Being in the Main the Mouth of Olde House Rules

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Ten Foot Pole

Yesterday we got Issue #1 of Matt Jackson's one-page zine, creatively entitled "The Ten Foot Pole", delivered straight to our mailbox the old-fashioned way.  And it was Christmas in August, complete with an awesome old-school pedigree!

Now Matt is well-known for his fabulous maps and imaginative adventure side-treks.  You know, those little stops along the way to slaying dragons and other, sexier fare.  But as fans of Matt know, oftentimes the side-trek IS the best adventure and the stuff players remember most when it comes down to it.

The content is top-notch (we'll get to that), but first we must praise its delivery.  Hand-drawn, photocopied, and send via traditional post is old-school as Hell!  Back in the 70s, the only way for amateur types (the backbone of our hobby) to share their material was to hand-write (or type) and mail it out to subscribers the old-fashioned way, which is exactly what Matt did!

There's something organic and genuine about this approach that's completely old-school.  We use a typewriter font and exploit digital resources to achieve a signature look, but this is as authentic as anyone can get - awesome stuff.

And if you want to see more, visit his blog here...

The Ten Foot Pole, anyone?

As for its content, while it's tempting to imagine old-school gameplay as being universally fun house/gonzo with lots of puns in the (enjoyable) fashion of Flying Buffalo, there was yet another expression of 1970s fantasy; a trippy and Tolkien-esque mixture that imagined earthy forests and sleepy villages, often with terrible secrets beneath their otherwise rustic exteriors...

Issue #1 of Matt's promising one-page zine delivers such an experience in the form of The Molted Branch, an atmospheric little shop and tavern with a proprietor who has something to give and perhaps even more to take.  Want a drink?  

And its main NPC is cleverly statted for Pits & Perils, which left us feeling honored and with less work to do when we use these in our own campaign setting.  So thanks for that, Matt!

We sincerely hope Matt has more in store.  His Ten Foot Pole delivers fantasy settings usable with any old-school game, and with very little effort.  In the meantime, we recommend his formally published works, including Side Treks I and II, for which he is a contributor, and Bloodnut Pass, his opus for Pits & Perils...     

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