Game: Silven Trumpeter 04
Publisher: Silven Crossroads
Review Dated: 12th, November 2003
Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10 [ Really good ]
Total Score: 8
Average Score: 8.00
Bare with me while I try and work out how much value for money this issue of the Silven Trumpeter is. On one hand we’ve a professional looking ezine that’s packed with news, reviews and interviews but on the other hand it is terribly expensive.
Wait a minute.
It’s not expensive at all. The Silven Trumpeter is entirely free. It costs ziltch. Nadda. Dingo. Zip. Nothing. Now that’s value for money!
The Silven Crossroads is the latest success in the RPG fan cottage industry. The site, much like their ezine, is full of news, reviews and forums. If you’ll allow me a moment of hubris, I think I know something about running a fan site of news, reviews and general RPG weirdness. Silven Crossroads are going well and this ezine is proof of that.
Let’s take a peak at what the ezine offers us (although, really, since it’s free you have to wonder why you’re still reading this and not downloading the thing and checking it out for yourself).
We’ve 49 pages of colour. This is a pain if you want to print the whole thing off but it’s not deadly. Not unless your blue ink cartridge explodes. We don’t have any bookmarks in the PDF document or internal hyperlinks – I’d expect that from a professional paid-for PDF but it’s hard to whine too much for a freebie. We do have external, easy to spot, hyperlinks that tempt you with websites from across the RPG spectrum.
Interestingly enough the lead interview for the ezine is one with the famous illustrator Todd Lockwood. That’s an interview worth trumpeting, that’s a big name celebrity and a good interview. It’s interesting because elsewhere in the Trumpeter you’ll find another interview for this chap called Gygax or something. Who the hell is Gary Gygax you ask? I don’t know either but perhaps Silven Crossroads will introduce him to Dungeons & Dragons and get him to tell them what they think of the game.
There’s a flare of history in the Trumpeter. Shane Cubis presents a thorough but precise account of Ned Kelly, the outback outlaw, and tosses in some RPG suggestions into the mix. Sean Holland (of AEG fame) contributes a broader article on the use and inspiration of history and myths for RPGs.
If all this history was beginning to suggest to you that the Silven Trumpeter has something of an academic flavour to it then you may not be surprised to find articles like “Polyglot” or PC (Player Characterization) : The Organic Method. Polyglot is all about the art of gathering information. It’s about in game carousing. Our Organic Method to Player Characterization is all about roleplaying. You know, roleplaying with the LE and not LL.
If you, you at the back, just automatically translated “LE” into Lawful Evil then you’ll be pleased to find that the ezine has d20 stats for a Bridge Wight undead.
The Silven Trumpeter isn’t exclusively d20 though. I think. The regular look at Computer Roleplaying Games (CRPGS) just happens to dwell on the Temple of Elemental Evil and that just happens to be d20. Electronic, intangible and seeded by the microtime on your computer d20s but d20 rolls nonetheless. What’s certain is that the article by Eytan Bernstein as a Gamer’s Guide to Religion could certainly be applied to any RPG and it’s well worth the read.
Oh. Okay. Maybe the Trumpeter struggles as much as the rest of the industry to shake off the d20 dominance – the review section rather cutely uses the d20 ability stats to grade products. They give the 3.5 edition of Dungeons and Dragons a CHA (Look & Feel) of 17, the Campaign Planner a DEX (Organisation) of 12, and the Arcana Unearthed a STR (Physical) of 10 because its made of thick but flimsy stock. Not thick enough, it seems.
In amongst all this it’s easy to miss the quality layout and the excellent artwork. The Silven Trumpeter is a good example why companies will struggle to earn any money on “Please Pay Us” ezines.
It’s not even finished yet. There’s more than art dotted around the ezine – there are sections of top quality fiction. This isn’t fiction filler (although I skipped it and came back to read it later) as the whole ezine manages to have this enthusiastic, fan driven, glow.
A lot of credit must go to the editor Dana Driscoll. A quick Google search turns up a slew of writing credits and beckoning PhDs. Dana chips in throughout the ezine and more than a few articles, the Cartography Corner for example, benefit from her touch.
The Silven Trumpeter really is more than you have any right to expect a free fan supplement to be. In some respects the ezine is simply going through the usual motions and walking well trodden paths – but forget that, concentrate instead on the wash of quality, professional shine and the big zero price tag.