Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Yoon-Suin, a Review

Yoon-Suin, the Purple Land by Noisms of the blog Monsters and Manuals is one of the more wonderful campaign books I have seen. Yoon-Suin is a distant and exotic land of vaguely asiatic aspect far from faux Middle-Earth but also far removed from the Dragon Monks, Ninjas and Samurai of drier less imaginative takes of the far east. I can easily imagine heroes from the likes of Burroughs and Howard finding adventure in the lands of Yoon-Suin but protagonists from the works of Lovercraft and Vance would easily fit in as well. The most wonderful part of Yoon-Suin is the book is written for the game master that likes to tweak a setting and make it their own, this is is a fabulous toolkit.

The book begins with The Journal of Laxmi Guptra Dahl where the setting is outlined and evocative details are provided. this is essential reading to the GM but would also be of much use to the sort of player that enjoys such background information. If I were moving established characters from somewhere else in a campaign to Yoon Suin I would split this section into a few scrolls to be found among the treasures in adventures prior to adventures in Yoon-Suin.

After the journal there is a section that explains how to use the remainder of the Yoon-Suin book. the author makes it very clear Yoon-Suin is meant to be crafted anew by each game-master and while parts may unfold in similar manner from campaign to campaign they will always be different depending on who is casting the dice.  The guideline in this section covers how the author would recommend one tackles Yoon-suin for their game by selecting a region of the campaign and fleshing it out with the details provided in each section. This outline is useful and outline how to run any FRPG campaign fairly well.

Chapter One provides details for character generation giving options and details for playing Humans. Dwarves, Crab Men and Slug Men. The slug men details are very brief (almost absent) but after reading more I realize they would likely work best as a character option for players who have gamed a few sessions in The Yellow City.  Crab-men are a fairly simple race as class with pretty fearsome pincers and a tough carapace but little else yogin for them, they are a good choice for someone who wants to play something different without having to absorb a whole lot of extraneous details.

Chapter Two is the bestiary of the setting providing stats and a brief description of the 40 something pages of monsters (maybe 100?) and how they fit in the campaign, The descriptions are delightfully brief and how they fit in makes more sense after skimming later chapters. There’s a fair amount of icky bugmen, odd races, and squamous things scattered about the bestiary that certainly give it a different look from other settings bestiaries. Here’s the stat line from one creature as example:
HD 3, AC 5, #ATT 2, DMG 1-8/1-6 (bite/tail slap), Move 90 (Swim 150), ML 7, Save As: F3, TT: B
Chapter Three provides The Yellow City and The Topaz Isles. This chapter like the others region chapters isn’t filled with long histories and encyclopedia entires for the region but instead provides the charts and tables for a GM to run adventures and create a campaign in that region.  Charts in this section include: The PC’s Social Circle and further details each such social group in sparse but useful detail. After that we get table to generate Yellow City Personages (NPCS). there are rumors/adventure hooks, random locations, neighborhoods, and surrounding environs detailed in a lsuh variety of tables.  Sample Hex Contents to be placed as th eGM wishes are provided. An interesting subsection in this chapter are exploration guidelines for Adventuring in the Old Town and extensive ruin not far from the Yellow City these provide a means to explore a big place without getting mired down in every 10’ and provides a couple charts to generate sites of interest, treasures, and groups within the ruins.

Chapter Four gives us Lahag and The Hundred Kingdoms a big rambling area of warring petty kingdoms. This chapter is similar but not identical to the previous chapter providing tables to generate a polity within the hundred kingdoms and the issues and a ventures that can flow from them. Lahag is a haunted jungle and adventure details are given for that area following the means to generate that polities of The Hundred Kingdoms.

Chapter Five provides the details for a setting and adventure within Lamarakh and Lower Druk Yul great wild regions meant for exploration and trade. Detaisl are given to generate a boat tribe (or tribes)  and then much is given to generate the lairs of the region(s) similar to earlier chapters (but not in the details).

Chapter Six provides us with Sughd and The Mountains of The Moon a northern land of impenetrable mountains where abandoned dwarves citadels can be delved into, characters can become servants of a local oligarch or map the secrets of this remote and difficult region. Tabels are given to generate a starting oligarchy with it;s associated issues and assets, social circles (as in previous chapters). Tabels are given for remote villages, plantains and monasteries among other locales.

Each of the regional chapters as mentioned above serve to establish the region with a few paragraphs and sets of tables and does so wonderfully. The chapters are similar in arrangement but not identical in content, each region stands out on it’s own as someplace different. While each area is detailed mostly in tables there is still enough to get a GM going on creating adventures and making regions different from each other.

Folowign the previous chapters are extensive appendices that cover Poisons, Opium, Teas, Trade, and more. The appendices do a good job of covering details that may be similar from region to region and serves the GM well by setting these apart and not burying them in one of the region chapters.

There are a few maps provided with a hand drawn map that would serve well as a handout and a hex map of the same area for the GM. These maps are samples however and are more evocative and illustrative than authoritative. Therein lies the charm of this whole book while it opens a number of nearby regions for use by a GM to build RPG adventures within it does so by example and provides the DM with the tools to develop needful features that whiles certainly being within Yoon-Suin do not lock a GM into a specific fixed Yoon-Suin where canon has to be wrestled with and a player can spoil the fun by reading up on details ahead of time. Yoon-Suin is a wonderful work that both describe the setting and provides the tools for the GM to make of it what they will.

I read another reviewer say: Go but this and then read the review, I have to agree and would have bought this weeks earlier if I had the good sense to heed the advice. oh yeah before I forget: the art borders in spartan in overall use but is enjoyable and evocative. This book is well prices for the 320 somehtign pages it delivers as well. If yuo want a great example of a model to build a working camapign, an distant and exotic land to be explored by your friendly local murder-hobos, or a lush campaign to set all your adventures within Yoon-Suin is an excellent choice.

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