Friday, June 21, 2019

Filler Art Post

I finally got a tablet a week or so ago so you can expect much more frequent arts now that each scribble need not be paid for in carpal tunnel from clutching my mouse in a deathgrip, and y'all can be shown't & tell'd!
Everyone warns of the moons, of course, chased by the New Sun to
out there beyond the Noonlands, listing the effects of their lightborne will,
strategizing how to benefit from or neutralize their effects, and hypothesizing unlikely celestial conjunctions.
Or they warn of the curious and infinitely varied beings of the vast Moonlands, many of whom proved most reasonable...
...though some did not.
But none had spoke of the time between moons, where the darkness writhes in hues of nameless night.
Moon or Sun, I cannot see past their light. Is this the Dark I see, or only shadow?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Conflicting Visions of 'The Fighter'

The 'Fighter' exists in many different headspaces for me. The WotC notion is typically to split the fighter into Barbarians and Swashbucklers and Rangers and Monks and so on, but the more classes you have, the more you're saying 'your character can't do that thing in the fiction because an entirely arbitrary metagame class is required.' It's one thing to say 'your character can't do a whirlwind strike and decapitate 8 mounted knights at once because I'm trying to keep power levels low and that's not an option' (though with such limits I expect clerics and wizards will become far more popular) but quite another to say 'you can't do a whirlwind strike and CAN NEVER DO a whirlwind strike because you're in the wrong fighter sub-class.'

Just flesh and steel, someday to be bones and rust, with no authorial intent to save them from inevitable death
Fighters have no particular abilities save having more HP and better to-hit than other humans (but not monsters). They have AC 17 and a d8 attack not because this will let them defeat monsters easily, but to showcase just how terrible an idea it is to fight monsters fairly in the first place. They can survive what slays others, and they can hold the line just long enough for the others to get things done. With some +X swords and armor and good hp rolls, they can remain useful in combat at higher levels. But really, the point is to think beyond the character sheet, because the character sheet has no answers beyond an unfavorable 'I guess you can try to fight the monster..."

Thoughts that stem from this are as follows-
  • Trap Option- The obvious first problem becomes 'nobody will play a fighter*.' If fighting sucks, well, let's all be Magic-User/Thieves casting Charm and Sleep and Invisibility and enjoy being able to sprint and climb and swim and sneak and if the reaction tables are used RAW unavoidable fights will be incredibly rare, so why be a fighter at all?
    People might play fighters anyway, you never know
  • Swords Suck- Why waste those bonuses to hit on rubbish like melee combat when you can swagger around with a torch and a bandolier of molotovs? You are le grenadier, and no longer will damage over time and crowd control be the domain of wizardry! Or perhaps grappling rules are forgiving, and becoming some sort of iron-clad sumo wrestler allows you to stunlock and debuff enemies while your friends slap the enemies with their daggers or whatever. This is quite system dependent, of course, but in BFRPG molotovs and grappling and wardogs tend to be considerably better than sword-slapping, a paradigm of combat that I can't say I hate, but is neither what anyone really pictures when they imagine 'fighter' nor is it particularly class-exclusive, so if niche protection is a concern this further erodes the fighter having anything going for them.
There is one thing even the most barebones fighter tends to acquire, however...


