So I’m breaking my normal “No Review” rules, because the creator of this game specifically came to me and asked me to review this game. (Note: I was given a free PDF of the game). If the publisher is ok with my reviewing it, and I feel it’s of interest to players out there, it’s probably a good thing to do!
I’m normally fairly critical of the OSR scene (Old School Renaissance) as I feel the projects from that school of thought don’t do enough to add back to the hobby (in a game design way). However, I was challenged to try and change my view, and I pride myself on being willing to defend and learn my viewpoints and change them as I learn more.
So here we go. Mazes and Perils Deluxe Edition!
What is Mazes and Perils Deluxe Edition? Well it’s the updated version of the Ennie award winning OSR game. That seems pretty cool. It’s “grit and wit” roleplaying (as the publisher calls it). Designed to harken back to old “Holmes” edition Dungeons and Dragons, it’s a pretty stripped down version of OSR.
But, there are some things about it I found very impressive.
- Clarity of Purpose: A big thing for me when I get an RPG is clarity of purpose. I usually don’t want a game that tries to do all the genres or all the types of stories in that genre. Games that narrow their focus and try to deliver an experience with their rules are my sort of game (Pendragon being a notable example). Mazes and Perils does a great job of keeping the eye on the prize (the prize being OSR style roleplaying), and they jettison anything that gets in the way.
- Easy to Read: An issue I’ve ran into with OSR games is that often times, they’re written to evoke the original style of Gygax, and…that just doesn’t work. We’ve moved a lot of the design space for RPGs into modern language, modern concepts, and sometimes, keeping the language and wording stuck in the 70s doesn’t work out. M&P doesn’t fall foul of that line. Aside from some noticeable exceptions, they modernize a lot of what’s going on in there, and take their time to explain the various pieces of the game.
- Evocative Art: The art isn’t going to be award wining, but what it does, is evoke a particular feeling (that of early RPGs). It’s chosen with an eye towards theme and it clearly shows when you read the book.
But how does it play?
Actually, really well. I was impressed how quickly it was grasped by the players (none of whom had done OSR before). The death toll took a bit to adjust to, but they quickly came around, and suddenly there was a certain level of investment in the game and the setting.
It’s a game that shifted my views on OSR, and now I’m eager to go back and see if I can find other ones I like. It’s always pleasant to find your viewpoints challenged and grow a bit, and realize you were wrong.
So thanks to the Mazes and Perils team!
You can find their game on their website (linked above), or on DriveThruRPG!