Thursday, May 26, 2011

AFF: Out of The Pit impression

Out of the Pit, and Titan really, appear to be simple reprints. the text in both is black, the art is a grey seemingly somewhat faded or at least different colored images.  Of note the title page fonts inside are the original fonts and presentation in contrast to the covers fonts.  Which again goes to my point about what's the goal of changing covers and sizes?  Who are you attempting to reach with the product?

While AFF (rightly in my opinion) adds armor and armor rolls to the system, Out of the Pit monster book does not carry this over.  No creature has any armor listed nor does it provide suggested armor, nor armor classes or charts of any kind.  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

It is very clear me that the AFF rules book was sorted through, revised, re-written, and added to, but apparently (for whatever reason) that is where all effort ended.  When you revise a book and system, that revision must carry through for continuity.  For example in AFF in your adventures monsters have armor--in Out of the Pit there is no mention of armor, no charts, no suggestion.  It adheres to the original printing and system which simply assumed armor and did not deal with it as a separate consideration.

In the end the AFF re-release as a whole is a mixed bag.  There are some highlights: magic, armor, dungeon creation, and writing style in the revision.  There are some underwhelming issues though as well: book/cover design and revisions versus reprint incongruity.

I like the AFF system, I like a number of the revisions and additions...but the overall re-design and re-release feels rushed and unprofessional.  If you did not get the original AFF books or are tired of using your own for fear of destruction, then I can recommend these as workable replacements.  If you are new to the system I think you will like what you find.  Either way you are going to have to do some work to get it all to synch up.


Narmer said...

Thanks for the overview. Very helpful. I'll get this eventually I'm sure but not at the priority level I had originally set.

Fenway5 said...

@Narmer-In a nutshell its the same game. What was changed in the AFF rules book was not carried over to all of the other books in the series, and the design (IMHO) was either rushed, poorly executed, or worse...

It's still a good system, but it could have been great.

Anonymous said...

The AFF2 licence has some strange terms. It only allows either reprints or revisions. As such, neither Titan nor Out of the Pit could altered without significant revision, which would have been pointless. As such, the AFF2 rulebook has all the updates for OotP in it. Titan doesn't need any revision as it has little rules content.

Out of the Pit was originally close to the AFF2 size and this size is enforced by most RPG distributors today.

The new covers are to give the new line, which has many more books planned than the original run a united look, something the old couldn't. I would also not be surprised if the old covers were not allowed under licence to avoid confusion with the old books, the same way the old text couldn't be revised in minor ways.

So it is not so much a case of being rushed as it is Arion doing the best with the licence they have. Personally, I am glad to see all of these books on store shelves again, especially as they seem very conscious of both old and new fans.

Fenway5 said...

Thank you very much for shedding light on the license! Yes I can see how that would either constrain or guide production.

I have to disagree though that a OotP revision would be "pointless." Clearly it was worthwhile for the main rule book and the system, and if you change that then everything else related to it should be revised and changed as well. This is necessary to reflect the revisions you find necessary in the core rules. By changing the core AFF rules, you have made all other revisions both necessary and mandatory.

It would be like WotC producing D&D 4th ed PHB and then just reprinting the 1977 monster manual as the monster book. Can they work together? sure. Is it disjointed and odd? yes!

By not following through with fully updating I again default to incomplete, rushed, or potentially unprofessional design. I witnessed questionably design in the AFF rules themselves with the blank page and landscaped character sheet conundrums. If they had waited to release OotP later or the line later how much better could it have been?

As I said previously, even if the old art is not useable, as change is apparently part of the license, then a look alike homage cover would have been great! Certainly people produce digest sized gaming materials still, but I can understand the big book format. I just feel it is opportunity lost.

I have no doubt Arion is doing what they think is best, I am glad to see the books back in print and hope more people explore and enjoy the game.

Seeing the results, you have to ask could it have been done better though?

Thanks for taking time to clarify and provide details I very much appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

I think you are overestimating the level of changes between FF and AFF and underestimating the changes between AD&D1e and D&D4e.

Out of the Pit unchanged was a valuable resource for Dungeoneer, and Dungeoneer actually made more changes (adding attacks and weapons) than AFF2 does (adds armour) to the base FF system. I am confident that OotP remains just as vaulable to AFF2. Possibly more so as AFF2 actually rectifies the hole that Dungeoneer left in this regard (adding attacks and armour in the AFF2 book).

I also think you seem to misundertand what I said about the licence. A mere update of Out of the Pit was not possible. The entire thing would need to have been rewritten if weapon, armour, attacks updates were to be included. That includes the flavour text.

If I had to choose between loosing the classic text as penned by Marc Gascoigne or having to refer to AFF2 to add weapons and armour for each monster (especially as these can change in many changes anyway), I would choose the later by quite a way.

Again, I see this as an astute decision by Arion to cater for both the existing fanbase, whilst still moving the line forward to new fans.

FWIW an Out of the Pit 2 is on the schedule and it will have fully updated rules in it as the licence wont unduly restrict Arion in this regard.

As for the layout issues, I appreciate that everyone will have a different opinion on what looks good and what doesn't. I don't like the look of the blank pages either, but its not a big issue for me.

Fenway5 said...


Actually I do understand (and appreciate) the level of work that goes into a re-write. By stating how much work it is, and thus why it wasn't done (because of how much work it is) you are proving my point.

While the comparison of 1e to 4e may not be a completely literal one (in the case of AFF) it does serve to highlight the incongruity of a decision to remake or revise the central rules of a game, yet leave certain elements untouched.

I do not believe one can simultaneously discuss the need to keep some books untouched due to their greatness, while actively revising other pieces completely? It seems like if the one is so good, why wouldn't you just leave it all alone? If it is so much work to revise, then why would you tackle any of it?

That's my own opinion, and certainly you and Arion games are welcome to theirs. They did the work and stand behind it. I appreciate that. That I do not see it as perfect is my own burden, not yours and not Arion's.

Anonymous said...

The system in Dungeoneer is much loved but commonly agreed to be not a robust RPG system. This isn't even a modern thing. I remember playing AFF when it came out and finding many of the issues to be problematic, such as having essentially a point buys system where each PC randomly rolled how many points they had.

If it were released today it would sell to old fans of AFF but not much more. Given that large book chains don't take RPGs anymore, it wouldn't even access children like Dungeoneer did. So, Arion has revised the rule system so that it would sell to old and new fans in the RPG hobby. I think this makes a lot of sense.

Given that Titan and OotP were well regarded as resources for Dungeoneer, without changes, I imagine that Arion hoped that it would be the same for AFF2. From most other accounts I have seen, that has been the case.

In terms of the D&D comparison, a AD&D1e stat block has only a fraction in common with D&D4e and most of the underlying rules are different. The MM for AD&D1e would have no mechanical utility for D&D4e at all. With FF and AFF1 or AFF2, the only differences are weapons, armour, and attacks. The base underlying stats are the same and the underlying rules are much the same. As such, OotP remains mostly valid as a resource even without the revisions.

FWIW I agree with yoy that having a revised OotP would have been the best choice if it was possible. I am sure Arion agrees too. However, between the two choices that were available Arion made what I consider the right one (and the one that previous AFF designers also thought was the right one).