Wednesday, September 08, 2004

My Eyes Hurt

Probably my eyes hurt from a combination of getting up too early (woke up at 4:445am; couldn't get back to sleep) and staring at this cathode ray tube all day. Probably. But my attempt at lunch to read the 3rd edition Player's Handbook certainly didn't help. Setting aside the horse-choaking quantity of rules and the too-cool-for-moi dungeonpunk art sensibilities, what really put an extra dose of hurting on my ocular orbs was the damn lined-paper effect behind the text. I hate these sorts of effects! One of the few things SenZar loses big points on is the grayscale art obscuring the text. (The other main deduction being for the lack of monster stats in the corebook.) But at least SenZar has some white pages. Here at my desk, under the merciless glow of multiple neon tubes, the PHB is pretty easy to read. Under anything less than ideal conditions it becomes a major pain in the ass. Is the text of the 3.5 books similar hosed? If it is, then I can see some possible solutions to D&D-induced eyeball ache:

  1. Mongoose's Pocket Player's Handbook (Upside: Only 20 bucks new, chock full o' 3.5 goodness. Downside: May have eyestraining layout issues of its own.)
  2. Professional pdf of the SRD (Upside: Cheap and easily available at RPGnow. Downside: Must print & bind. "SRD pdf" sounds stupid.)
  3. Make my own book using the SRD. (Upside: Totally customized rulebook. Downside: It will look like ass. Readable ass, but ass nonetheless.)
  4. D20 variant, such as BESM d20 or Castles & Crusades. (Upside: In different ways both seem to scratch my itch better than mainstream D&D. Downside: Finding players is harder the further you step away from mainstream D&D.)
  5. Old school D&D. (Upside: I love this crap. Downside: Do I want to stretch myself a bit, or simply spin my wheels?)
  6. Savage Worlds. (Upside: Readily available player base. Kickass rules-medium system. Downside: It ain't D&D, thus kinda missing the whole point. The local player base may burn out on the system.)
  7. SenZar or World of Synnibarr (Upside: Designed for nonsensical, wahoo adventure. Downside: More hated than loved. Virtually no player base.)

It's easy for me to fall into the trap of waiting with baited breath for the next game that will finally be the perfect fit for me. HackMaster was the last such game for which I pined. It was a great game, but not a perfect fit for me. My new last best hope for peace is the aforementioned Castles & Crusades. Why I let myself get all worked up over these forthcoming products I'll never know. Even if they meet my expectations building a game group around them is like pulling hens teeth, especially when we are talking about substitutes for good ol' D&D. A different genre is much easier to sell. But when you are talking about a game that focuses on killing orcs and stealing gold you have to work extra hard to come up with an answer to the dread question "Why don't we just play D&D?" That's a hard question to answer. "Because I don't like the graphic layout" ain't much of an answer, nor is "Because I'm a lazy DM."