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Ballads of Eldoru (2nd Ed) Cover Scan (c. 2002)

(EDITED.)  Okay, just in case you want the whole story, you can find JackMann's review on the SomethingAwful forums (bad language warning) as originally posted on April 1st, 2018:…

Basically, it's a thread for really bad RPGs (in the opinions of the posters).  I confess, when I looked at some of the things being discussed, I had to do some Google-searching to make sure the whole thing wasn't just one big April Fool's prank.  So, JackMann shares with us this relic "heartbreaker" RPG from the early Aughts, "Ballads of Eldoru (2nd edition)," by Oscar Merlyn Moffett.  In short, Moffett is the sort of RPGer who has very *strong* opinions about how one ought to play a role-playing game (and all you folks out there having fun doing it some other way ... STOP IT IMMEDIATELY -- YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!).  The cover promises some sort of rambunctious pulpy sci-fi-meets-fantasy crazy adventure, yet the game as spelled out has you playing a dirt farmer facing such ponderous questions as which town to visit to take your blood-turnips to market.  That is, unless your GM gives you *special permission* to play one of the cool classes such as a Space Mari-- er, I mean, COSMIC Marine.  By and large, adventures are being had somewhere in this world, by too-awesome NPCs, but the players won't get to experience any of that.

It's a big mess.  Several other posters on the forum start sharing their vague memories of this game and the antics of the game creator on various old (and of course no-longer-accessible) forums.  And, strangely, it seems kind of familiar.

I did mention this was on April 1st, right?  Well, that's the deal.  Moffett is something of a composite of any number of self-published RPG-writers big on new and complex game mechanics, and short on having anyone actually proofread or seriously play-test their work.  At least a couple of the forumites had been recruited by JackMann to play along, while some others appeared to catch on but just started making stuff up so as not to spoil the fun.  Eventually, of course, folks started doing the natural thing and trying to Google any mention of this Eldoru game or its creator and suspiciously there wasn't so much as a PEEP about it.  And, hmm, this being on April 1st and all....  ;)

To further the joke, the artwork cobbles together several cliches.  We've got Papyrus typeface for the title, the cheapest Photoshop "chrome" effect, a generic "leather" texture border, an obnoxious "Grimtooth's Traps" style "warning sticker," and -- ho boy -- we've got LENS FLARE.  I printed it, laminated it, and used some stickers from a couple of game items purchased on clearance (that I still had the stickers on the box), a little neon-orange circle sticker, and magic marker.  I distressed the laminated print and then scanned it back in for that Moire-type effect.  I used Photoshop to edit the original tag (so the store codes would seem to be in line with the supposed product and manufacturer), and re-added some speckle effects to try to maintain the "JPEG scatter" effect around the printed letters and numbers on the sticker.

"Ballads of Eldoru" review and art ©John Beattie (…).
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