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The Wildside Gaming System: Fantasy Role-playing by Leigh Ronald Grossman
Review by Steve Sawicki
Wildside Press Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 0809511142
Date: 31 August, 2004 List Price $29.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

I used to play Dungeons and Dragons. I even dabbled in Tunnels and Trolls for a while and spent more than a few hours with hover tanks and short-range personal tactical nukes. Exactly what game I played depended on how complicated I wanted things to be.

Dungeons and Dragons campaigns would run for months, sometimes longer. Part of the joy in playing, besides bashing the occasional horde of Orcs and Beholders was developing your character and learning about the world the character walked in. For Dungeon Masters the joy was in building that world and populating it with people and monsters. The difficulty came in that the D&D system at the time had a lot of holes in it so we ended up creating a lot of our own material. This is fun if you like spending hours and hours and hours and, well, you get the idea, gathering your own material. Sometimes there was logic in what we created and sometimes one too many beers got in the way and we ended up with some really silly and strange stuff. And watch out if those slips of paper ever got lost.

The Wildside Gaming System purports to be the one book any advanced gamer needs for both character and world creation. While such boasts wander into the realm of hype, this book is a lot farther along toward that end than any other I've seen or played with. The book is split pretty much in half, with the first half being dedicated to characters and character creation. There's info on the different ways to create characters, info on skills available and how they can be learned. There's a section on combat and on thieving and on spells and wizardry as well. Then there are the spells themselves. This is a big book with fairly small print so it packs a lot of information between the covers. There are all the spells you've heard of and a boat load of spells you've never thought of.

The second half of the book is given over to world building and campaign running. Again, there's a lot of information here, some useful and some probably not depending on how much detail you want to include in your system. But, better to have it and not need it than to not have it and need to create it on your own. Doing research on this kind of stuff can be really tedious. I mean if a fully laden horse can run at full speed for 4.2 miles, how far can a fully laden unicorn run? What about a pegasus or a centaur? These are not things you want to be arguing about in the middle of your dungeon.

This system was debuted at Worldcon and instead of the one afternoon it stretched over four days. Quite a debut and a better recommendation than I could probably ever give. This is great stuff and whether you're a world builder, a character builder or just someone who enjoys getting mired in details this is the book for you. No hover tanks though and no personal nukes, which is just as well since the last time one of my characters got his hands on one he fumbled it and nuked his own party. Not the way to make friends as there are no saving rolls from mushroom clouds.

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