This is an assembled and annotated volume of previous Slayers Guides… So this product is a hoot and entertaining …and from the title you may guess the targets are Slayer Guides to Female Gamers, Rules Lawyers, and Game Masters. There is new material including a bit how those guides were meant to be humorous accounts on the characters we see at the game table (or don't see) all the time. Even if you own the originals the added appendixes – Spotter’s Guide to Gamers (morphology of the above and additional categories), Game Designers and MMORPG Games rounding out the volume with an afterword and index.
Each of these categories are subject to further spoofing each other in each chapter, so where the truth lies, nobody truly knows. The humor is classic British dry wit, as opposed to Monty Python; think Humphrey Appleby (Yes Minister) although the humour does descend into some forms of vulgarity from time to time supplementing the text is equally hilarious. The artwork reminds one of the early Paranoia stuff – however, different artist has a similar aesthetic. However, I guess the humor is not for everyone. One should also note the End notes are of almost equal importance to the main text – as they form annotations from the main text.
Although, you might be prepared for an irreverent guide…there are several passages that give sound advice – not to slay the respective subject (although there is a good measure of that) but really good recommendations in dealing with some of the different personalities around the gaming table. For the archetypes do prove to be alarming true in some cases – we are a weird bunch us, gamers, but can be even weirder when brought into social situations that our games call for except for the MMORPG or Soloists – those people are just way too strange.
In the beginning, it is rather hard to read these guides as they presume the specialist language that they will introduce you in the course of reading them. However, a second or tertiary reading just generates belly laughs. So what is it that you actually get…?
A general description of the subject told from the global perspective (otherwise not from the first person) but a would-be slayer. This section usual contains although sometimes it is littered throughout the relationship with other species of gamers and/or the particular ecological niche the subject occupies. A section on the physiology and psychology of would be prey, including the bizarre mating practices of these individuals (weird thing is some of this is true judging from some of the women that I have met around the gaming table and horndog approaches of guys when they encounter something different i.e. a woman). Naturally, that leads into a discussion of the defensive strategies and offensive capacities including any special attacks that might be employed by the quarry. Then comes the perspective of how to portray these individuals in role playing terms – for instance, you might be part a gamer girlz coven but do know what it means to be a female gamer? This gives you a few pointers. Sometimes, there is a brief mention of special magic items that might associate with the target, some of these are quite elaborate snares and traps – so one has to be mindful. Then, lastly, each section contains the ways and means and perhaps most importantly defeating these terrible foes.
One of the things that this is missing would be any sort of supporting app in today’s language or a flow charts or tables that would indicate which archetype that you might be and how to plan your attack. Back in the day, flowcharts could have done this or multiple choice questionnaires to reveal survey answers that would be equally whimsical. Today, naturally, there could be an app for that. So, aspiring app designers should approach Mongoose with a proposal.
It was rewritten before its compilation into this volume that was being reviewed but not overly so. Thus, it does suffer from minor inconsistencies as you move from prey to prey. It would be nice if Mongoose streamlined and reformatted the whole thing to make it consistent. However, it does not distract from the joys of discovery. Wait, a minute this makes me sound like a rules lawyer (I know that I am a Game Master – better duck and take cover). The arrows are a comin’ … It naturally uses D&D as its main focus – but other games are occasionally cited but I think we all have played D&D at one point in time so all these references can easily be ported over.
This book is also remarkable as it was written or being written before the whole “motivational poster” meme took off like-wildfire. So, more contemporary readers might have seen this all before but old timers who remember What’s New and the cartoons that littered White Dwarf before Dork Tower and the Knights of the Gaming Table, before the Dark Times, will laugh wholeheartedly at the fun jives at 3.x, and classic Old School humor. So, it I do not hesitate in calling this a classic, albeit a relatively unknown classic. It could use more work, but, so do the jokes that take place around my own gaming table – thanks to the authors for supplying us with a common vocabulary that we can now use to expand our collection of jokes and gags. For budget conscious gamers, I would suggest the PDF or if the book is on sale but I like books and even though there is nothing wrong with the PDFs (and I guess with readers coming down in price) – the price point of the PDF is worth every penny.