So thanks largely to Doc Rotwang's cheerleading for the random tables in it, I finally got myself a copy of Castle Zagyg vol. I, Yggsburgh, the setting book for Uncle Gary's Castles & Crusades-powered attempt to finally get Castle Greyhawk into print. (As a note to local readers, I ordered my copy through Armored Gopher Games. Special orders with them are fast and hassle free.) I'm really digging this book. The old Gygax charm is there in spades. And the random tables are as awesome as reported. There's a set of charts where not only can you roll up a random encounter with a bear, but you can then determine that the bear is wounded and angry. How can I not love that? And there are all sorts of nice little touches, like giving the heraldry of all the great knights of the realm and even going to the trouble to explain some of the trickier coats of arms in plain English. And the big pull-out map? One word says it all: Darlene. In my experience no other game cartographer combines form and function so flawlessly. If only the hexes were numbered, the map would be perfect.
But one thing is kinda freaking me out about this book. The general period of history being riffed on is way later than I usually dig in my D&D. Believe me, I'm no stickler for medieval accuracy at all. At the game table I tend to mix and match bronze age Conanery and faux-medieval Athuriana with whatever else happens to float my boat. But tea with breakfast? Nobles wearing wigs? That's just a little too renny for me. Not that I loathe renfaires, but rather that sort of late period game reminds me too much of the art and adventures of the sanitized, homogenized, and generally vanilla 2nd edition AD&D era. No doubt I'm extra sensitive to this concern right now because I'm also reading Margaret Wade Labarge's A Baronial Household of the Thirteenth Century. The 13th century comes off as positively barbaric compared to a world of perrukes and earl gray.
Still, the book is great. And ignoring the two pages devoted to fashion isn't going to break my brain. And on the other hand, I could maybe see trying for a more renaissance-inspired look in a Hackmaster game. Refusing the PCs an audience with a lord because they aren't properly dandified sounds like the sort of thing that could happen in Hackmaster.