Sunday, January 6, 2013

The World According to Zorin Greystar

copyright 1984 by V Autumn, S Scherf, and K Autumn

          I have heard lore of strange worlds where adventurers gain experience in finding gold and magic...Zorin Greystar has told me of these places, and of the Masters who control the fates of those who venture there.  He tells me of how he saw the Masters in their wrath.  They sat for hours around a darkened table with numbers covering their parchment...They used magic calculating boxes and many tables and lists while they grumbled.
–Toran, Lord of the Dragonsback Mountains

In 1984, a pair of young men published a 120+ page compilation of their AD&D house rules titled The Complete Works of Zorin Greystar - Book One, “a revolutionary new supplement for expert players and game masters.”  Of course, Dungeons & Dragons is never explicitly mentioned; vague reference is made only to the “Rules of Adventuring...that already govern most adventures” and with which readers must “be well versed.”  However, spell descriptions, thieving abilities, class names, and other terminology leave no doubt as to which rules are being 'supplemented.'  The inclusion of the words “Book One” as part of the title suggests the possibility of additional books given sufficient consumer interest.  Alas, 'Book One' is the only published volume and the reader is faced with a question:  Can this be the complete works of Zorin Greystar if 'Book One' is the only book available?

At the time of publication, the two authors, Steve Scherf and Kellar Autumn, were nineteen and attended UCSC where they taught a class about “fantasy gaming.” (Scherf receives precedence on the cover, but Autumn is listed first on the title page and on the spine.)  Much of the book's charm comes from the art supplied by Kellar's mother, Violeta.

Aside from an introduction, foreward, and a final note, Greystar has five chapters:  The Multiverse, Magic, Experience, Combat, and Spells.  Each part of the book is presented presented by a specific personality (with occasional interruptions by Zorin).  The premise of the entire body of the book is that Zorin Greystar – an archmage who inhabits a “Spherical Castle” in a plane other than the Prime Material – has enlisted various “fellow adventurers” to explain a “New System” to the reader.  Zorin and the others realize that – in the reader's reality – they exist only as characters “in a Fantasy Gamer's imagination.”  Zorin explains how he questioned “the Rules” and “pointed out their incongruities and mistakes” to “the mighty Game Masters.”  Zorin doesn't blame the Game Masters though, he blames “the Books” they use.  Hence, Zorin offers his “New System [that] will let Adventurers and Masters alike have an enjoyable, thrilling, and true adventure.”


copyright 1984 by V Autumn, S Scherf, and K Autumn

At the head of the table, facing the viewer, is the Archmage Greystar. In clockwise order, the other sitters are:  Toran, Talena (High Priestess of the Temple of Rhynon), Obec the Tradesman, 'Lord Moondog,' and Daera (a.k.a. The One-Eyed Sorceress).

Lord Moondog is an adventurer of equivocal morality.  He and the other adventurers are nonchalant about their status as fictional beings.  In the one-page foreward, Lord Moondog offers some insights about his existence as a character:
          I know that [my player] and other players do not take their gaming too seriously and would never let it affect their actions in real life situations.  My player knows that controlling me is a way to vent his inner aggressions and fantasies.  Using me, he uses his intellect and exercises his creative thought.  Although the knowledge sickens me, I accept the fact that he plays characters of a goodly nature when in different moods.  Sometimes I even think he wishes that I might come to an untimely end.
          He wishes in vain however...

copyright 1984 by V Autumn, S Scherf, and K Autumn

8 comments:

  1. LOL. Last year I picked up a copy of this (signed by Steve, no less! ;) ), and was amused by the solidly 1985 game design aesthetics (both in system, and in presentation). That said, there were a few good ideas in there, although I doubt they were worth the $20 I paid once you included shipping ;)

    Allan.

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    1. It makes me wonder what ideas would have been included in a sequel.

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  2. I had never heard of this. Looking forward to more information about it.

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  3. no Thoul, seriously, how did you find this? i never ever heard about it. where did you find mention of it in the first place?

    i am baffled, really.

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    1. I noticed it at Wayne's Books, on the 'Non-TSR AD&D' page.

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  4. are you thinking of a cover-to-cover of this?

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    1. I'm going to write at least two more posts. I want to touch upon each chapter, but I also want to display more of the art.

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