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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Review - City-State of the Sea Kings - Part the Second - Late (me), Layout and the Look

Yeah, this part of the review is late. Really late. I've been fending off a cold for the past 2 weeks, and if the 3 weeks my wife has been fighting her's for is any indication, it aint nearly over yet. Sitting down with a book is an easy way to summon the Sandman, and I can't seem to get enough sleep.

I am finding the boxed grey highlighting for GM related material to be distractingly annoying. even the abbreviation of the City-State of the Overlord is boxed and highlighted - why? What purpose does it serve but putting a horrible break in the middle of the text I'm reading.

Here's two quick examples:

 I'm finding this to be at least as annoying as the artwork used as the page background / watermark in Numenura. In this case, I'm fine with it for the really large sections of boxed text, but it's a huge distraction in the middle of a paragraph. It breaks up the reading rhythm needlessly. Oh, and it's just way to dark. Less is more.

I've also run across examples of the final line of a paragraph having three words, and auto-justification has those three words filling up the line. That's just sloppy editing.

The artwork, however, is certainly top notch. Much of it is fairly simple in nature, but it's clean, sharp and abundant.

Oh yeah, I was supposed to talk about the population centers - towns, cities and the like. If any one thing sticks out to me, its the number of locations that are pretty close to be "racially specific": Ring-Tail (Gnomes), D'alfang (98% Human), Entenwold (99% Shadow Elf), Foundation (94% Half-Elf) and Paetor (Mixed Eleven). These are great. These places are excellent tools to make the average PC feel like an outsider (admittedly, there are locations they would never willingly walk around in the open anyway).

Each of the towns included have enough info to make the visit real and different for the PCs then the previous town they've visited. There really isnt a generic town at all.

Thus far, the strength of the City-State of the Sea Kings is in it's content (although I will readily admit the content given for the City of Rallu is a bit overwhelming - more on that with the next post. I'll take content over presentation any day - at least presentation can always be fixed in a later printing.


  1. I can't really think of a good justification for those shaded areas; they're annoying and distracting. I guess it's just another failure of commercial design expertise, like the elaborate watermarks we were all bemoaning a few months ago.

  2. That's a damn peculiar way of printing a book... Almost like it started as a PDF with links and when they printed it the links became visible. But.. not quite.

  3. I think they need to redo this with the grey taken out.
    I would hope this can get into distribution. Distribution is the main reason Labyrinth Lord is so dominant among the OSR as the game people actually play; they can go into a real games shop and buy it. LoTFP likewise. Proctor and Raggi ponied up a bit of cash and reaped the benefit. I don't understand the no-distribution attitude of Frog God, ACKS et al, it means that especially outside the US the stuff is unavailable or prohibitively expensive.

    1. Getting into distribution is a lot harder than you seem to think it is. It's not a question of "attitude" of the publisher. Distributors are choosy about what they will and will not offer.

    2. I read Daniel Proctor talking about getting Labyrinth Lord into distribution. I'm sure he's a very talented guy but it didn't seem insanely difficult for him. And the result I've seen is that LL is actually played by the general roleplaying public, not just by a tiny circle of Internet OSR-ites.