeon master's  house rules, monsters, etc.? Alright got  it but then this bit got me in the spirit section on monsters;"There is not too much fighting: fights are a few and are risky and important, with emphasis on tactics. Monsters are many but your characters encounter them with a purpose and a fight is also an encounter, with its complexity." So the fanzine is sounding more War Hammer Fantasy then Lamentations of the Flame Princess from here on out. That's not a bad thing but as I continue to read its like the the campaign setting, house rules, character generation for Black Dogs is trying to keep its feet into both pools, the Lamentations & Warhammer fantasy pools. Here's what I'm speaking about with the summery of the campaign setting's world of Black Dogs;
Think of Europe in a very late medieval time: there’s a new
expansion and a growing economy; a new sense of wonder and discovery; and the feeling that even if there is not going to be an empire, ever again, the single nations and city-states will provide
safety and prosperity.
It’s a world divided in two: culture and fashion, print and social changes, prosperity and
new emerging classes rule in the major cities but the majority of the land still lingers in a feudal, oppressive and brutal social order. It’s a world where a knight might still wear full plate
armor and a winged helm, while another favors a light cuirass, a dagger and a musket.
A world divided
Religion still dictates what’s right and what’s wrong, and fire burns heretics; but a new authentic desire for freedom also infiltrates the most solid religious orders. Monasteries and abbeys collect sacred books, and also foreign tractates, manuscripts of magic and alchemy, mysterious maps and bestiaries among them.
Almost everyone is Christian but many worship, in secret, the local spirits of the ancient
times. A few talk about a new faith in reason and science. Even fewer know that whatever you believe in, you must guard yourself and human kind against The Wild and the demons
of the night."
So you get a history of the Black Dogs adventurer organization, background history, character generation, and so forth. But Black Dogs 'zine - issue 1 is trying to do traditional OSR Dungeons & Dragons Pike & Shot with conventional Dungeons & Dragons. What I mean is in on the introduction campaign setting of Flussberg city  for the Black Dogs;"This Black Dogs introductory adventure aims to give you a taste of the world of Flussburg; a small village with local political troubles and a greater menace looming on the horizon. There is also an element of weirdness with monsters and a tree that breathes life into the dead. Flussburg is probably wrong in German. If you speak German and it sounds weird to your ears, you could call it Villa Flumine in Latin. Or just pretend it’s a weird name because it’s medieval." Black Dogs 'zine - issue 1 does an alright job giving some Gygaxian ecology on the trolls, fleshes out the setting, PC generation twists, and the background of the city . But again this felt more like a Warhammer Fantasy back water city then an LoFP. I wanted more from this setting,more flavor, more weirdness, and more of the quality of the weird that I've come to expect in a product that even unofficially bears the LoFP moniker. This product is trying to hard to be everything to everyone & loses its product identity half way through. Well I'm really spoiled when it comes to Lamentations of the Flame Princess.  I'm used to the Red Moon Medicine Show's Vacant Ritual  quality of material of LoFP fanzine.

Now with all that being said, I think that Black Dogs 'zine - issue 1 is a fine Pike & Shot style campaign city & wilderness setting for B/X Dungeons & Dragons. Given its direction, ideas, etc. its a perfectly suitable animal for a campaign jump point into its world setting as a quirky later Medival style game setting if your looking for something that will emulate a Warhammer Fantasy style low level adventure setting.

So four out of five stars for
Black Dogs 'zine - issue 1

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