9/04/2016

Frugal GM Review: Strange Trails

Frugal GM Review: Strange Trails
Originally I was going to review this one PWYW item, but after looking at the preview I decided to not only get the PDF, but a soft-cover printing as well. It'll probably be a couple weeks before I can review that item.

Lately I've been on a bit of a kick in actively looking for "stuff" to review that I probably wouldn't use myself. This week it was Strange Trails, a freebie preview of previously "published" blog articles for a new pulp fantasy RPG called Weird Adventures. I've just about given up on reviewing complete RPGs because I'm not getting the extra table-time I think needed to do a RPG review justice. An article sampling for a new RPG, different thing altogether.

This 23 page PDF comes in at 2.59 MB and is largely black & white. There are some color pics, and even a sepia-toned greyscale pic or two, but aside from the front cover I'd say the PDF is relatively printer-friendly as it is also US Letter sized. The PDF is secured & watermarked, but neither is an issue for a product like this.

Now I have to admit that pulp fantasy is not my thing. After my customary flip-through I only read a couple of articles. I did really like the layout and there were a couple of things that just hit my mental checklist of things that usually get overlooked. First off, with the exception of the 1st article (which makes sense in context), and the dreaded OGL page, the fonts are quite consistent. There is a basic flow to the articles that adhere to this internal consistency. All too often a product like this is visually jarring to flip through the pages. I almost wish the pictures would have been standardized, like being run through a newspaper "filter", but that's probably just an idea off the top of my head....

I really liked the notes sidebar, but two things really stood out for me. First was the fact that the 1st page (after the cover) was the credits page. Even the pictures sourced from Public Domain were cited, if possible. I know that is a little thing, but it is something that I pay attention to and often find lacking in the realm of small/indie publishers. The second bit I loved was the page and a half of media sources that work for pulp fantasy inspiration. The sources listed were annotated, which was a nice touch.

Frugal GM 5 Star Review: Strange Trails
As far as the articles themselves go, there were several that seemed like they'd work just fine in a "regular" Fantasy RPG with minimal tweaking. I think the "old-school" gaming from back in the day had a bit more pulpy feel to it than most FRPGs do today, maybe not a lot, but definitely "more". Overall for a freebie download I think Strange Trails is worth a look. Worst case you get an idea or two, best case you get the itch for a Pulpy RPG and go on to pick up Weird Adventures.