I’ve reviewed a lot of things on this blog: Books, maps, cards, even music. But one thing has remained consistent: Most of those reviews have been positive. (Street Fighter isn’t a review, also I don’t hate that game, it just hurt my eyes. A lot.)
The reason for this is simple: I had yet to find anything I actually hated. That changes today.
Enter Green Races from Fast Forward Entertainment. Purchased cheap (Thank God!) due to Paizo’s Black Friday sale, the description was somewhat deceptive, as it read for all the world like a supplement detailing what they called the “Green Races” (Goblins, orcs, trolls, ogres, a fairly standard collection of demi-humans), but wound up being a campaign setting involving a wild and untamed region, dominated solely by evil beings.
And I hate this book. I hate it so much that I didn’t even want to review it, as that would mean reading it, and every page I turn makes me hate myself just a little more. And at over 200 pages, that’s A LOT of hate, my friends, a lot of hate indeed.
You’re probably already asking “Why? Why does he hate this book so much?”
Well, I’ll start with the basics. First off, it’s ugly. The interior has grey backgrounds on every page, making the black text somewhat harder to read than it really ought to be. The art ranges from bland to downright hideous. The maps are really amateur and, like the text, are hard to read.
Then we get the text. Sweet Tapdancing Christ the text. Oh the FONT is fine, it appears to be a Times New Roman variant. But the actual text is a miserable jumble of words, as this book feels like it didn’t have much in the way of a quality control step. Typoes abound, and cringeworthy sentences dominate the landscape.
All this would be excusable if what’s inside is worthwhile.
A piece of advice I give to most writers who ask me is “Clichés are not bad. Boring clichés are bad. So, don’t be boring.” Green Races is ridden with clichés, which I am not angry about. Indeed, I was kind of expecting it, what of a book that has orcs, ogres, trolls, drow, goblins (lots of them), gnolls and so on. But where this book becomes utterly inexcusable is in its tendency to be boring and uninspired in almost every aspect.
Just about the only race writeup that is worth the paper it took to print it is the Gnoll section. The Gnolls are presented as a race of beastmen, make no mistake, but they have an odd pseudo-religion wherein they worship the moon, which they believe also exists in the water due to its reflection. Thus, they make the majority of their offerings to it there, believing “she” needs to be fed (a process they explain through the phases of the moon). This is a good idea. So good, in fact, that I wonder idly who FFE stole it from, as I am not at all convinced they could have invented it themselves.
Otherwise, the races are what you’d expect: Goblins are weak, Ogres are dumb, Trolls are mean, and so on. Why would anyone want to play in such an abysmally lawless and brutal area? I mean, yes, I know I had thoughts about a D&D game where the players are monsters and they build dungeons and such, but I’m sure it’d be a damn sight better than this.
The crunch, apparently standard for FFE products, is useless. The Prestige Classes are underpowered and poorly thought out, the stat blocks demonstrate shaky (at best) knowledge of the system, and so on. There’s literally nothing here.
(As an aside, mostly because I can’t think of anywhere else to put it, there’s a “neutral” faction run by a demon called Azazel, but the picture is actually of Buer, an entirely different demon…)
For years, I wondered why the OGL got so much hate. I wondered why people were made so upset by an agreement that allowed for third-party products. I pondered how you could ever hate a field that gave us such standout companies as Necromancer Games, Goodman Games, Green Ronin, Sword & Sorcery, and more.
Well, now I know: Such people were probably reading books by Fast Forward Entertainment. This has the dubious honor of being the worst book I have ever reviewed, it is the worst book I own, the worst book I have EVER owned, and I would set it on fire, if doing so simply were not against my principles.
Fast Forward Entertainment is a relic of the bad side of open source content: If anyone can make a product, anyone will. It doesn’t make you appreciate TSR’s draconic policies any more, but it somewhat helps in understanding where they came from…