Tuesday 25 May 2010

Be charmed by Rustfoot's magic

Rustfoot by Jens Thuresson is a delightful blog filled with novel components that you can air drop into any fantasy campaign. Written from the point of view of a wizard who travelled your world documenting places, deities, magical items and so on into a single book. Beautifully written with a humorous (often dark) lilt, the posts will entrall and entertain you. It has become my default bed-time reading, relegating the tower of books to a passable alternative.

Do you believe in magic?

Magic items in games tend to follow a pretty typical methodology thus:
  1. Take a real world item.
  2. Put 'magical' in front of it.
  3. Describe it using a few words.
  4. Add a game bonus.
Although this is functional and facilitates the creation of a huge array of magical items, you tend to end up with a lot that look like:
Magical Sword, +2 damage, forged in the flames of mount Sliceanddice.
Which, in the mind of the reductivist turns into:
Sword +2 damage.
All the majesty and cool is bled away in the heat of the moment when you just have to consider the scale of damage you are inflicting on the Ork, Globin or hapless bystander. Further restrictions or rules do help the magical item to retain some of its intrigue but that is often sadly lost. It is, after all, just another +Something Magical Doohicky.

Although most obvious in magic items, I think this problem exists throughout the fantasy genre. A village on a stream becomes just another village. A fireball spell just another lobbed ball of burning death.

Enter Rustfoot

Jens has a talent for writing, crafting fresh never-seen-before ideas as well as turning existing tropes on their heads. Even the hardened roleplayer who has games printed on papyrus and who has been roleplaying since before Gygax's place of birth had geologically disconnected from mainland Europe, would be hard pushed to say they've seen this all before.

The presentation of each item is not a cold stat-block but a delicious description through the eyes of Rustfoot. You can't help but be drawn in. The sketches included are reminiscent of the naturalists who explored the expanse of the Pacific - they do not need to be beautifully rendered by a professional, it wouldn't look like Rustfoot had created them.

Blogging drawback

Update: has added a contents page now. Superb! Thanks, Jens.. Being a blog, there isn't an index so it is difficult to browse the content. I've defended the same constructive criticism levelled at me, which is why I created the RPG Directory. Rather than labour the point, I've made a quick one below of the items Rustfoot has scribed so far.


Unique, novel and bound in charm with every post. I wanted to outline a favourite but I really couldn't. The magic items and spells are the most delightful and perhaps most useful to the fantasy GM. They say familiarity breeds contempt. Wrong-foot your complacent players by breathing some of Rustfoots splendid discoveries into your game.

Jens, thank you for sharing and let me be the first to demand a PDF book if it!


Jensan said...

Thank you for the kind words in the review! It felt kind of strange to read about my own blog...

The PDF will be compiled eventually, I just want to wait until I have enough material. I was playing with the thought of an annual PDF, e.g. "Rustfoot 2010-2011" (hmm, although now when I see it written like that, it feels a bit morbid, like a obituary notice...). I'd also like to offer that PDF as a print-on-demand thingy, though I'm not sure about pricing and such.

And finally, being a programmer at heart, I think I've come up with a solution to the indexing problem that I will see to at once!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the tip. What a wonderful discovery.

Rob Lang said...

@Jen, you're welcome. Please please please keep writing your wonderful prose and sketching your delightful drawings. It deliciously unique.

@Risus-Monkey, may I suggest you pop a blog post plugging Rustfoot too? The content should be light enough for a Risus reader. :)

Anonymous said...

Pangaea gaming, that must've been fun! I will add you to my blogroll Jensan. I'm not a huge fan of fantasy games. can the idea translate well into other genres?

Jensan said...

Gordon: I believe the ideas transfers quite easily, although you might be better off writing a completely new setting (or use an existing one).

Take for example my last entry about the posh society of Bow and Tea; I'd love to see that in a sci-fi setting ("The Society of Raygun and Blue milk"...?).

I've created a table of contents now, by the way!

Rob Lang said...

@Gordon - I think a similar sort of blog might be useful for other genres but I wonder how setting specific they are. Fantasy is broad enough for Jens's items to be useful wherever but I imagine Sci Fi/Postapoc and your favourite - cyberpunk might be a bit too specific in their genre.

@Jens - nice one on the contents page. I have updated the blog accordingly.

matt said...

Great find Rob! After I read your post I traveled over to Rustfoot and got lost in it's magic for about an hour or so. Truly an excellent blog I know I will be adding to my list regularly read blogs!