The fighter establishes a keep at level 9 or so, and the idea of the Fighter as 'the leader,' even before that point is a concept that seems to have some genre momentum to it. And it makes sense too- hirelings can trust the slow, armored fighter probably will fight to protect them instead of sprinting away at the first sign of trouble like the thief, no religious hangups like the cleric, and no skeevy consorting with forbidden powers and unethical spell-use like the wizard. But then...
  • Humans Suck- 'master of minions' is both not fighter exclusive, and worse yet, fighters seem to get the worst minions. Clerics and Wizards get undead and monsters to command around, and having a charmed dragon at Wizard 7 makes '3d20 level 0 human infantry' seem a lot less cool. And a full army just means
  • Being King Is Perpendicular To Adventure A fighter whose strength is a bunch of high morale NPC hirelings is both a pain to keep track of, and the more their men do, the less impact their personal presence has, until they're practically an NPC themselves, just a source of orders for the mass of mercenaries and retainers, sending companies of horsemen hither and yon, hither and yon, but probably not into a dungeon lest it result in a wraith-splosion of undead conversion or similar awfulness.
  • Game of Thrones Sucks- But okay, lets say you clawed your way up to 'domain level' and now officiate skirmishes between your troops and wicked barons and feud for control of resource-rich legions and try to arrange marriages to nobles and so on and it's real proper Domain Level™ adventures, but
    That's probably not what anyone signed up for and was hype about if you started as a beer-n-pretzels hex/dungeoncrawler. I'm sure some groups have survived the transition, but in my experience, interest in building castles and managing mini-kingdoms quickly withers after initial interest dies down and people realize they're playing for personal stakes and problem-solving and roleplaying and the entire rulebook is based on spells and gear and monsters, not officiating bureaucracy and social engineering. But I'm getting on a tangent away from fighters specifically, and worse yet, a tangent in which my experience is limited anyway.
So if you don't want to drown the fighter in a sea of mediocre NPCs, the next impulse is to make 'em awesome, at which point you end up at
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, in case you didn't know
if you didn't know never speak to me again you ignoramus churl
The modern route, where (in 3.5/pf parlance) you crack open the Book of Weeaboo Fightan Magic Book of Nine Swords and start giving the fighter super-powers. The first inklings of this are in the oldschool fighter ability to strike 1hd(or less) enemies with 1 attack per level they have, and later just getting extra secondary attacks at higher levels, or maybe weapon specialization. Issues immediately arise when trying this in OSR because
  • When All You Have is A Hammer... So if you have mastered the Five Point Exploding Heart Palm, when confronted with problems, you are naturally inclined to consider solving those problem with the FPEHP. And the more cool fightan powers the fighter has, the more the idea that the game is about cool kung fu action becomes prominent, and, at least in my mind, while combat is certainly an important tool, it is absolutely not the point of playing in OSR style. I believe that combat in OSR is thrilling because the stakes are high and unpredictable, not because RPG games are all that good at simulating the spectacle of an action movie or mathematical optimization like a videogame.
  • Whose Genre Is It Anyway- One of my secret kung fu techniques floating around the world is the Void Cut, where warriors can slap people 30' feet away with anime-esque slashes of wind or vacuum or blood flicked off the blade or ground-pounds with hammers or whatever. Mechanically speaking, this is pretty equivalent to just having a single volley of thrown javelins, and probably inferior to a molotov.  Perhaps a more mundane description (quickdraw daggers) might be more appropriate to keep the tone gritty and dangerous. But maybe it's a good thing to give fighters these abilities to feel like badasses. But tone and immersion are important for keeping people invested and 'on the same page'
  •  Everyone is Wizards- On the one hand there's a nice equivalency to having fighters who roam the world collecting secret techniques just like a wizard collects spells. On the other hand, there is a little bit of, well...

Being able to kill someone by stabbing their shadow or whatever, is, in my opinion, less cool when it's not a one-of-a-kind weirdness

Leaning far, far into GM fiat and narrativist rather than abstract combat, could be a fighter who can defeat a giant with a rusty spoon at level 1 by incredibly detailed descriptions of combat. Like
GM- The giant raises his club above his head...
I scramble a little left, so the raised club tracking my movements will be caught in the rafters!
GM- Ok, the giant's attack fails this round.

