Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Looking in on The Manor

As I've mentioned before, I'm really enjoying Christian's Loviatar fanzine -- so much so in fact that I've been keeping my eye on several other fanzines popping up across the old school scene. One of these is The Manor by Tim Shorts of Gothridge Manor fame. Issue #1 came out in May, I believe, and I happily devoured its contents when I first received my print copy (the only way to enjoy fanzines, in my opinion). I've been meaning to make a little post about it for several weeks now, but one thing or another has kept me from doing so, much to my embarrassment. Life's been fairly busy round here, as regular readers may have noticed, but that's no excuse not to spread the love about Tim's delightful little fanzine.

Issue #1 is 24 pages in length and is available either in print or PDF. As I said, I much prefer the print edition, but I'm a Luddite who derives considerable pleasure from holding a book in my hand, so take that as you will. The issue begins with a brief introduction by Tim, where he lays out where he's coming from in writing and presenting The Manor. Of particular interest to me was his the section where he says:
I do this for fun, not to change minds or challenge gaming philosophies. I roll dice, laugh, and try to make my funny voices sound convincing.
I like that a lot and I'm glad Tim placed it in his introduction.

Following it is a "micro adventure" called "The Salt Pit," in which the characters are asked to investigate (naturally) a salt pit in which a mysterious creature has recently taken up residence, thereby disrupting the mining done there and placing the livelihood of a family in jeopardy. It's a very simple scenario and perhaps nothing we haven't seen many times before in various forms, but I like the little touches Tim added to breathed life into it. Immediately afterwards is a D12 table by Jason Sholtis called "There's Something Shiny in the Troglodyte Dung Heap," which is just what it says.

There's a fascinating little article called "Rural Pennsylvania: Ghoul House," which details a creepy house in Mercer County that's home to a lich. I like the idea behind this article, but it's a little short for my taste and it's unclear what game it's meant to be used with. The stats look like those for Swords & Wizardry; however, it's a modern-day locale. More successful and clear, I think, is "20 Random Forest Encounters." Like "The Salt Pit," the basic premise isn't something we haven't seen many times before, but it's filled with clever little tidbits that bring the encounters to life. The same is true of "Street Vendor: Oren's Boots," which describes a boot shop run by the eponymous Oren and his wife, Laura. Also described is a friend of Oren (and his mysterious past) and a selection of adventure hooks.

Issue #1 of The Manor is a solid premier issue, one that highlights what I like most about Tim Shorts's approach to gaming, namely his interest in investing even the most basic scenarios and encounters with little inspirational details, whether it's the magic potency of spiderwebs found in the forest, the grave of a beloved pet, or uses for bugbear hide. These all add interest to what might otherwise seem like well worn, even banal, gaming elements. It's my hope that, as further issues of The Manor are released, we'll see Tim continue in this vein, improving on the foundation he's established in the first issue.


  1. The Manor is good stuff. Just got issue two last week.

  2. I, too, love The Manor. I'm hoping to have some art accepted there. Also, Tim's an all-around good guy.

  3. Looks promising and, for $2.50 for the PDF, who can resist?

  4. Thank you James for the review. Glad you enjoyed it. Second one on the way.

  5. Thanks for doing this review, James. It was great fun to get more orders. Have a groovy day, and boogie boogie.