Friday, October 22, 2010

Sayonara To Synnibarr

My copy of The World Of Synnibarr is off to Andreas Davour of The Omnipotent Eye.

I have mixed emotions about Synnibarr's departure. At 475 pages, it is far too long to qualify as a game of imagination, since that many pages of rules and setting sucks the imagination out of any game.

Instead, it is better thought of as a historical document, representing the imagined universe of Raven c.s. McCracken, flawed though that universe may be.

Still, letting go is hard to do, as Synnibarr is a signpost in the history of role-playing games.

Admittedly, that signpost is buried deep in a dark and boggy valley. Raven's own personal history is also rather storied, which is why i'm hesitant to throw any large rocks at him, or his game.

But both the World Of Synnibarr role-playing game, and most of the accompanying art, is pretty mediocre.

There seems to be little that is novel, either in the game design or in alternate visions represented by the artwork.

But before letting Synnibarr go, I thought I would capture the best of the artwork to share with my readers. Others have highlighted the worst of the worst when it comes to Synnibarr artwork, so there's no need to cover that ground again.

Below is my favorite illustration from Synnibarr, and it is so incongruous, next to the rest of the artwork, to merit special consideration.

The illustration shows to combatants, locked in battle, in what appears to be a very conan-esque scene. The illustration is out-of-place for two reasons: one, this is a highly visceral, raw, action-packed illustration, with a great deal of motion and emotion. You can almost hear the scream of the axe-wielding warrior, the sing of the other warriors blade, the crash of sword against shield. This illustration is out of place, as the rest of the artwork in Synnibarr is overwhelmingly static or science-fiction-y.

Two, I have seen little in Synnibarr to suggest that it is a swords & sorcery role-playing game. I'd love to know which of the stable of credited Synnibarr artists produced this: it is one of the few pieces of Synnibarr art that I truly love.

Here's another piece of art from Synnibarr that also warrants recognition.

I call this illustration two moons (in reference to the two moons in the sky, and not for some other less tasteful reason). It shows two Amazons, being surprised by a black panther. This illustration is notable for the same reason as the other illustration, in that it has a very ancient greek vibe to it, which is not in fitting with the assumed setting of Synnibarr, which is a planet/spaceship, includes modern weapons and science fantasy and super powers. This illustration also possesses some interesting energy, as if the two Amazons have been caught quite unawares by this large cat.

There you have it. The above are, in my opinion, the only notable illustrations in the World of Synnibarr game book.


migellito said...

Ah, the two linked 'reviews' were wonderful! I haven't laughed so much in a long time. Which is perhaps sad, but thank you, nonetheless.

Will Mistretta said...

The Player's Guide is worth picking up, too.

The equipment list includes a special kind of house paint (the brand name is Solstice) specifically designed to prevent psi-elves from climbing up the side of buildings with their Spiderman-like wall scaling powers.

My wife and I still periodically reference Solstice brand anti-elf sticking paint. Ask for it by name at a fine hardware store near you.

And that's just one example of the Synnigoodness.

Vault keeper said...

I'm fascinated by Synnibar :)

I own it but i still haven't read it

shimrod said...

"Solstice brand"? Is there also an NPC or god mentioned in the supplement of that name?

Paladin- Nice choices! There are a few incongruously good pieces of art amidst the junk.

anarchist said...

From what I've read about Synnibar, the setting, system and artwork all seem more superhero than fantasy to me. Maybe it would've been a better game if Raven had started from Marvel Superheroes rather than AD&D?

anarchist said...

That Conanesque picture looks like a Frank Frazetta composition to me.

Kelly said...

Raven now has a new official author website: where you can see what he's been up to. In January 2011, he published a horror/dark fantasy/sci fi collection entitled I EAT BUTTERFLIES: Tales of Vampires, Mages & Mutants on Amazon Kindle and a paperback edition at (His upcoming book, Fate's Portfolio, is expected to have a Synnibarr-based story in it.)

anarchist said...

Can't wait! Now I have a shot at being the second-least successful self-published author, rather than the least.

anarchist said...

I finally found the Frazetta picture I was thinking of (see my comment from 2010 above).

It's here. The Synnibar picture isn't as much of a direct rip-off as I thought.