Or a more in-depth example
GM- The dragon leaves its lair, scaled belly dragging across the ground as it approaches the goat you tied up...
Player- And when it slides over the concealed pit trap that I'm hiding in, I strike with my poisoned spear up into its belly
GM- Roll damage, you've hit automatically, and the beast must take a round to reposition itself so its claws and jaws might reach you
Player- While its turning around, I leap from the pit and seize the tail so it can't attack me without menacing its own tail, and whistle for my attack dogs to rush from the nearby forest to help harry its flanks. They should buy me time to climb the beast's back and attack its wings to prevent it flying away, and after that, its eyes are next, all the while it bleeds from its belly wound and...
Finding where to draw the line for stuff like this can make combat interesting in a storygamey narrative sense and break away from 'I roll to hit' 'Goblin A rolls to hit' 'I roll to hit.' But at a certain level of fiat, you're just playing pretend, and victories no longer feel earned. The fiction is exposed as nothing but idle whimsy and immersion and emotional investment plummets.
This breaking of the facade is why people tend to dislike 'It was all a dream!' endings- not because a fictional dream is any more fictional than a fictional adventure, but because it calls out the absurdity of caring about fictive people and places, and by calling it out, it belittles the real emotions that the false world created.

IN CONCLUSIONclasses🤔🤔🤔 more like asses lmao😹😹😹, tl;dr light ur bad and dumb class-based sys.//T3M on fire & run Die Trying instead B-cuz D&D is 👏c a n c e l e d👏 'k bye

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Sunset Realms Geneva Conventions

Having had a conversation about this sort of thing, I realized 'hey I actually do have some of these'
So if you're sick to death of worldbuildy campaign notes just go click a cooler looking post on the blogroll

The default assumptions of locales are in Mercia and its offshoot city-states, the triumvirate lands of Queen's Coast, Kings Point, and Prince's Spit, and the beast-haunted realm of Vint-Savoth, with the  disparate Beast Islands, sandy and ancient Saresare, and war-torn Yuba being most likely to have regional differences.

That said, much of the setting is lawless wilderness and ruin. The strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must. But kings and adventurers alike would do well to recall- when people strive to dominate each other with cruelty instead of uniting in friendship, the things beyond the reach of light and law stir, and lick their unspeakable lip-analogues in anticipation.
"Empires built on blood end with sharks" -Beast Islander saying
The Oath of the Skull
Battles shall be overseen by an order of Gravekeepers, clad in patchwork garb of colors of all involved parties, who shall be free to recover bodies and return them to the appropriate side, lest the dread Skull Moon rise and reanimate the unburied dead. Impersonating a Gravekeeper in wartime is a crime worthy of death.
Similarly, actual Gravekeepers who take sides in political conflict lose their 'immunity.'

In Saresare, there are no Gravekeepers, only the Vulch, the somber scavenging vulture-folk, sacred and pariah, who devour the dead, sooth their souls, and fly corpses abandoned in the desert to grave-trees before they are taken by dread Skull.

In Yuba, the Gravekeepers are also priests of the Jackal God, the Heart-Eaters, who seek to take hearts from the dead before disposing of them and are unfazed by the occasional revenant seeking to defend or avenge their hearts.

In the Beast Islands, pretty much all war is exclusively nautical and corpses consigned to the briny deep will be beyond Skull's influence mostly.
mostly(insert hideous cackling from behind GM's screen here)

The Oath of the Sun
Any monsters capable of 'spawn cascades' (examples-green slime, lycanthropes, vampires) are forbidden from the battlefield (and everywhere, really) as well as anything else thought to threaten the power of the Sun or humanity at large. Those who utilize such beings or fell powers are referred to as 'Dark Lords' or 'Moon Mad' or 'Yubans' (regardless of actual relation to darkness or moonlight or Yuba, it's just an example of humies lumping together disparate concepts into a single notion of 'the enemy') and can expect every sunlit realm of law to forsake them once word gets out. This is a (relatively) new concept was not always the case, and is why Yuba is such a heck-hole these days and why the Witch-Alf war was so totally out of hand.

In Saresare, this is simply one of many precepts of The Law which exists to provide social cohesion for humanity in the face of annihilating chaos, for while the Law is always around, the same cannot be said of the sun. Saresarens look upon Moonspawn and Darkspawn more fairly than most, for rather than judging the various creatures from beyond the sun by their cosmological light-origin, they judge them by their ability to follow laws and become upstanding citizens. Moons are not particularly subtle entities, nor are their spawn, so the problem of 'apparently law abiding but secretly evil' creatures is not a concern that has much merit to it.

