Romance of the Perilous Land (2019) is Osprey’s other debut RPG. Things here are familiar and new in equal measure. It is obviously a game of Arthurian adventure, but unlike Pendragon, it doesn’t attempt to adhere to any sort of canon. Despite the tag line of the game being about British folklore, it does not conform to the England of reality. There is no map, its a mythic place with undefined borders. This is good, because Pendragon already has the reconstructed romance covered, and this lets us romp in the Camelot of our childhood imaginings. Robin Hood is in here, too! Because even though he shouldn’t be, he should be, if you get me.

Continuing this notion of new but familiar, this is definitely a hack of D&D. It cites the OGL at the end of the book and lists David Black’s Black Hack as a prime source of mechanics. I can’t see specific Black Hack mechanics (I have a hard time parsing the different versions of D&D at this point, official or unofficial) but the class-based, d20, roll under attribute system is definitely smoothed down in ways the hearken to modern hack design. There are lots of nice things that ground the mechanics to the theming — characters are unambiguously good, “race” is mechanically absent, class is supported by trade-like backgrounds, there are armor points and the magic system is points-based as well. Valor points, earned through good behavior, can be spent for a variety of advantages. Its a rare thing: a simpler sort of D&D custom tailored to provide a familiar system for a different sort of game.

(Another mark in the game’s favor: its inclusion of illustrations featuring Black characters and women who are knights really annoyed a certain racist metal musician and maker of shitty RPGs. Fuck that guy).

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