Friday Review: Of Mushrooms Meet and Marvelous
My life is still crazy hectic right now, and I haven't had a chance to sit down and do a review of one of the longer pieces that have been sent to me (sorry, folks!). I still wanted to do something, though, so spent a few minutes looking through the new OSR releases on Drivethru. One thing that caught my eye was a short little book titled Of Mushrooms Meet and Marvelous. It's a short scenario for a system that is new to me entitled Under Hill, By Water, that I just stumbled across when I added it to this upcoming Monday's Roundup (there's a jam on itch currently running for the system). OMMaM is .99 cents, so I figured I'd pick up a copy and check it out.
It's a short, 11-page pdf written by Kris Goldsmith and laid out by Josh McCrowell (the latter also wrote Under Hill, By Water). To start off, UHBW is what I would call a "cozy game" (note that I haven't read the rules yet); the characters are halflings in a Shire, and sessions revolve around domestic or pastoral events. This is not, it does not seem, to be a game where dungeons are delved and dragons decapitated. The scenario presented in this book is simple: the Harvest Faire is approaching, and the trophies this year for "Meatest Meal" and "Prodigious Produe" are especially fine, and will not doubt allow the winner to impress a love interest, best a rival, or improve one's standing in the community.
It's so soon, though, and many of the contestants will have been spending the whole year tending their prize pumpkin, or perfecting the perfect pie. Whatever will the characters do? Well, I will not spoil the meat of the scenario, but suffice it to say the book outlines some means to their goals, and the obstacles that stand in the character's way.
Not having read the core rules, reading through this scenario intrigued me. There is no outright combat in the book; success or failure is determined by the characters' actions and succeeding on skill checks. In some instances failure lowers the characters' standing in the community amongst upstanding halflings while at the same time raising it amongst those rapscallions and lay-abouts in the shire. Many of the challenges in this book can be overcome by improving the attitudes of NPCs, something I find very clever. I am curious to see if the Core rules include any sort of community-building rules.
This is a clever, well-written scenario for a system I am now intrigued to learn more about. As the pandemic grinds on into its third year, I, like many others, am finding comfort in wholesome fare such as Ted Lasso, british baking shows, and now, it seems, a game written to explore the bucolic lives of halflings. At .99 cents this scenario is definitely worth a look (and be sure to check out the UHBW game jam currently going on over at itch.).