Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Romance of the Perilous Land: a Review

I've been internet friends for over a decade with Scott Malthouse, a fellow of obvious Frissian-Quebecois descent as one can tell by his chosen last name. Our serendipitous-timed published  T&T scenarios worked out the secret recipe for what sort of power level PCs should be at to make doing GM-scenarios a worthwhile endeavor in a sub-genre of solitaire "dungeons" where being the one-eyed, left-handed, and peg-legged Rogue-Sorcerer was the only way to complete them as opposed to using any real rules . Since then we've gotten along. We don't always see eye-to-eye on things, still there is this thing called "sometimes understanding that despite different tastes and viewpoints, people can get along," which seems to be today's secret herbs and spices for a fulfilling bucket of fun in life.

So racist! A dude in a hoodie, a black guy, and an Irish woman! What no Eskimos?
One of his fixations that always kind of bugged me was his love of folklore from the British Isles. I mean sorry once you've seen a grown man dancing around a stick with bells on his hiking slippers and learned that Lancelot is from France, it gets kind of silly even in fairy-tale land. So when we bought two copies (one for the wife and one for the library) of Malthouse's latest work, Romance of the Perilous Land, I wasn't in a hurry to read it. Well, a group of passive-aggressive racists trying to malign this role-playing in mythic Britain for having people of color in its artwork, using "historical realism" as their basis, has been hilarious enough to get over my boredom at Arthurian romances to read the book enough to review it.

Then the reading turned into pleasure. From 11.Feb until 14.Feb, I was amazed at how much fun I having in seeing the kingdoms of the Perilous Lands come to life. I was happy seeing that the author didn't go all Pendragon with it. It kind of reads like a good T&T campaign set-up but with a lot of D20 set-up. The kingdoms outlined are usually from places mentioned in the Arthurian legends maybe the Mabinogion, it's been a while since I waded into that one, but kept interesting by being fanciful. The locations and the creatures are given enough color and detail to work into campaigns outside of this rule system's setting, with enough crunchy rules for even the hardest hardcore OSR fan. It is also interesting enough for the non-D&D fantasist like me to enjoy.  There is beef in this stew though. As mentioned there is the whole Arthurian thing going on. A Christ-like king is so broken up over his wife having a fling with a Frenchman that the world is falling apart. PCs can be either helping things fall apart or trying to put things back together. While this isn't authentically Dark Age Europe, it's not corn-chips Monty Python's D&D.

I'd rate this book a King Kong on the Smurf-to-Godzilla scale. It's one detraction is the separation of stats for the fantastic creatures inhabiting a locale when planting plot-seeds for the reading GM. With production this awesome, needing to go from the write-up to the bestiary just strikes me as unnecessary.  I can't wait to see what Malthouse does when he writes up his studies on his native Frissia. As we all know, Frissia was where all the black Anglo-Saxons that populate Robin Hood movies come from.


  1. Thanks for the review, Tom. My love of folklore is part of my unending charm and you know it.

    Cheers mate

    1. You're just using RPGs to pick up chicks. I am so jealous.