Synnibarr vs WotC

FitzTheRuke

Legend
If you asked me to give you a list of RPGs my memory, Synnibarr wouldn't make the cut as I'd never think of it. But when someone mentions it I remember it. One of my friends owned Synnibar, but we never actually got around to playing it. Kind of like Battlelords of the 23rd Century.
Now that I've looked into it, I kinda vaguely remember the cover art.
 

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I've been online friends with Raven for years now. In that time, I have found him to be a delightful loon full of boundless enthusiasm.

I should probably mention that I'm the reason people first think of giant mutant fire clams and flying grizzlies with laser-beam eyes when they think of Synnibarr. :)

For contributing to the lore of the hobby, I and my army of psychic cyborg samurai kung fu warriors salute you!
 

Honestly speaking, while the later is clearly more well-done (and given its' reputation, that's saying something), there's nothing specific you can say about Synnibarr that you couldn't say about RIFTS -- both are overwrought gonzo madcap nonsense games with cludgy and uncooperative rule systems and settings and character options which lean heavily into the 'Swords and sorcery, but also lasers and jet fighters, and PirateNinjaCyborgZombieCowboyAttackChihuhuasFromMars. Moving farther down the 'same gist, just better executed spectrum, Star Wars -- either the RPG or the IP in general, is cut from the same cloth (laser-sword-weilding space-wizards play The Damn Busters while reimaging western- and samurai- movie tropes). I think viewing it as an MST3K movie is the right framing -- it is an earnest attempt made by someone without the wherewithal to make something great (but given the timeframe, actually rather impressive given their constraints).

The idea that from the OP that Wizards did anything to crush Synnibarr (or cared about it at all, really) is pretty silly. That, more than the RPG itself, is where I hold my less lighthearted head-shaking for McCracken.


 

I actually owned the game way back when. It's bad, but also so over-the-top bad that it might make for a fun read. It's not like FATAL or SF:NG where it's bad and filled with bigotry or other nasty things. At least not from what I recall--I owned it probably 25-30 years ago and I doubt I read the book more than once.

It's basically built entirely for powergamers and includes a rule that the GM not only is supposed to stick to the adventure completely, but the players can demand to look at the adventure to make sure that they did. So it has a GM vs. Player mentality, but on the side of the player; the GM is just supposed to provide things to kill. The basic setting itself isn't terrible--a god or gods, seeing that some disaster would destroy the Earth, hollowed out Mars and turned it into a World Ship, filled it with people and magic and weird science, then sent it off into the cosmos. A competent GM could do something with that idea. It's just that neither the lore and rules make any sense and McCracken started off by insulting other RPGs (because his was so much better) but fell into the exact same traps he claimed made those other games bad.

The setting itself seems cool, he should just upadate for 5e (or 5.5e) and play to it's strengths, instead of its weaknesses.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
The setting itself seems cool, he should just upadate for 5e (or 5.5e) and play to it's strengths, instead of its weaknesses.
It would not work for any sort of D&D-like system. It's way too gonzo for that and way too high-power. It would need to be a system for superheroes, where you can start out super-powered and go up for there.

But if McCracken could actually rewrite the core lore to make it more streamlined and consistent and have rules that worked, it might actually do quite well nowadays.
 

Geekrampage

Explorer
It would not work for any sort of D&D-like system. It's way too gonzo for that and way too high-power. It would need to be a system for superheroes, where you can start out super-powered and go up for there.

But if McCracken could actually rewrite the core lore to make it more streamlined and consistent and have rules that worked, it might actually do quite well nowadays.

He just, like two months ago, released a new edition. Has anyone seen it? Can anyone comment?
 



Geekrampage

Explorer
I just took a look at the sample pages of the PDF. ::eyes widen:: ::covers mouth in horror::

Oh. Oh Raven. Oh no.

::lowers head:: ::shakes head slowly::

This is a monstrosity. The first edition was a paragon of clean layout and presentation compared to.. to whatever this is.

Just one example. You misspelled "movment" (sic) in your introduction to the Movement rules.
1663284060612.png
 
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Geekrampage

Explorer
also, "lowerst".

1663284911061.png

That's not what 2d10 means.

I don't mean to turn this thread into a "pile on Raven's writing/layout" but good Lord the 3rd edition is a mess. I will clutch my beloved first edition until the end of time!

