7/25/2014

Frugal GM Review: The Manor, Issues #1 & #5

Frugal GM Review: The Manor, Issues #1 & #5
The Manor is a quarterly zine put together by Tim Shorts, currently under the GM Games banner. Somewhere I had gotten a copy of issue #5 and filed it away forgotten. With DriveThruRPG's Xmas in July sale going on for just under four more days I thought I'd pick up issue #1 for review.

Honestly, when reading through issue #1 I was pretty "meh" and didn't want to review it. When I went to file it away I discovered the #5 issue and decided to look at both for a review. I'm glad I came back to it, because #1 was far better than my initial impression led me to believe (I guess we all have off days).

Issue #1 has six articles, mostly written by Tim and is rather simple & straight-forward. After an interesting introduction we go right into a short little adventure. There isn't a lot to this adventure, but just enough for an interesting side encounter. Next is a decent d12 random table, the last entry of which I don't care for. Easily written over if printed or I can use Adobe typewriter tool to put in something else on my PDF. I didn't care for the next two articles, mostly because I wouldn't see much use for them personally. The final two articles are quite interesting though. The first is a fleshed-out d20 random forest encounter table. The last article is a good in-depth entry on a street vendor, something often overlooked by the average adventuring party.

While my second read-through of Issue #1 left me with a favorable impression, my initial impression on Manor #5 was good from the get-go. You can really tell that Tim's skills have improved over the course of the Zine's run and he's had a lot more contributors. The first article, a collection of four NPC villains, was quite the attention-getter. I could see using these as party foils. Following up the "Vineyard of Villany" is a collection of "Cursed Concoctions". While I personally will probably never use any of these cursed potions, it was a good read and really hit my OSR nerve. Next was a simple d20 x d20 random tavern name generator, which will give you 400 variations. I also really liked the next two articles, the first being a collection of four unusual doors that could be encounters and/or treasure all rolled up into something your party may end up overlooking......up course I know of at least one adventuring group that likes to steal the doors of dungeons they loot! I don't know who wrote the last article, "20 Random City Encounters", but I have to assume it was Tim because of the striking similarity to the random encounters in issue #1. The final bit of content, not an article, is a quick map on the inside back cover. This felt like a bit of a throw-away to me, but hey.....it is content on a usually empty piece of Zine real estate.

Frugal GM 4 Star Review: The Manor, Issues #1 & #5
The Manor is a more traditional RPG Zine that comes in sized 8.5 x 5.5 inches and at least with #5 looks like the primary format was printed and later scanned/printed to PDF for an electronic copy. A quick look at the publisher's website seems to confirm this. I think this Zine is definitely worth checking out, and if you do so within the next few days you can get all six issues in sale!