Jürgen Hubert is one of those gamers who makes it worth my while not to become a complete hermit. He's got a steady cascade of neat interpretations, fresh ideas, and conceptual fusions, and is fun to read. (He's drastically changed my perception of at least one setting (Dark Sun), and influenced significantly my takes on others.) For old-timers, I can say that he reminds me a lot of the Bryan Armor kept White Wolf newsgroups, lists, and forums full of fresh ideas back in the '90s. Now he's published a PDF, and I think you should buy it.
Doomed Slayers is a mechanics-free supplement offering a cultural angle on any fantasy setting where some people make a primary undertaking out of adventuring into dangerous places to defeat perils and gather loot. What kind of person does that, anyway, and why? Jürgen's got some answers for your consideration.
Why? A whole spread of reasons, including surviving a tragic encounter with monsters, hoping for the romance and glory storytellers talk about, escaping banal heavy obligations, and more.
What? This is the heart of the piece. There's a Slayer's Code, each point expanded on in the file:
- Go where you are needed, help where you can.
- Do not tarry where you are not needed.
- Own only what you can take with you.
- Fight the monsters, not your kin.
There are also some common responses to Slayers, from the rest of their society:
- Pay them what you can, appropriate to what you ask of them.
- Do not bar their way.
- What they find, they keep.
Out of all this, and the rest of the concepts laid out, a complete yet highly adaptable social structure emerges. You'll recognize precedents, and it's not like Jürgen would claim otherwise - he explicitly discusses some of them, and how the specifics of D&Doid fantasy might change them. You get a system that is fallible and exploitable in lots of ways, and yet serves a real purpose and is capable of enduring for a long time, if the classic dungeon fantasy conditions continue. You get a genuine moral and social foundation for what could easily be - often is - purely amoral or even anti-moral looting and pillage.
I love it. I hope you will too.
I have a couple of brief criticisms, neither of which in the slightest detracts from my recommendation.
First, I'm not wild about the art. It's a cartoony style, and I'm a hard sell on cartoons as game book illustrations. It seems fairly well done, it just doesn't feel to me like a good fit for the prose.
Second, the publisher botched the incorporation of the OGL. I've already passed relevant info and contact suggestions along. If any of you are actually publishing OGL stuff these days and want to do the same, couldn't hurt.
So. Go. Get. Read. Like. Use.
[5 of 5 Stars!]