Seven Voyages of Zylarthen is finally available, either via download or in four saddle stitched volumes of 48-64 pages each, published by Campion & Clitherow.
Happy dungeoneering! Guard the innocent! Avenge the wronged! May you find heaps of gold at the end of your path, or at the least a memorable and heroic demise! But above all, God grant that you find wonder everywhere!
Seven Voyages of Zylarthen is a “neo” not a “retro”-clone. It takes the original 1974 version of the game as a template. But the goal was not to merely clone the mechanics or content per se. As will be seen, a number of major changes and additions, as well as many minor changes and additions were made. They were made not with the intention of grafting onto the original “modern developments and improvements in role-playing design” as someone might have put it, but to re-imagine the original in the spirit of old-school play, circa 1974-75.
We have nothing against retro-clones (in fact we're all in favor of them) but part of the rationale for our approach was that retro-clones of “the three little brown books” have already been done and done well—most obviously by Delving Deeper and to a slightly lesser extent (in terms of precise cloning) by Swords & Wizardry White Box and Labyrinth Lord Original Edition Characters. There wasn’t really any point (for us or our potential audience) in trying to do the same thing. So the idea was to, so to speak, look at things from the “inside out”—emulating more of the spirit and the aesthetic of the original version while changing or (with humility) “fixing” and expanding on some things in line with that spirit. There’s at least a two parts fairy-tale, one part pulp science fiction and fantasy tone to the original that we feel was a big part of the original attraction of the game but that is not precisely captured by the rule mechanics or even the basic content of the text per se. In our opinion, much of it was quickly lost in later editions. The fairy-tale aspect was what motivated us to use the wonderful art of John Dickson Batten for all four volumes.
I’m happy with the result. Lulu did a fabulous job with the physical product. The creamy covers and high-quality paper show off the simple but elegant "old-school" font and the Batten drawings to great effect. And the saddle stitch binding allows one to easily lay any of the volumes flat for reference. We hope you will be proud to own it. The result fills a gaming niche for us, and I hope it will do so for others, while at the same time being a respectful tribute to the earliest version of the original game.
PDF’s of all four volumes are available for free download from Lulu. Just click the link above or to the right. Of course we recommend that if you find the virtual product to your liking, you’ll consider purchasing the physical booklets.
Since I’ve learned so much from the commentary and discussions on the blogs, groups and boards, any feedback would be enjoyable for me, and of course helpful.