Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Capsule Reviews: Green Devil Face #2 and Death Frost Doom

Reviews aren't usually my thing here, but I just finished my initial read-throughs of my PDF copies of Green Devil Face #2 and Death Frost Doom that I downloaded recently. My general impressions:

Green Devil Face #2
Overall, this wasn't my cup of tea. Despite having cut my teeth in 80-81 with AD&D and having been part of a generation of gamers who bragged about who did and did not survive the Tomb of Horrors, my general tastes don't run to clever death-traps made to slice and dice those who are foolish enough not to second-guess the tricks I have set up for the night.

That said this magazine delivers what it sets out to do. The traps in this volume range from gonzo psychedelia (The Eyes of Parsifur and Dunsane), to the contrived (Doppleganger Trap Room, Mummy Tar Trap Room of Death, Temple of Water, The Incredible Pedestal), with some evoking nice campaign background (The Pylis Prison) or pure brutal Tomb-of-Horrors cruelty (most of Jim Raggi's traps) all of which are creative, allow opportunities for players to avoid death (or screw themselves), and really evoke the kind of one-upsmanship one would hope for in a 'zine of this sort. Though I'm not likely o use any of this, I have to say it was a fun read, because in the midst of all these exercises in DM sadism is a sort of glee and dark playfulness that you just don't see that often in more "professional" publications. Thus, I have to say that Raggi is on the ball here, and making a fine publication to fit its niche, even if it ain't my thing.

Death Frost Doom
I'm not sure I would ever use this in my own campaign, unless I took a much more horror-based direction. But this is a great example of atmosphere, building mood, and turning a game that doesn't seem well-suited to horror scenarios into a rollicking horror scenario. I would love to run or play this in a one-shot, with players's forced into making tough, even foolish choices just to survive. Though the inclusion of Raggi's tower scenario from Fight On! seems to be a little tacked-on, this package gives you a couple of brutal horror scenarios, with options for roleplay, genuine creepiness, and a sense of overwhelming danger as players find that they can't hide, can't rest, and can't fight against horrible evil. Good stuff.