Monday, December 26, 2011

World Action & Adventure

It seems that OSR bloggers like to post about their 'Christmas swag' so why should your humble host be any different? Via the wonders of Alibris, I acquired the World Action & Adventure trilogy by Gregory L. Kinney. Yes, THAT is how much of a geek I am. I've been (moderately) intrigued by this game since seeing the above ad in Dragon #106. Back in 1985, the time of its publication, neither my interest nor my disposable income were sufficient to actually purchase the game. A quarter of a century later, my disposable income has increased somewhat and I can buy the books for less than cover price.

Kinney touts WA&A as “The Universal System for Realistic Role-Playing.” Although the concept of a universal system wasn't novel in 1985, the execution of such was still in its infancy; GURPS was yet to be published. Kinney's notion of 'universal' does not conform to what is usually meant as 'universal' in a role-playing sense; that's because WA&A is realistic. Yes, your humble host has excoriated 'realism' in RPGs, but only when 'realism' is forced upon the fantasy milieu. WA&A is universal only to the extent Kinney intends for it to simulate any historical or current setting in the real world. Extremely little provision is given for situations that could not reasonably be encountered in everyday existence.

So, WA&A is realistic in that it is supposed to represent the real world. It also contains a boatload of 'real world' information. However, the realism of the rules system is debatable; in addition to absorbing some degree of damage, armor makes a character more difficult to hit. Doubtless, Kinney's notion of RPG realism is heavily influenced by D&D; he even lists the Gygaxian array of pole arms. Kinney does go into detail but he manages to avoid the sort of convoluted mathematics that afflicts some systems. We will examine WA&A more thoroughly in later posts. For now, let me say that I am not disappointed in my purchase. The Animal Combat Table includes a line for “Spit (Camel).” How awesome is that? The SRD camel description doesn't mention spit at all. WA&A can sit back with a smirk on its face and say, “Camel spit? We got that covered.”

WA&A is not a great RPG, but it is playable. The production quality is less than perfect, but it puts The Realms of Atlantasia to shame (although that's not saying much). It seems that Kinney received fifteen units of college credit for his WA&A books. Any geek can write a role-playing game, but how many can get an institute of higher learning to give them credit for it?

One wonders whatever became of Kinney. The only definite reference I found is this. Alas, his attempts at being a screenwriter did not meet with success if his lack of an IMDB listing is any indicator. (I mean, even Alexis has an IMDB listing.) This is not surprising given his script ideas. A more cruel blogger would ridicule some of these ideas, but I just don't have the heart.

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