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The World Of Synnibarr — 10 Comments

  1. Thanks again for going to that dark place so we don’t have to 🙂
    I probably shouldn’t ask, but what’s with the midnight sunstone obsession? What is midnight sunstone anyway?

    The best thing about the racoon is how he’s checking his watch – like he has some important place to be with that rocket launcher or something.

  2. I really like the watch; it’s somehow oddly… realistic? I dunno. It’s so mundane in the midst of all this madness.

    Since you asked, I looked up “Midnight Sunstone” in the index. Synnibarr actually has three indexes, which is surprisingly professional. So, +1 for index, +1 for listing monster weights when you have weight-dependent mechanics, -googol (correct spelling!) for everything else.

    “These gems are used to create weapons of pure psionics with organic electronics. The energy they emit is called midnight sunstone energy and it is nearly unstoppable. Created by midnight sunstone drakes and hydras and psisheen mushrooms, this is the hardest substance known.”

    (I think mushrooms were heavily involved in the creation of this game, if you get my drift.)

    So now you know. And knowing is half the battle. GI JOOOEEEE!!!!

  3. what.

    …I’d heard of this game but I never knew just how bad it was. Do we know how old Raven McCracken was when he wrote this? Because it seriously sounds like the Axe Cop of RPGS.

  4. I have Synnibar 2nd edition and it’s companion. It’s not as horrible as people make it out to be. It’s got a gonzo setting (which does not automatically mean evil, folks), and it could have used an editing pass purely devoted to organization and readability (stuff like renaming the surprise classes for when they’re used, as opposed to that non-intuitive way things are now.) Mechanically it seems fairly sound (curse my lack of players) but it’s not a modern game with a laser focus on mechanic reuse and balance scaling. But that’s perfectly fine because it in no way claims to care about those things, and those aren’t the end all and be all of gaming. Some things about the system are prone to abuse but as long as you work out in advance with your players if they are going to go for the loopholes and try to powergame from the outset, or try to to only apply such things reasonably, then I don’t think it would be an issue.

  5. Raven C. S. McCracken is a local guy here in WA, state. I still remember watching a local cable access show (circa 1991 or ’92 I think) about…something (pretty sure it was local heavy metal bands), and there was this advertisement type thing where someone who might have been Raven himself was inviting the viewers to “Come down and buy World of Synnibarr from (some local gaming store).”. I did not do so but I always remembered that because it seemed oddly stuck in between low budget ads featuring macho posing metal heads saying “Come down to the Metal Shop/Practice pads!” or some such crap.

  6. I’m going to try and read the tea leaves of Raven C. S. McCraken here and look for meaning in the meaningless:

    •”Synnabarr” is probably a homophone for “cinnabar,” which is a shade of red. That kind of makes sense if the planet is supposed to be future Mars.
    •I guess the archer class specifically represents a culture of people collectively known as the Archers, rather than just any old dude with a bow.
    •”Earthpower” is probably a reference to the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, a series of fantasy novels that are angsty and grim but also perhaps psychedelic enough to tickle McCracken’s mad fancy.

    • The “Cinnabar” ref. is confirmed in the text; the “Earthpower” might be correct, I could never get into that series despite several efforts. As for “archers”, well, “race=class” was a trope in very early D&D style games, perhaps it carried over.

  7. I once owned the same copy of WoS, but it’s not the original (“1st”) edition that was sold in stores. That came in big, blue three-ring binders (hole-punched pages) with a stamp on the front cover of that “dragon-moth” logo (or whatever-it-is…I believe on the edition you have, the stamp can be found on the back cover). They used to sell this out of local game stores in Seattle, certainly out of the old Games & Gizmos in the University District (before the store became WotC’s flagship store and long before it closed its doors permanently).

    I met Raven (I assume it was him…he introduced himself as the author) on a #7 bus going through the U-District, back in my high school days. This would have been some time circa 1990 or thereabouts. I was probably reading some RPG book, and he introduced himself and asked if I’d be interested in a REALLY AWESOME RPG that he’d just finished writing and was hoping to publish. I took a look but declined (politely)…he seemed VERY enthusiastic about his own product, and I certainly remembered it when I saw the binders for sale later. At the time, it was a little “too D&D” for my tastes, and I was in the midst of my Palladium/White Wolf obsession days…it was also a bit too un-polished compared to the color plates and Bradstreet artwork which was RPG “par” at the time.

    When I saw the “upgraded” cover version (about a decade later) I picked it up; I only wish I’d held onto that copy as I haven’t been able to find it since.

    • Yeah, having some early pre-pro/local distribution copy of a game is a very rare thing. I’ve got one or two “three ring binder” distros of games that eventually came out in more professional form. Even if they’re mostly identical, it’s nice to have something that’s more unique.

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