In Yuba this doesn't apply because there's horrible monsters everywhere, especially in governmental positions, and the Yuban people are like 'bite the sun' anyway because they suffered under the 4th sun Riikhus and the 5th sun Helios doesn't even reach the Yuban heartland so Yuba is both in the moonlands, and more favorably inclined towards Moonspawn since the hordes of moon beasts vanquished Mercian and Saresaren occupiers in the intersolar period and accidentally helped Yuba become free again.

The God/Sun/Queen/King/Prince/Hunter/Captain/Qadi/Jackal's Mercy 

Named based on whatever central body holds the monopoly of violence state's authority in a land, this is a tenet of society that allows people to plead for mercy from individuals in the name of social cohesion. Essentially, it is a pledge to serve either the one who defeated them, or the community they have wronged, for a year and a day, to make up for their opposition (and serve as replacement characters/retainers, of course)
This is a serious oath to swear, and to accept, and even to refuse, for breaking or refusing it means that those aware of your traitorous/unmerciful ways will never surrender to you, nor accept your surrender, and then you've got 6 morale bandits fighting to the death like berserkers because they expect no mercy from Sir Smitesalot. This goes both ways- a bandit who murdered someone he surrendered to is viewed as irredeemable scum, and an entire settlement that refused to give someone a chance can be branded as a guillotine-happy bunch and stricken from the records of the Tourist's Guild. Naturally, the chance of mercy and the stigma of refusing to grant mercy changes with severity of crime and public opinion.

In Saresare people get very poetic and say things like 'I am your slave!' and 'My life is yours!' but you gotta realize that hyperbole is a whole cultural thing there- it's like when you arrive at a city and the King is like 'visitor i have literally never seen before I shall grant you ONE WISH' and you're supposed to wish for something reasonable that the king can give you to show off their own wealth and munificence without actually straining their hospitality, not be all 'I wish for infinite genies' it's not that  kinda wish though I see how you could have gotten confused on account of the distribution of Ifrit on the wandering encounter tables

In the Beast Islands you always have to swear to serve the captain of whoever got you to surrender, which cuts down on piratical mutinies a little at least and gives ships a good rotating cast of scurvy sea dogs. In the absence of a captain you can always swear to serve the home island of whoever defeated you instead of them directly, but you still gotta serve them until such point as you reach that home island, so it's less of a cop-out as you might hope. Some people will let you swear to serve a ship instead of the captain, cuz people do get attached to the things.

In Yuba it's always acceptable to eat your heart instead and you don't get to complain because it's a bit of an honor to be symbolically devoured by the Jackal-God and ensures you a good afterlife/reincarnation gig so long as you like dogs. But yeah, the heart-eating thing is why Yuba was the punching bag of Saresare and Mercia in the age of the Tyrant Sun-God Riikhus. Mercia was mad because noble POWs were sacrificed instead of ransomed, Saresare was mad because the Jackal God was given precedence over mortal Law, just, a diplomatic disaster that turned into crusade to enslave the Jackal God that turned into proxy wars between Saresare and Mercia with Yuba as ground zero that turned into a rogue-agent wizard cold war in the intersolar period between Riikhus and Helios and just, wewza, it was a mess, an absolute mess

I await the day someone is like 'Hey isn't your Jackal-God just Anubis' and then I will reveal my hideous true form of a backpfeifengesicht mythology nerd and be like 'akshually he's based on Wepwawet, you've probably never heard of him' and then i'll be given a wedgie
This picture is totally Anubis + Ammit tho

The Sanctity of the Soul
 Life and death work a little differently in this universe compared to real life. Torching people with fireballs isn't a disgusting war-crime because, well, souls can vacate a body at any time, so people can nope out of painful situations and carry on to the merry afterlife if they decide a body is too painful to live in. Souls and afterlives objectively exist, and can interact with the living (with effort) so murder and pain are of less moral hideousness (from my perspective, at least). That said, there is a connection between the physical and the immaterial, so corpse-mutilation and tomb-robbing are viewed pretty much equivalent to property damage to someone's house.

