Sunday, December 24, 2017

Review & Commentary Player's Handbook like a Fucking Boss By Venger Satanis

Christmas confession time I've been reluctant to do a commentary review Player's Handbook Like A Fucking Boss By Venger Santanis .Why pray tell? Well, because I'll be honest I'm not a Fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons  dungeon master or player. I've tried the system , looked it over, wrapped my head around it, & sorry folks its not for me. Basically I did all of this at the behest of a player of mine & to convert or use some of the Fifth edition stuff if necessary. If you love it then fantastic! Go for it but for me & my players  Fifth edition hasn't made an impact. I'm an OSR & retroclone system dungeon master.
Player's Handbook Like A Fucking Boss By Venger Santanis  is actually almost entirely system neutral.  So what the heck is it?! Well according to the Drivethru add;

This is a grab-bag of fantasy goodies for use with O5R roleplaying games.  That means everything from Basic D&D, AD&D, all the various retro-clones, systems similar but not identical (like Crimson Dragon Slayer), and 5th edition." This is more or less what Player's Handbook Like A Fucking Boss By Venger Santanis is.  This a bunch of PC options that can more or less add punch & power to your player characters. "

But it done in a slim style & with the razor style of Venger. But first let me say that Glynn Seal of Monkeyblood Design must be a God damn genius. The layout is clear crisp but easy on the eyes. The artwork is good and there's a fold out piece battle scene artwork piece that is killer. The philosphy of the book touches on something that I've been finding with folks in the OSR over the last couple of years;
"Though I grew up on Basic D&D in the mid-eighties, my old school tastes have straddled the dark, mistladen past, as well as, the contemporary
conventions of today.
My own fantasy heartbreaker, Crimson Dragon Slayer, had done away with the more cumbersome elements of the game. To me, the old school renaissance is about taking the essence and philosophy of the past and then making innovation after innovation until everything that seemed inordinate, clunky, and weird is made smooth - sanded by decades of theory, practice, common sense, and talking to other gamers with a shared passion for RPGs. But sometimes we can go too far, innovating ourselves right off the map."
This past summer, I decided to re-read the many fantastic posts at Grognardia. That inspired me to go back to basics, or Basic D&D. I kept all the funky stuff that I usually threw out - rolling for initiative, racial access to certain classes and level limits, different tables for saving throws and experience points… pretty much everything except descending
Armor Class, one spell per day magic-users, and worrying about circumstantial modifiers (just used
Advantage/Disadvantage).To my surprise, I really got into it. The minutia which, for many years, I assumed to be awkward relics that stood in the way of progress actually turned out to be absorbing and a whole lot of fun. When every point of experience is counted (fighting monsters, looting treasure, exploring, making the game world
your own, etc.), then every experience (point) counts. It matters if the PCs wait in ambush for the ogre to walk by or if they charge into the next room.
A couple dozen XP might be the difference between going up to level 2 and staying level 1. It's
amazing what simple pleasures you forget about after the game's been streamlined.
In my desire to maximize our enjoyment of the macro-game - the story, overall battles, interacting with NPCs, and exploration - I had neglected the micro-game that takes into account precious resources and their management. Not only arrows, torches, and rations but also gold and kills before
having to rest. Even silver pieces are cherished when they can be spent on training!"
So, even though I'll continue to run and primarily write for Crimson Dragon Slayer, that recent minicampaign reminded me just how awesome old school retro-clones can be. For all of our renaissance, innovation and renovation, there's something about the original iterations of the game that can't be beat… even with a ten-foot pole."
So it seems to be really well written, nicely thought out, from the heart, & then we get chart after chart of system neutral character options for your old school games. From 'fantasy sounding names' to 'dishonor & infamy tables'.
I admit the random 'CRIMSON PHASIC DETH WYZARD VORPAL' table is very METAL & well done. Its basically a metal table for battle wizards to get an extra edge & it would fit quite nicely into Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition  or Dungeon Crawl Classics game. Behold the sort of effect I'm speaking of;  "Invisible fire strikes 2d6 opponents for 3d6 exploding damage, as well as, affixing
them to the floor and walls as if they were caught in a spider's web." Cue guitar or keytar syth riff here!
Then he goes into short essays on bards, clerics, reflecting in battle as an optional rule, cut down swarm rules for play,  a fun list of possible character actions, words,and accomplishments in order to gauge your raw quotient of awesome in a given adventure, awesome point rules & that's it!?!

What the hell did I just read?! At thirty two pages this was way too short of a book. Venger is a solid writer & designer who needs to settle down & do more writing & designing. This is a three & a half or four star book because of the fact that I was expecting more from a book with the title

Player's Handbook Like A Fucking Boss. This book seems to be a catch all of random tables & PC options for players with a few solid random tables and it seriously needs a lot more expansion before it hits the four or five star territory. Alright Venger so you've been playing since the mid Eighties then I'd love to see more essays & actual options of yours on the subject. Players actually value your wisdom & by the fallen Gods I'd love to see more of it from you as a writer! This book should be about hundred pages with all kinds of bits & bobs about your gaming over the years that pepper your blog & books. Player's Handbook Like A Fucking Boss feels like a bit of catch all and in that regard I was a bit on the disappointed. But as a player optional reference well that's a bit of a different story. As a book of player options 
Player's Handbook Like A Fucking Boss 
if your DM agrees to using it at the table its a book that works as a quick fill in & fill out for players. There are tons of optional pieces that the player & DM can easily & quickly work into an adventure on as a part of the on fly & seat of your pants style that Venger loves.  So in this regard its a four out of five. Understand exactly what your getting into when you purchase Player's Handbook Like A Fucking Boss.

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