Tuesday, October 1, 2013

EN Armoury: Chainmail Bikini and Other Adventuring Gear for Beautiful People by Ryan Nock

EN Armoury: Chainmail Bikini and Other Adventuring Gear for Beautiful People by Ryan Nock is a semi-serious, semi-tongue-in-cheek book published by EN World. I would really like to tell you that this book is one of those rare gems that is able to not only present a risky subject in a profound and inventive way but that does so in a fun and engaging manner. 

I would really like to tell you that.

Chapter One: Chainmail Bikini

The chapter starts out with a farcical story about a woman who lead a rebellion against an oppressive overlord and was tricked into wearing the first chainmail bikini by a witch. She subsequently died and so too did the drab narrative. We're then treated to a short and rather engaging history of the bikini; which if the rest of the book kept this tone it would be grand.

It really would be. 

Now this chapter does have a few redeeming points and these come in the new armor modifications. Buoyancy (pg. 6), Custom Fit (pg. 6), Durability (pg. 6), Hardened (pg. 6), Mobility (pg. 6), Quick Release (pg. 6), Reduced Weight (pg. 6), and Superb Balance (pg. 6) are all really good ideas and would make a welcome addition to your game. They are intelligently designed with a keen eye on their use in regular games.

Chapter Two: Fighting and Feats

By J.L. Jones, from pg. 9
This chapter is filled with the sort of sophomoric bile that makes me regret spending my time and money on this book. Feats like Anatomically Over-Endowed (pg. 9), Cleavage (pg. 11), Too Cute to Hit (pg. 13) and Take Your Mind Off It (pg. 13) are not only childish, they're just not that well done. Which is a shame because alongside those insipid feats you have some really great feats like Arcane Armor (pg. 9), Armor Focus (pg. 10), Armor Optimization (pg. 10), Armor Specialization (pg. 11), and Glutton for Punishment (pg. 12). 

Why waste time with eye-rolling feats that are there only for their value as a sophomoric joke when you could focus more of on these inventive and balanced feats. I get that the book is essentially a 'joke' book but there are parts where real value can be found and when I come across those I'm left wondering why Ryan Nock wasted his time with the rest of it.

Chapter Three: Bikini Prestige Classes

There is not one useful line in this entire chapter. 

Chapter Four: Swimsuits of the Multiverse

This is a chapter that is literally about beauty contests. 

Just no. 
 Chapter Five: Bikini Magic

There are only two items worth reading in this entire chapter: the Shirt of Heroic Drama (pg. 23) and the Bikini of Doom (pg. 23). Both of these items need new names, but aside from that they posses some of the best ideas in the book. 
Shirt of Heroic Drama: Whenever the wearer of this +5 manly shirt (the male underwear equivalent of hide armour) takes 10 or more points of damage in a single round, the shirt tears dramatically, granting the wearer a special boon when he attempts something daring and dramatic. During the next round, the wearer may add his Charisma modifier as a bonus to a single attack roll, skill check, saving throw, or similar check. If the wearer’s modified roll for that check is 20 or higher, he may use that ability again in the next round. If he uses the ability again and the modified roll is a 25 or higher, he may use it for a third round, and repeat again, requiring a modified 30 in the third round, 35 in the fourth round, and so on, for continued heroic drama . . . (pg. 23 -24)
In spite of the silly shirt tear this item is really cool; and I find myself really excited by the idea of giving this thing to a bard, or to an overly dramatic player, as it could really encourage moments of awesome and creative game play. That's the sort of stuff that this book could have used more of - not bullshit like the ribbon whirlwind (pg. 24) and the tsunami suit (pg. 25).

Overall Review

EN Armoury: Chainmail Bikini and Other Adventuring Gear for Beautiful People by Ryan Nock is a frustrating book. Which is so disappointing as the author does as good a job with the source material as he could; but there are so many moments in this book where you can hear yourself audibly groaning under the weight of the childish humor, only to find yourself glossing over the real gems hidden deep in this book. 

The art is good, and manages not to take too many liberties with the subject material. The presentation of the material is well done, too, but there isn't enough redeeming material in this book to warrant a second read, let alone anyone else spending their money on it. 

Score: 3 out of 10

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