But souls can be destroyed (or at least the light-soul can be. Scholars are divided on whether the shadow-soul persists eternally in the unknowable Darkness of the world, like a hollow mold waiting to be filled with light and reform). Heleognostic quibbling aside, anything that threatens to trap, destroy, corrupt, etc the soul is super bad news, double-plus forbidden, the living and the dead uniting against the unthinkable horrors of oblivion. (Void Monks will swiftly point out the error in fearing oblivion- after all, you do not fear the years before your existence- why fear nonexistence afterwards?)  Fortunately, things that threaten the soul are pretty rare. Undead that seemingly corrupt or devour souls are really probably just inflicting enough pain to cause a soul to give up on a body, then filling the empty vessel with a fragment of their own soul, obedient to the larger whole, or calling in a disease-spirit or something


Saresare has its own stock of mortal psychopomps in the form of the Vulch, and their dead, sung lullabies by the vulture-folk, are among the most peaceful in all the world... but also the most prone to succumbing to Nightmare due to a psychic undertow that afflicts the desert for reasons likely celestial in origin.

The Skeleton War Truce
 Some people don't have a community afterlife their souls fit nicely into. No gods, no close friends, no dream-world necropolis reflection of a city-state that they have default dual-citizenship for, not even the willingness to subside into a personal solipsistic dreamworld of their own making. Or maybe they could have these things, but they're just too darn stubborn to stay dead (these sorts of undead that rise out of sheer force of will are called Revenants and are low on wacky powers but high on sheer unkillability) Those people are probably gonna end up in the Skeleton War sooner or later, which is where all the skeletons(and ghosts once the elements eventually reclaim the bones) of people with nowhere else to go end up. Bones and shades in the bowels of the earth, scheming and sneaking and carrying on, eyeballing juicy afterlives and mortal affairs like bandits eye juicy but impregnable townships. A thousand ages of vertebrates all mixed up together, every one of them probably a bit of a jerk on account of having nowhere else that will take them, but also being too materialistic to give up on the physical world and not self-actualized enough to create their own dream-realm afterlife.
Dubious speculation on the character of skeletons aside, the truce between the living and dead is thusly- the living do not begrudge the occasional skeleton war recruiter poking around(you can tell one by the silly hat and trumpet), nor do they interfere with netherworld politics, and the dead do not constantly rise to continue to interfere with the politics of the living.

Mercian Ban on Gunpowder and Clockwork
Pushed by dwarf lobbyists, Mercia does not permit anyone but dwarves to utilize these technologies. Possible reasons for this include
  1. Anti-Dwarf Conspiracy-The bastardly mole-men wish to maintain absolute technological superiority and unassailable position, and gunpowder bombs are the only thing that could breach their mountain homes. They'll sit back and wait until Mercia is weak, distracted with newfangled frivolities like fireworks and watches, then bam! They'll emerge from below and take it all from us!
  2. Dwarf Official Stance- Ye humans and yer endless wars aren't responsible enough to be trusted with the dangers of the technology, or the cruel destruction it would enable ye to visit upon yourselves over whatever daftness causes you to war among your own kind.We assist what causes are worthy of our assistance, and you should question your own actions before questioning ours.
  3. Human Nobles Official Stance- It's obvious the dwarves are dealing with troubles of their own deep in depths of stonefast three and need to hoard their most powerful tools. Yet despite this, they have deployed their clerics, war machines, and armaments when the need has come. Besides, guns ARE too dangerous to be entrusted to the masses- just look at the rest of the world, where no noble knights keep the peace, because pirates with cannon and pistol run rampant! Not to mention if Saresarens love rifles, it's practically patriotic to avoid their use at this point.
  4. The Clockmen Conspiracy-  Guns guns guns, that's all everyone thinks about! The real secret is in clockwork! It's unnatural! Probably Alvish! Metal was meant to be wielded by man, not wield itself! Vint has had that giant clocktower for decades and their land is as cursed as Yuba!
    (This author would like to note that Vint-Savoth is cursed due to being the grave of the Blood Moon, which perished in the recent intersolar period and if anything, the clocktower is a beacon for justice-loving vigilantes)
Gunpowder is of great popularity in Saresare, which has more alchemists than it does wizards, and no dwarves to naysay the stuff. Being somewhat poor in metals, Saresare has opted to have musket and pistol armed light cavalry and shoot what little metal they have at the heavily armored knights of Mercia, and has had great success with sappers and smokebombs. Some dwarves fear Saresaren conquest of Mercia and subsequent threatening of the mountain fortresses and actively participate in human wars with the hopes of suppressing the tech, which is normally most un-dwarflike.

