Thursday, October 25, 2018

OSR & Campaign Commentary On World of Jordoba Player Guide by Matt Finch

"The World of Jordoba is the masterpiece swords & sorcery campaign setting written by ENNIE award-winning author Matt Finch. Jordoba is an ancient world populated by strange peoples and stranger monsters, physically fraying into the depths of the oceanic multiverse. Ruination has spread across the world, and the civilizations of the Sea of Khoramandu are pushed back to the very coasts. And yet, humankind has risen from worse threats in the past eons of its existence. Scattered villages remain in the wildlands, and new barons carve out freeholds in the wilderness, their names scribed upon new maps. Great wizards make sorties into the very shadows beyond reality, seeking forgotten lore and undiscovered frontiers of arcane scholarship. It is a world where unnatural things survive from ancient times, where nameless gods have turned their unfathomable intentions, and where even civilized regions must literally be re-explored.
This is … the Weirdling world of Jordoba!"

So once again I return to my first OSR love Sword & Sorcery with
Matt Finch's World of Jordoba Player Guide  which is done in the style of Seventies Marvel Conan or Sword & Sorcery comic book. This puts the reader in the product's mind set & campaign setting.

While this is about as system neutral a product you can get the whole affair reminds me of Marvel's Guide To The Conan universe .  The setting has the feel of a place about to come to the end of its act. There's a great deal of the Robert Howard or Clark Ashton Smith twilight's end of the world bit about
World of Jordoba.  The World of Jordoba Player Guide setting has the feel of a campaign setting on the last days as the setting bloated sun pulls the whole thing into the Abyss.  The dungeon master gets just enough detail to set adventurers onto the path of glory;

"MandrAknow  this, my fellow wanderer;The ancient civilizations around
the wine-dark waters of the Sea of Khoramandu arepressed back to the very
coasts. Do they not cling to the very coastlines against a  tide of beasts and barbarians
rising from the inland wilds?Even great kings upon their glittering thrones in the citystates
lie awake of nights,knowing that civilization may be in its last days!
Even the very fabric of the world is rent and frayed. Oh yes, There are places I know
of where you can walk straight through into another world than this, another time than
this, even into realms of shadow that lie behind the reality we see. Our world is parting at the seams,companion. The oracles know it. The great mages know it. Astrologers chart a path of ruin in the skies, and the wolves sing their triumph to the five moons.
Listen well, for what I tell you is little known and seldom spoken of. We talk of Goodness and of evil, we speak of law and chaos. But these are just the conceits of human morality, the way we order our little, insignificant place in the universe so that
we can understand it. In truth, however, there is a far larger conflict at work — the cosmic  forces of Order, Balance,and Ruination. This battlemight mean little to you now,
when your purse is shallow and your name means nothing.But as you claw your way
forward in the world, forces and destinies begin to coalesce  around you."

From here the
World of Jordoba Player Guide setting book jumps into religion, city states, numerous locations, the gods, astrological information, etc.. The whole book feels like Matt Finch's campaign setting notes & that's not a bad thing. What your getting is a thumbnail setting done right. That is to say a whole campaign world in fifty pages that you can make your own.
What really puts the world of Jordoba in a different place is how setting elements are used to draw the average Dungeons & Dragons or Swords & Wizardry PC in. The planar rifts element is used here ;
Rifts are areas of planar instability; the interior of the rift could be occupied by a
part of one of several different “worlds” at any given time. Most of Jordoba’s rifts have a native Jordoban interior that is the most common occupant of the rift. Passing through the border and back  while the native Jordoban region is resident in the rift is no different from ordinary walking. However, the native Jordoban region will often be replaced by part of some other world: possibly switching places with that part of the
other world, or perhaps sliding into one of the rift’s outlets in a third and entirely
different world. The  functioning of most largerifts is inconsistent: some astrologers can make good  guesses about the drift of  worlds through the rifts." This adventure campaign element allows the dungeon master to place the
World of Jordoba 
'where' & 'when' they want it. That's significant because it takes the pressure off of the dungeon master from ruining the flow of home brew campaign that's already in action.  The cartography is by Glynn Seal, the cover artwork by Adrian Landeros & the whole Sword & Sorcery affair has Matt Finch's writing & design all over it.
The dungeon master also is given a wide variety of factions, guilds, & brotherhoods to play with the PC's lives & use for adventure opportunity. They're well done & pretty solidly sketched out but not overly so. This same formula applies to the various locations around the setting such as;


Mbalamad, City-State of
Population (city): 60,000
Current Ruler: Her Eternal
Divinity Ralaibala II, God-Queen of
Mbalamad, Suzeraine of the
What people have heard:
- Vast Moon-Temple
- Sacred monkeys
- Rich dyes and pottery glazes
from Ghanzertes river clay.

Like I said the dungeon master is given just enough material to be able to customize Jorboda & make it their own for their home games. But what makes Jordoba is the idea of a multiveral cancer spreading across the world consuming the adventure setting as it goes. 

"Jorboda is  physically fraying into the depths of the oceanic multiverse. Ruination has spread across the world, and the civilizations of the Sea of Khoramandu are pushed back to the very coasts"
This gives the dungeon master all kinds of lisence to get use old school adventures & OSR material at will. The
World of Jordoba Player Guide's setting 
is solidly done & crams lots of ideas into fifty pages that many other OSR adventure settings take a very long time to do.
So for example if a dungeon master wanted to run the classic Keep on the Borderlands in this setting. The keep & all of its kit could be a short ride away. The idea of keeping Greyhawk intact & allowing the PC's to cross into another campaign setting makes this a brilliant adventure addition.

I can see using the World of Jordoba with other OSR game settings such as Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. The planar rifts & feel of the campaign setting allows parties to make the cross over easily. The fact a myriad of OSR systems could be used to run the Jordora make this a prime candidate for Lamentations of the Flame Princess.
The idea of expeditions from a dark historical Europe into a decaying dimensional Sword & Sorcery hellhole has all kinds of appeal as an adventure campaign.

Are there certain things that I'd change about the World of Jordoba Player Guide? Yes right off the bat there's no print on demand option for Drivethrurpg. Secondly I'd love a large version of the map featured in the Player's Guide as a separate PDF and as another print on demand product. 
Now the reason why this is a concern is the fact that this product uses planar rifts as possible adventure & campaign hooks. Players love to have actual maps & physical products to interact with.
All in all I was really impressed with the way that Matt Finch managed to pack so many original ideas into fifty pages. I think that the
World of Jordoba Player Guide is worth your time & money.

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