SUMMARY

I'm a d20 guy. I'm not a big fan of silliness or fairytales. The Zorcerer of Zo (ZoZ) was NOT a product aimed at me. But I happened to see it on the front page of RPGNow and the concept intrigued me.

It's truly rare (this is the first time it ever happened to me) to find an RPG product that is both original and sound... Usually truly solid products are the result of ideas that have been beat to death until they're finally ready for production. ZoZ defies all that.

In these pages, you'll find a VERY simple rules set comprising 8-9% of the overall product. Once again, I'm not a fan of "rules light" systems. All my previous ventures into that world have had goofy, uneven results that weren't worth repeating. But, in this setting, the simple, wide open rules work perfectly.

The rest of the product is what makes the simple rules work... You'll find a truly indepth study of fairytales and useful analysis on how to construct fairytale stories even for people who're used to grittier genres. You'll find a wealth of information on how to change your thinking to immerse your gamers in ZoZ and give them an experience beyond what they'd ever seen before. It may sound silly, but it's true. My family group, which I'd played (d20 FRPG) with for 20 years, found ZoZ to be the answer to all of their previous frustrations and the key to unlocking real, unfiltered fun around the gaming table.

The only failing of this system is that it WILL NOT work if someone in the group is a true rules lawyer and/or min/maxing power gamer. Other than that, pick it up now. You'll have yourself to thank for it.

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RULES

As you read above, the rules set is very simple and wide open. There are very few restrictions and any character at all is possible. Where every other game's limitations make it impossible to recreate your favorite movie or book hero, this system seems to be designed specifically to work for adapting fictional characters to an RPG.

The failing of this system stems from the same root as its greatest points... A wide open rules set allows a great deal more room for players to try and take advantage if they are so inclined. One player who's not on the same page and is willing to be a jerk about it can spiral the whole game into GM versus player as the Game Master continually has to say "No, you can't do that."

While tighter rules sets work better at discouraging abuse, they also tend to make the game more about the numbers than the story. If you've got players you can trust, the rules shouldn't be a problem.

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SETTING

The ZoZ setting is also simple, but creative and interesting at the same time. The whole core setting is displayed on a single page, which oddly enough is plenty to get the ball rolling.

Also part of the setting is an entire recount of the first ZoZ campaign to serve as a model. Since the entire game takes place in concepts, it's very nice to have a working example of how the game was intended to be run. This aspect, to me, is the most important part of the project and really gets people in the proper frame of mind to make a ZoZ game rock.

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GENRE

Surprisingly fun and more versatile than you'd think. I've got ideas for using the "ZoZ" core to play all kinds of games from horror to space opera. Once you "tune in" to Chad Underkoffler's enthusiasm, you'll find yourself perpetually inspired. I had to put down the book on several occassions to jot down all the ideas that were occurring to me.

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VALUE

I purchased both the print product and the PDF, which I think is the way to go. The PDF alone is overpriced and the formatting is really setup for the print run anyway. The price for the PDF and the POD together, I think, is just about perfect.