1663285286012.jpeg
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
If the books actually look like the sample pages... well, that's just sad. Maybe he just picked bad pages for the samples, but that they do not live up to the gonzo nature of the original game.
 



I just took a look at the sample pages of the PDF. ::eyes widen:: ::covers mouth in horror::

Oh. Oh Raven. Oh no.

::lowers head:: ::shakes head slowly::

This is a monstrosity. The first edition was a paragon of clean layout and presentation compared to.. to whatever this is.

Just one example. You misspelled "movment" (sic) in your introduction to the Movement rules.
View attachment 261471

So highest advantage number goes last for movement and first for action.

Someone needs to just keep the amusingly bizarre fluff [the setting, characters, and monsters] and move the crunch [the rules] to a suitable system. FATE maybe? I doubt McCracken's ego would let him.
 

darjr

I crit!
Say what you will about synnibarr as an rpg, McCraken has managed to write and release three editions of the game.

Far West however...

 
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Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
also, "lowerst".

View attachment 261475
That's not what 2d10 means.

I don't mean to turn this thread into a "pile on Raven's writing/layout" but good Lord the 3rd edition is a mess. I will clutch my beloved first edition until the end of time!

View attachment 261478
Yes, those excerpts look sad. The book you're holding in your hands is the third edition I've owned, though. That's the one from 1993.

The 1991 edition with the cheesecake Winged Warrior on the cover (art by comic artist Dameon Willich) was a bit simpler. For example, the other two character generation methods apart from the Classed Adventurers hadn't been introduced yet. It was also a big perfect-bound paperback, though. Similar format.

The first edition which I bought (probably in 1991, before the DW cover edition came out), which I haven't been able to confirm the publication date of yet, was in a big dark blue three ring binder, and all black & white.

I haven't been able to confirm any earlier editions, if any exist, but the new one which just came out and is officially labeled 3rd edition is actually the fourth I've seen and had a copy of. I just noticed that the Kickstarter page, under the Risks and Challenges section, says "I have published this by myself, eight times from 1980; I will do it once more. This time I have a GREAT TEAM to assist me; we shall not fail."

Say what you will about synnibarr as an rpg, McCraken has managed to write and release three editions of the game.

Far West however...
At least four, and possibly as many as nine, per Raven's account! Though Wiki still only records the existence of the 1991 and 1993 editions, and a 2012 Kickstarter.

So highest advantage number goes last for movement and first for action.

Someone needs to just keep the amusingly bizarre fluff [the setting, characters, and monsters] and move the crunch [the rules] to a suitable system. FATE maybe? I doubt McCracken's ego would let him.
Yes, higher initiative getting the advantage of moving last and acting first has been a thing in a lot of games. The most prominent more recent example I remember seeing is in Star Wars: X-Wing, the miniatures dogfighting game, though I've definitely also seen it in other dogfighting games and in some older RPGs.

The idea is that movement is actually simultaneous (like it ostensibly is in D&D), so the winner of initiative actually moving their model or character second allows them to see and react to the enemy movements after they're committed to them- a huge advantage. Then you get to take/resolve your action/attack before the enemy as well.
 
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Jaeger

That someone better


11 years and a manuscript with no art or layout. Not even a PDF yet...

McCracken is an RPG creating machine by comparison.

GMS game design better deliver, if not, the punchline that is Far West will become more legendary in the retelling...
 

Autumnal

Bruce Baugh, Writer of Fortune
Cross-genre play was a staple of many people's experience from the mid-1970s on.

Empire of the Petal Throne (1974) gave off an unusual gravitas thanks to Barker's attention to detail, but the guts of it are planetary romance, which has been about throwing science and fantasy together in a blender since the dawn of the 20th century. (Ditto for Lin Carter and Scott Bizar's Flash Gordon And The Warriors Of Mongo (1977); arguably, a pulp game is at least halfway to a general action game.)

Arduin (1977) wasn't a fluke so much as a common set of ambitions pursued with more than usual determination, because Hargrave was like that, and a big spread of genre options is part of that commonality.

Lee Gold's Lands Of Adventure (1983) isn't quite multi-genre, but was intended to cover the spectrum of historical fantasy, with included source books for classical Greece and post-Roman Britain.

And so on. I didn't hear about Synibarr until later, but if I had, I'd have recognized it as a game with lots of company.
 


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