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Friday Review: To Elfland and Back

With Planar Compass Issue #3 currently fundraising, and since I carry their products, I wanted to take a quick look at one of them: the mini-game To Elfland and Back. Like all their books, it is a gorgeous piece of work. Full color, staple-bound, and 'zine sized (5-3/4 x 8-1/4).

It's a 16-page booklet, including covers, and makes good use of public domain art (Victorian-esque) to convey the mood. It's billed as a game for 2-6 players plus a referee, requiring pencil, paper, and two d6s, with the goal being to retrieve what the fae have stolen and bring it home. Resolving a challenge is simple, requiring but the roll of a six-sider. A "1" is an auto-fail, a "2-3" success with negative consequences, "4-5" straight success, and "6" success with fantastic results. If the character is in a position that benefits them they roll with Advantage, if in a difficult situation they roll with Disadvantage.

I know a lot of old-school purists dislike the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanism made popular by 5e, but I really like it. It is simple, elegant, and adds drama to the roll.

Players than choose a job (or roll to randomly determine) from a list of 6. The Referee may choose to grant advantage to rolls that relate to a character's job. They can then work with the Referee to choose three possessions they have with them, roll for personality, and that's it!

The rest of the little booklet is for the Referee to determine what the goal of the session is. What did the fae steal, where did they take it, what is encountered along the way to retrieve it, and so forth. There's a table to determine fantastic weather, how much time passes while they are in faery, what the faery demands to return the stolen item, etc.

All in all, this is a beautiful little booklet, well-made, that basically consists of a bunch of random tables that can be rolled on to craft a scenario. It's great for a one-off -- perhaps when not all the players can make a sesssion -- or as a tool for generating fae encounters in other systems and adventures.

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