Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wizards Mutants Laser Pistols No. 1 Review

Alex over at Wizards, Mutants, Laser Pistols was kind enough to send me Issue 1 of his new zine. The 22-page zine is geared for use with the Labyrinth Lord system (and thus Mutant Future), but the ideas and concepts I found within could work with just about any system where you wanted to introduce some bizarreness. The editorial says in part: "It will be weird and quirky, mixed up and cross-genred..." And that's pretty accurate from what I've seen here. What's within? Well:

  • From the Wizard's Lab -- Alex discusses how he first became introduced to role-playing and introduces his plans for the zine. (He even manages a Thundarr the Barbarian reference!)
  • The Animator -- If you can draw it, it becomes real when you play this magic-wielding artist. Using special techniques and inks, the Animator's sketches become three-dimensional. Draw a door on a wall, and open it to enter the next room. Draw a weapon, and pull it from the page as you wade into combat. Seven levels of "spells" are described as well as the requirements needed to play this new character class. I got a real Warner Brothers feel from this article.
  • Beneath the Ruins -- This is "level one" of an ongoing adventure campaign that takes place in the ruins of Kihago where the Luminites battle with their rivals, the Tribe of Yrtuk. Although this beginning adventure is steeped in the fantasy tropes, there is plenty of potential gonzo here to satisfy sci-fi gamers. (Mutated humans, ancient technologies, forgotten ruins, forbidden genetic experimentation, and lasers-lasers-lasers!) There are 11 new monsters to play with too.
  • The Web Walker -- Beware of this new creature that can best be described as a "cobweb golem." Using webs from a phase spider and arcane rituals brings one of these sticky humanoids into being. They are very strong, very intelligent, and very evil.
  • Module Mania! - A crossword puzzle based on classic D&D module titles.

So there's a LOT of good OSR stuff for $3.50. And there was nothing I'd qualify as "typical," as the material presented is creative and unusual enough that anyone could get a good idea or three just from one casual read-through. So for that alone, I'd recommend picking it up.

However, as a professional editor who works for a textbook publishing house, I can't help but comment on several design flaws that detract from the readability of the zine. The fonts are all over the place -- sometimes changing up in the same article. Pick one and stick with it -- it makes it much easier on the reader. Misspellings and grammar issues can be found throughout, and even the Table of Contents has a problem as two of the five articles are reversed in the listing. Even though I enjoy and can get behind the "kitchen table" feel of the zine, I gotta ask for just a bit of "editorial polish" for Issue Two.

In summary, this is a fun first effort with a lot of good unusual content. Reading it made me feel like I had dropped through a timewarp to my parents' basement circa 1983. (It reminded me of my own first gaming zine, AQ: Adventurer's Quarterly.) Sniderman suggests you pick up your own copy from Alex by clicking this link right here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review, Sniderman! I'm glad you found interesting ideas in it, as that's our primary goal. Thank you for the critiques, as well. We're just starting to learn the ropes and constructive criticism is so appreciated.