Weird Adventures

I’m a bit late to the party here, but I just finished reading Trey Causey’s Weird Adventures.  I don’t normally go in for setting or campaign sourcebooks, so I’d originally dismissed Weird Adventures as some kind of Indiana Jones-ish pulp adventure supplement set in the 1930’s/40’s of our world.  Boy was I wrong, and rarely so glad to be wrong.

It is heavily insipired by pulp adventure stories of the 30’s and 40’s, but it’s set in an alternate reality that has many similarities with our world, but is not our world.  Many locations and features of this alternate world are recognizable and yet different.  At the same time, the supplement is not a slave to real history or culture.  It mimics it where it works, and charts its own path where it makes sense to do so.

It’s a world where magic is an open and accepted part of modern society, as if your typical D&D campaign finally managed to not only advance technologically, but also incorporate, even exploit, magic industrially.  And it’s a world where adventuring (in the D&D sense) is considered a (mostly) legitimate profession.

Though the book is very light on rules crunch, it’s clearly written with D&D (or the many clones and varients) in mind.  However, it would not be too difficult to use the setting using another system, like Savage Worlds, GURPS or, as I was thinking, a modified version of Shadowrun…to me the setting feels much like 1930’s version of Shadowrun, replacing the ‘Net and cyberware with lots of supernatural weirdness.

In fact, I’d say there’s almost too much weirdness going on, particularly in the well detailed City of Empire (more commonly ‘The City,’ essentially a weird fantasy version of New York City).  Fortunately, many of the strange happenings are presented in the form of rumor and legend, so the GM is free to decide which weirdness is true and which is urban myth.

Weird Adventures provide plenty of setting material and adventure leads.  For example, there’s enough material on the surface locations of The City to run a campaign for years.  And that doesn’t count the often hinted (though not detailed) sub-levels of The City: the sewers, waterworks, subway tunnels and ancient burial complexes The City was built upon…basically endless dungeons to explore and loot.

Though it is meant to be a largely systemless sourcebook, it is clearly rooted in D&D.   I would have liked to have seen a few rules, or at least suggestions, on how to handle things like modern firearms (particularly machineguns) and car chases using D&D style mechanics.  And while some information is given for services (like hotel rooms and train tickets), a price list for adventuring equipment in 1930’s dollars would have been nice, too.

Likewise, more information on how adventurers operate in this industrial-fantasy world.  Do modern adventurers still wear platemail armor exploring The City’s sewers, or do they have more effective modern alternatives?  Is it better to use a Tommy Gun or a magic sword?  I suppose much of this kind of detail is meant to be sorted out by players and GM’s as the game progresses, a process of invention and discovery, so to speak.  But more fluff (i.e. hints) about adventurers would have been nice, especially considering how much other detail is provided on the setting.

None-the-less, Weird Adventures is one of the best setting sourcebooks I’ve ever read.  If you don’t mind mixing fanatasy and technology, and like pulpy adventure, you should check it out.  You can sort of preview the book by going to Mr. Causey’s blog, From the Sorcerer’s Skull (click on the Weird Adventures Index in the sidebar).  Cheers.

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4 Responses to “Weird Adventures”

  1. trey Says:

    Thanks for the review. I’m glad you gave it a second look. Your correct in that there was stuff I left out (or had to leave out to keep the length down) and sometimes those exclusions were so the GMs could tailor it both to the system they were using and their own tastes.

    My own personal answer is that a tommy gun is better than a sword (magical or otherwise) except that magical swords can do things guns can’t–like hit magical creatures. Some of this stuff I have covered on the blog:

    Here’s a post on the use of ancient/pre-modern weapons by adventurers. Here’s one on the history of guns and gunpowder in the City’s world.

    More hints can be found in the various posts on “Adventurers of Yesteryear”–some of whom (like Eliza Gunn) get mentioned in WA.

    Your suggestion of a modified Shadowrunis interesting and oneI hadn’t thought of before.

    Again, thanks for the review.

    • edowar Says:

      You’re very welcome. Reading your blog is what finally convinced me to take the plunge and pick up Weird Adventures. Also, I should have mentioned in my review that your blog has a wealth of additional material on the setting.

      Somehow, though, I’d missed the post on the use of ancient/pre-modern weapons by adventurers. That is indeed the kind of additional fluff I was looking for. Thanks very much for pointing it out.

      Cheers.

  2. Rick Crawford Says:

    Interesting! I’ll have to check it out some time.

  3. David Jenks Says:

    Thanks for the review (Ed) and the comments (Trey)….I never would have known about this if I didn’t read this blog. 😀

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