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Thread: Fight On! #10
Wednesday, 3rd November, 2010, 03:32 PM #1
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Fight On! #10
Posted on behalf of crusssdaddy.
DISCLAIMER: I was a contributor to this issue – I make mention of my adventure 'City of the Ancients' below, but I try to keep my comments brief.
With its recently released Summer/Fall 2010 issue, Fight On! magazine reaches double digits. This issue provides 140 pages of adventures, reviews, new monsters/spells/items/classes/traps, variant rules, as well as a tribute to Tom Moldvay. Let's get to it...
Three detailed (20+ pages each) adventures provide some real meat. The first – 'Khosura: Part II' – is a continuation of Gabor Lux's Middle Eastern-themed city location. This chapter details the haunted catacombs, lost temples, and bizarre dungeons that thrive beneath Khosura's streets. The Undercity is composed of several levels, with numerous entrances and exits linking nearby levels with each other and the city above. Notable locations include a gladitorial arena beneath a popular inn, several temples dedicated to gods fair and foul, a sewer section, and several tomb sections housing the restless dead.
There is a good mix of combat, puzzles, traps, and opportunities to interact with the Undercity denizens that do not involve bloodshed. Parties that lack a diligent mapper will be at a serious disadvantage – the layout is quite complex, particularly the interplay between the various levels, and getting lost is remarkably easy. With eight maps and dozens of keyed locations, the Undercity could conceivably provide the average group of gamers with enough material for several months worth of sessions.
The second is a sprawling Lost World-style sandbox from James Mishler, 'Lost Dragonia.' Adventure awaits those enterprising souls who can pierce the magical veil that conceals a lost island. As any sandbox worth its salt must, 'Lost Dragonia' provides encounters for a range of PC levels. Low-level characters can battle debased Dwarf cannibals, lesser dinosaurs, and the remnants of a conquistador colonial civilization. More accomplished heroes can square off against larger dinos and the three monstrous beasts that periodically thrash across the island: a Godzilla-analog, a Mothra-alike, and a gargantuan wholly mammoth that deserves to be nicknamed “Stampy.”
'Lost Dragonia' is designed to be dropped into any campaign. Keyed hex descriptions are generally quite extensive, providing all the framework a DM needs to minimize prep and keep the session moving quickly. Initially I thought the Spanish Main theme out of place for a fantasy setting, but the flavor actually works quite well when viewed as a whole.
The third is 'City of the Ancients,' the latest offering in 'The Darkness Beneath' megadungeon that spans the entire run of Fight On! The background is inspired by Geoffrey McKinney's CARCOSA: two factions of Space Aliens – one committed to logic & technology, the other devotees of sorcery & madness – battle for supremacy amidst the ruins of a hi-tech city. It's a little bit of a kitchen sink: Space Aliens, cultists, robots, a hover tank, Lovecraftian terrors, some familiar D&D monsters, and much more. Encounters are balanced between keyed locations and unique random encounters. If you have been looking for a way to inject a little CARCOSA into a more traditional Old School campaign, this might make a suitable entry point.
Numerous smaller adventures provide material for DMs looking for a one-shot. Several 'One Page Dungeons' are included – 'The Heart of Darkness' stands out, challenging players to hexcrawl their way up a nightmarish river. Encounter Critical enthusiasts will be heartened to see 'The Godzillas Will Breath on You': Geoff McKinney leaves the gloom of CARCOSA behind to provide a suitably zany set-piece for EC.
New monsters/spells/items/classes/traps are always a prominent part of each issue, and #10 is no exception. Entries span the gamut from deadly serious to Rientsian-whimsical, ensuring that there is probably something here for everyone. I particularly liked Lee Reynoldson's Cult Leader class, which reminded me of battling the various Chaos mooks in GW's Advanced Heroquest boardgame.
Dragon and White Dwarf lost much of their appeal when they became exclusive to TSR and GW support, respectively. Fight On! #10 works to avoid that mistake, and delivers a new monster for Bushido and a '50s casino setting suitable for any game that needs such a thing. In my mind, the value in presenting material for obscure/forgotten/off-the-beaten-path games is very real – jaded players and DMs get a fresh look at the hobby, left field inspiration, and potentially the desire to try new games or genres.
James A. Smith's 'The Familiar Spirit' really stands out for enlivening the otherwise uninspired standard rules for spellcaster familiars. You could end up with an Undead Brownie, a Miniature Hag, or a Small Anthropomorphic Lion, among other critters. Each comes with a couple powers of its own, and a benefit or two for the spellcaster: poisonous attacks, one-a-day powers, enhanced spellcasting ability, magic resistance, and more. An additional chart randomizes personality quirks for your mini goon. It's a versatile and flavorful system that should inspire you to add several of your own custom little peckers to the list.
For my money, Fight On! continues to be the flagship periodical of the OSR. The volume of material and range of ground that it covers conspire to provide unrivaled value. The magazine has grown quite a bit from humble beginnings, yet maintained its hobbyist vibe and commitment to an amateur aesthetic. Looking forward to #11!
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