Sunday, July 19, 2020

Wizard Funk 2

Intrigued by the promise of a return to those halcyon days of the late-70s when I was too young to participate in zine culture, I threw five bucks at DiceBro for a hard copy of Wizard Funk 2.  And boy howdy did I get exactly what was promised - a throwback to the oldest school of D&D social media.

This fun little zine contains two full dungeons, one of which is great and one which is terrible.  Stick a pin in that, we'll circle back to it later.

In addition to the two dungeons, this little package contains a nice gaming rant by the DiceBro, an interview with an old TSR employee, and a couple of brief ingredients you can throw into your own campaign.  The riddle selection is nice for those times you want to stretch your players' gray matter with something other than combat, and the reverse centaur monster (with a horse head and forelimbs sprouting from a human neck) is suitably weird and creative enough to throw at your players to keep them guessing.

The art is exactly what I had hoped for.

It's grungy line art that shows a lot more enthusiasm for the material than technical skill.  Spread throughout the book, it adds just the right kind of do-it-yourself feel to the proceedings, and reminds the reader that you don't have to be slick with a light pen and digital processing to evoke a sense of grim and desperate wonder and alieness.

Erol Otus was the master at this, and the art in Wizard Funk owes much to the master's influence.

Now let us turn our gaze back to the dungeons.  The big one is a multi-level bugbear infested castle run by a man named Garth.  The players have been teleported to the front porch and have to find a way to teleport themselves back home.  It looks like this is a continuation of an adventure from the first issue, which I do not have, but it could be easily dropped into any campaign as a nice one-shot fetch quest.  The maps are rough, but Jaquayed enough to allow for some scouting and tactical movement.  The descriptions are mercifully brief, with a kitchen earning two short sentences - all that any half decent DM needs to flesh things out.

It's the second dungeon, The Dungeons of Neraz, where the quality takes a nosedive.  This image should give you an idea of the gauntlet style of dungeon you get.

Where are the forks?  The decisions?

This dungeon reminds one of the old TSR tournament modules, which were designed for one-off convention play, and worked within that framework just fine.  When used at a normal table, they feel like a modern day WotC railroad, and Neraz's dungeons read with the same feel.  DiceBro can do better than this, I can feel it.

In the final analysis, the price point was perfect.  Five bucks is perfect for a fun and nostalgic look at a more informal and free-wheeling time of tabletop role-playing.  Dedicated D&D players can get a lot out of this, but as more of a wargamer, it's just a fun read to me.  An object lesson in how, and how not to, design dungeons.

If this is the sort of DIY stuff you like, you'll appreciate Wizard Funk, warts and all.  And you'll definitely want to keep an eye out for the promised third issue.

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