The Beast Islands are also quite fond of gunpowder, and create large cannons that are superior to the normal armaments of warships (mounted ballistae and war-wizards). Beast Islander pirates are mostly unbeatable, nautically speaking, save for the similarly armed boats of  Queen's Coast, King's Point, and Prince's Spit, who have metal reserves comparable to Mercia but no reservations about having heavily armored knights AND cannon.

Vint-Savoth has seized every advantage it can to resist the scourge of beasts that spring forth from the corpse of the Blood Moon, and has clockwork and gunpowder gizmos and weaponry that rival the works of the dwarves themselves, though only in a specialized beast-slaying sense.

Yuba does not much care for guns on account of having great faith in filling ones hand with war-dog leashes, seeing guns, swords, and plate-mail as 'tools of the oppressors,' and finally of valuing stealth greatly in their dark and jungly land wracked by monsters.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Latenite Thoughts on Ynn

So Castle Nowhere has had 8 sessions so far. Most sessions have been The Gardens of Ynn material, but I've been running it all adapted to my setting so here's a quick rundown to keep in mind.
  1. The gardens are not extraplanar, but the accursed grounds of a decadent noble's estate that time-loop and shuffle every 3 days. This means that they are both perhaps more open to simply 'skipping' points of interest and delving deep immediately, and have a more permeable barrier between the Gardens and the 'outside world.' They are the liminal zone of the megadungeon of the campaign, and as such are being heavily delved into, almost every single session, rather than occasionally visited between other things.
  2. The place has no day-night cycle, only the eternal leering light of a Moon. 
  3. The random encounter tables have also been heavily mixed up, the main change being that it is jam packed full of time-trapped servants who have grown surly and revolutionary, and nobles who have grown decadent and bizarre after 30 years of being trapped in a 3 day time loop. The place is more human and less monstrous(but, as we all know, man iz de real monshta)
  4. Due to said time loop, routes through the place are not necessarily immediately reshuffled, but typically are, between sessions. Points of interest can be found again, if the players have a plan- random wandering has like a 1/400 chance of finding somewhere again.
So bear in mind that my thoughts are derived not wholly from the original Ynn, but from the Ynn as rewoven by me
yeah there's like a web of towers that are a different dungeon and it's in the moonlands so my Ynn is not the Ynn and it won't
be your Ynn

I think it’s easy for games to push in darker directions, and to match the unpredictable lethality of old-school games with a particular grim and gritty aesthetic. I wanted to move away from that, into something that, while not blandly pleasant, had a lightness of tone to it. A setting where sunshine is the de-fault weather. -Emmy Allen

 Hear hear, hear hear. I slide into the grim and grit myself constantly, sometimes in response to the players being murderhobos, sometimes simply because I suckle too greedily from the teat of nightmare, so I think this is a good sentiment to bear in mind. As an aside, this post is great and relevant to this notion. Anyway. Other points made in the intro is that the author thinks its not deep enough to be the focus of an entire campaign, but is good to bolt on to other campaigns as a side dungeon. I agree there, even though I went about it weirdly. With the 'canon' methods of entering Ynn, the place is very easy to visit.

