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Ballads of Eldoru (2nd Ed) Cover Scan (c. 2002) by JordanGreywolf Ballads of Eldoru (2nd Ed) Cover Scan (c. 2002) by JordanGreywolf
For the whole story on this, check out JackMann's review on the SomethingAwful forums first, then come back here.  (Warning: some bad language, on account of it being a forum thread.)
forums.somethingawful.com/show…

Quoting from JackMann's review:

[quote]Ballads of Eldoru, by Oscar Merlyn Moffett

Are you ready for dreams to become reality? To face adventures undreamt of? To face challenges that would make lesser men quail?

No? Good, because we're going to review Ballads of Eldoru instead.

Ballads of Eldoru (2nd edition) is an RPG conceived of, written, edited, and published by Oscar Merlyn Moffett in 2003. It is a melding of fantasy and sci-fi adventure, promising Waterdeep meets Star Wars, with fantastic monsters, strange technology and magic, and warriors bearing swords and ray guns. Or it would be, if Moffett hadn't been heartset on making it as boring and clunky as possible.

If you've never heard of Oscar Merlyn Moffett, he used to be semi-infamous in gaming circles. He wrote letters to Dragon under various pseudonyms before getting bits of work here and there on actual RPG products. He finally sank his parents' investment money to fund his own gaming empire, which lasted a total of seven books.

He was a bit of a crank. He believed strongly that there was a true, right way to play roleplaying games, and by god the rest of us were doing it wrong. Especially you. Stop doing that. You're having the wrong kind of fun, drat it!

Ahem. Anyway, after some forgettable "smells-like-D&D" supplements in the 90's, he started coming up with his own systems and settings, starting with Bloodstain (about vampire janitors), through Gadgets and Gargoyles, until finally making Ballads of Eldoru, which was what ultimately caused his company to implode and left him a forgotten relic of the old days of gaming.

As we'll see, there are a number of really clever ideas in the game, and they are all as poorly implemented as possible. At every possible juncture, Moffett dodges letting the players do anything remotely interesting in favor of his high-powered NPCs. Instead, players characters are chained (in some cases literally) in the most boring, uninteresting part of their setting where they can get up to such adventures as fighting low-level bandits, committing warcrimes, and getting in on the lucrative turnip trade.

Tune in next time as we learn what he thinks a roleplaying game is![/quote]

... And in another part of the review, a quote from the author himself, summing up just what a ROLEPLAYING GAME IS: [quote]In a role playing game, or a simulation exercise, you create a structural framework of skills, attributes, hindrances and philosophical facets that you can control in order to best interact with and overcome the formal axioms of the rules construct in order to simulate the workings of a fantasy universe. Your second-order attributes (wealth, level) increase over time giving you greater and greater ability to interact with those axioms in a meaningful way. There is no ultimate goal to this, though your structural framework (or character) may have goals associated with it that you can complete.[/quote] ... In short, this was something SPECIAL. ---------------------------------------- * spoilers * . . . . . . . . . . . . ------------------------------------------ ... Okay, still here? All right. JackMann enlisted me to conjure up the cover art to a fictitious late-1990s-early-Aughts-era RPG book by the name of "Ballas of Eldoru" -- a "heartbreaker" RPG that (in JackMann's imagining) had some worthwhile ideas, but the poor author kept veering away at the last minute every time to turn what could've been a cool fantasy-meets-sci-fi mash-up into a dreary number-crunch exercise with unplayable rules. My amateurish hack-artist skills fit the bill here. I added some frosting to the cake: * Papyrus typeface? CHECK. * Lazy Photoshop chrome effect on the text? CHECK. * "Leather" texture framing device? CHECK. * Obnoxious "Grimtooth's Traps" style "WARNING" label? CHECK. * LENS FLARE? OH, SO MUCH CHECK. And then, I printed it, laminated it, distressed it, added stickers, scanned it back in, digitally edited those same stickers (so they'd match up to the product), and so on, to fit the fiction that JackMann had his hands on a physical copy and scanned it in to share with the forumites so they could share his pain. ;) This was posted on April 1, 2018, you see, and a number of forumites gamely played along. "Ballads of Eldoru" review excerpts © 2018, John Beattie, used with permission. (rpggeek.com/rpgdesigner/65212/…)
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