Frugal GM Review: Pits & Perils

Frugal GM Review: Pits & Perils
Last month when I gave a bad review to my friend Matt's side adventure Bloodnut Pass I was kind of surprised by the results. Matt was fine with the review...he was trying to write a certain way (and succeeded)...but I hadn't heard of the rules system he wrote it for and when the author of that ruleset reached out....

....well I was surprised. James George was a retired Combat Weather officer and probably worked alongside some TACP guys I knew. Small world....

At this point I need another RPG system like I need a whole in the head, but I still pick them up to look at all too often. I still buy games I'll probably never play and I sure as hell don't turn down a free game. James sent me a download of his Pits & Perils  "Not looking for a review or anything like that, just wanted to share the love."

I'm not sure he's aware of my 1st two rules about this blog....

Right off the bat, if you are looking for high production values, you'll be sorely disappointed. The font is a bit rough on the eyes and the graphics are somewhat sparse and a bit lacking, but consistent. The rub is this isn't actually a bad thing for Pits & Perils because it is really trying to emulate the really early days of RPGs. This is all explained quite well in the Introduction. I'd say that he did a great job straddling the line between modern sensibilities and capturing the "Ancient School" look. Unless he wanted to add in tape lines and cutout artifacts around the art pieces and muddied up the text (like offsetting every letter "p" or some such), he isn't going to get much closer. I guess he could change the font color to more of a mimeograph streaky blue/black.

Personally I prefer to actually play a game I'm going to review, but this last month I haven't gotten to game my regular game, much less any add-on sessions. The Frugal GM household has been plagued with sickness as of late and we are just coming out of it. I've already sat on this for a month and wanted to get the word out, but also want to be upfront about this being a read-only review.

1st off.....the PDF is completely open. It didn't need to be as open as it was, but I'll take it! My 1st read-through was on my monitor, which is less than optimal given the layout (or maybe given my widescreen monitor), so on my second pass I had to print this out in booklet form. Wow...it looked great in that format.

Printed & Ready to Play
Printed & Ready to Play
Reading through the rules I had several questions come up and in every single case, but one the answer was quite clear, I had just skipped over something in my reading. That last case was just a word choice I'd not have used...nothing major. If you go into Pits & Perils with an "OSR" mindset, like I did, you might have to re-read a few things before it'll make sense. For about a minute I was confused about the PC's Abilities.

Pits & Perils is clearly a rules-light game with simple mechanics. The only real issues I had with the rules as-written have to do with the way time and distance traveled is handled, which is a problem I have with most games. An easy tweak to make as a referee. This is a game I think most people could play with a rather simple read-through of the rules (as a player, mind you) and a simple PC Sheet.

What I love about these rules, aside from their simplicity, is that it seems like it would be easy enough to write for Pits & Perils and even though I wouldn't necessarily call it an OSR game (I'm going with ASR for "Ancient School Rules"), any GM worth his (or her) dice bag could adapt pretty much on the fly. What makes this so appealing is the "Open Supplement License". The OSL is way better than any OGL from a publishing standpoint. No more four page supplement where half of it is printing the actual license, which arguably has little to no legal merit....

Frugal GM 5 Star Review: Pits & Perils
......but I'm digressing. The long & short of it is that Pits & Perils looks like a great little game for $5. The rules are easily digested and it seems like the emphasis is on playing and having fun exploring. Everything you need except 2d6 and pencil & paper is there. If you need/want an "actual" PC sheet, or want some referee quick charts, check out the Olde House Rules website.

Personally, I'd recommend picking up the Pits & Perils Starter Pack ($5.99). I'm planning on printing up the accompanying adventure, some PC sheets and tossing it all in my game bag as a "impromptu" game for when I'm at the cons. Speaking of which, I wonder if there is any Pits & Perils on the Origins schedule......


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