Also noted is that it's probably a bit lethal for level 1 players, and not supportive of level 9ish players, with 3-5 being the sweet spot. So far my level 1 hobo squads have been just fine, but I did swap out a lot of 'beast' encounters for humans (though really, shouldn't you be able to talk to beasts in romantic fantasy?) so that may have reduced lethality. And I have a lot of fairly savvy osr players. And I use the BFRPG reaction tables rather than strictly adhering to the 'events' that may indicate hostility of encounters.
BUT THAT ASIDE, I would say, 's not THAT lethal... assuming the players are in the mindset of 'you don't gotta fight the monsters' and aren't straight outta Skyrim and Adventure League and of the belief that they are invincible fated badasses sure to defeat all level-appropriate obstacles. Anywho.

Rumors are lovely, but I didn't use 'em due to the setting being different. I have a bit of a similar 'time limit' for exploration as default Ynn, but the players are too low level for that to be too much of an issue at the moment. My version is also less likely to get players 'stuck' in Ynn but I like the idea. I do think the day/night encounters could have been significantly different rather than just a few changes, but I can't talk much cuz I jammed them together and then changed the resulting table anyway.

The locations are lovely, and interesting, and I can't wait to stop rolling orchards aaaaaaa. Some are more interesting than others, which is good because of the empty room principle, but can be bad if you roll a lot in a row but them's the breaks with random tables, and you can't blame RNG when you the GM have executive authority to make stuff up in defiance of what the dice say. Anywho, in addition to the locations, they each have additional details that can really differentiate them, and then when an event happens that spices things up further still. One trick of design that has worked well is the events table- when the players are interested, even in 'uninteresting things,' interesting things continue happening, rather than it solely being monsters drawn by the players 'wasting time.' They're easy to ignore if they'd spoil the fun or overcomplicate an already complicated area (after a certain number of secret staircases, I decided to hold off on creating more until the players actually went through one). Such GM fiat in adjudicating random tables is classic gming stuff, and I think experienced GMs will get a kick out of flexing their brains with the content, and inexperienced GMs will quickly learn the pleasures of using random tables rather than trying to shoulder all creative cognitive loads themselves.

Treasure-wise, it's not great for sheer gp-to-xp coinage hauls, but the treasures have a lot of charming little baubles that are very good for lateral thinking. (I would have personally placed the treasure tables immediately after the rest of the random tables, formatting wise, but that's a minor quibble.)

The monsters, though there are loads of good ones, have a distribution of 'types' that I feel leans too heavily towards constructs and animals, which do not lend themselves too well towards factional play. On the one hand, since Ynn is not fixed, factional play would be thwarted by reshuffling the place and this is not as dire a critique as it would be for a stable dungeon, and the esoteric terrain is pretty good for bamboozling low-intelligence monsters such as using an ice rink to remove the mobility of a pursuing statue-golem, as my players did. 'S just that some of the monsters lean more 'hack n slash through awful jungle' than 'whimsical and melancholic exploration of a ruined and alien land.'
Mind you there are plenty of talky monsters, but they tend to be deeper in, so. Myeh? I just don't wanna roll a giant frog, I guess, when there's such cooler fare to be found.

Speaking of 'cooler fare' I found the animate chess sets and their built in factional play to be neato (at least hypothetically)... but being buried deep and difficult to randomly encounter, well, it seems a shame, don't it? My recommendation for people running Ynn is to do away with a few of the early /beast/plant/statue/golem/etc encounters and have them be lone chess pieces off on quests or trysts or whatever, so they can already be entangled with the chess-pieces by the time they roll up the entire chess set. Oh, maybe more animal-servants instead of just animals, too? I am all for 'put the cool stuff first' and don't hide the 'good stuff' for later. That's like, my one complaint about the place- there's a bit of 'you gotta delve DEEP to get the weird stuff' and I am all about weird=good, so I'm like, 'remove the buffer zone!' Or the late wacky stuff might ne'er be seen! o gods it became 3am when I wasn't looking my text is getting rambly

tl;dr Ynn is good and you should consider buying it, and since I eat pizza out of a dumpster and pay rent with plasma money and patreon tips so you better believe I weighed those $5 carefully