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The Lair of the Leopard Empresses RPG
Publisher: Mindjammer Press
by Seth P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/18/2023 19:52:26

I've read all of the rules, mechanics, char creation, magic etc... parts of the book (a couple times) with only some of the setting still to read through and I'm loving what's here. Made a few characters and about to run them through some solo adventures, but i haven't played it yet so this is more first impressions than any review.

This is the best version of Tunnels & Trolls (even though it's technically MM) I've read. Better written and better explained, without the constant dad jokes, bad puns, cringy spell names and oddly conversational writing style. It also answers and fixes those rules ambiguities from the newest MM rulebook that aren't explained well so I'd say it's a better MM rulebook too, although the latest MM is the only one I've ever owned and read so can't speak for the previous ones editions. It's mostly written in a straightforward easy to read, clean neutral tone with lots of explainer breakout boxes and examples. It does still have minor instances of changing to a conversational tone and feeling out of place at times (like the start of the Stunts section: "Here we are at last! Let's talk about stunts! Here's the skinny"), but after a sentence or two it usually snaps right back and it's rare and minor.

The general page layout is great, very easy to read, with bold, red headers. It's really good, up there with Barbarians of Lemuria Mythic edition or one of the Legends of Steel books. I've only found one typo so far (and everything else is so solid I was surprised they missed it). However I don't love how they broke up the sections. I dislike when a game goes straight into setting, instead of straight into rules or character creation and after a brief "what is rpg" section this jumps in with an overview of Ximuia, timelines and calendar tables that feels like it should be at the back of the book with the rest of the setting fluff (especially if you don't want to use it).

The art is really good, very evocative and cohesive. There is a pretty good amount of it and none of it is bad. A definite step above what you usually see in a T&T publication. If AI art means we start getting smaller and/or indie publications with really good art instead of the terrible art they can generally afford I'm all for it, especially since bad art and presentation can really ruin what would otherwise be a good game.

The book itself is one of the most evenly built, straight and well bound Drivethru books I've received, unfortunately the paper is of a lower quality. And while it's full color everything (other than the cover) looks like Drivethru in ink-saving mode which is unfortunate for the price of the book. Everything looks slightly washed out or faded. The black type is easily readable, but it isn't dark and crisp as you would expect. It's the least colorful printing of all the full color books I've ever ordered from Drivethru which is a bummer since the artwork was obviously created super bright, colorful and vibrant. But that is all on Drivethru, not the quality of the work the creators put into the book. And it could also be that mine got shafted somehow and everyone else got a bright, colorful print, but I thought I should mention it.

Even with that I'd say it's the game I've always wished T&T could be, plus more. It's that classic ruleset, much better presented, well laid out and written with much better art and a more unique S&S-ish weird-fantasy sword & sandals setting which seems awesome and fresh in its own right. The ruleset they've built from those T&T/MM components is really, really good and I'm very happy to own it. It's one of those games that really makes you want to play it while you're reading it. Of the 86 books I've purchased and read from Drivethru this is the first one that prompted me to write a review... so there's that.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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The Lair of the Leopard Empresses RPG
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