I’ve just placed an order for the Land of Legend (by Axian Spice) series on DTRPG. These are five, thin booklets, that promise to help you spice up your campaigns, settings, sandboxes with interesting areas and encounters. The series consists of:
- Lands of Legends – Fairy
- Lands of Legends – Grim
- Lands of Legends – Holy
- Lands of Legends – Mundane
- Lands of Legends – Primeval
This is the blog post from Axian Spice about the successful funding of these zines.
What are these things in reality?
These zines present 100 unique encounters and 100 special areas tailored to the specific theme they represent. The booklets are aimed at the OSR world – BX, S&W, LL, OSRIC, and the like.
These actually deliver what they promise. They are simple, easy to use, and very to the point. There is nothing more and nothing less in there. The encounters and the areas I found useful, imaginative and would prove to be fertile soil for adventures. As I was reading I found them to be more adventure hooks (or maybe that is just me) – but I did find useful ideas in there in each and every one of these very short booklets.
What you should expect are descriptions, ideas delivered in a few sentences in d10 random tables. If you purchase these, you can get printed versions (PoD from DTRPG) and you can get digital formats. The digital version also comes with printer friendly B&W variant.
This is the part that I found problematic. These represent prime examples of design over content (or substance). In an old-school style of design, where the main goal is information delivery, this would be roughly 40% in size (40% in the number of pages). And this is just one thing. The other is that in a lot of cases, the design appears to be more important than the content and is actually to the detriment of actually communicating the desired information.
What do I mean by this? When I opened the “Mundane” booklet, my first thought was “Why would you write a book using the condensed, non-bold (regular) version of the Godfather font?.” Do You remember this picture on the left?
Okay, this is a stretch, but this is what came to my mind trying to read titles in the book. Try reading the below on the first try, without straining your eyes or your mind.
And then go on to reading the actual book contents. I was very much struggling with trying to understand these. It is very difficult to read, and I am not sure why they insisted on keeping the same fonts and then using automatic font sizes… This is a terrible design decision. The whole booklet presents the d10 rolls in this fashion and I could not wrap my head around the reason for this.
The only thing I could think of is that they wanted to bring some consistency into this layout. If that is the case, then the aim was true but the goal was missed.
Going to the other zines, the readability improves, but the content vs. design ratio does not. Or maybe even gets worse. The “Grim” version for example looks good, like a poster for a metal band, but that’s about it:
Looking at the above, I can’t help but think of the Black Sabbath Vol 4 album cover that to me resembles the same principle. Looks pretty cool, but that is a cover or a poster. It is not meant to be a casual read or convey more information.
If I continue on, I think I like the design of “Holy” the least… To me, it is a difficult to read, high-contrast, inconsistent mix, with some of the fonts being again difficult to digest. I mean, the yellow-back mix? That is just weird! At some places, there are filler texts with huge letters for no real apparent reason, crisscrossing with strange hyphenation. As on the left, the gigantic text is clearly HOLY – DSR EET, using a style of font that is a mix between integrated circuitry and the Norse runes. I could not help but think about sasa lele…
I am, by no means an expert or someone whose opinion matters, so this is just my view of things.
- I think I did (and probably also will) find these booklets useful.
- I believe that this 5 booklet could have been reduced to 40%, which would improve its usability by 400% percent.
- Because of the above, I think these booklets are expensive. To me, they cost more than their true value is, and this I would think ties back the lot of extra, fancy design elements, the design work itself and the number of extra pages this adds on top.